The claim of no-learning benefit has been made and substantiated by Clark (1986). He acknowledges that media has economic benefits but not learning benefits. His theory on research and data is collected throughout many different research projects. He analyzed research that started in the 1960s and was tracked all the way up to the 1980s, but the data did not indicate how different teachers instructed.Clark (1986) also mentioned that authentic problems or tasks seem to be the most effective influence on learning. Since he believed that the media had no learning benefits, he stressed that a moratorium on further research dealing with media’s influence on learning was necessary (Clark, 1983).
Contrary to Clark’s (1986) research, the article “The Influence of Technology in the Education Industry” Dr Eliatamby (2018) says use of technology is, at its very core, blended learning. At its simplest, blended learning is “the integration of classroom face-to-face learning experiences with online learning experiences” (Garrison and Kanuka, 2004, p. 96). The use of blended learning creates space for students to actively participate in the interplay between their learning environment and their own cognitive processes (Kozma, 1994). Use of technology also allows for learning on the job or real-world learning to take place, or better generalization of student learning to real-world contexts (Kozma, 1994). This is supercritical in the age of industry 4.0.
In her article for Campus Technology, Reynard (2019) states the importance of understanding that how students’ think and learn has changed due to ongoing use of technology and talks about the integration of technology into design for learning. She falls firmly on the side of Kozma (1994) in advocating that course design should be done interdisciplinarily, setting out contextual problem-solving tasks for students, with an emphasis on the process of learning as opposed to the product (p.21). Use of technology in design for learning is not just about a method of delivering the information to the students, but also building utility with technology. Learning has to leave students equipped for the workplace, with skills that “involve thinking and processing information, including possible diversions of thought, redirection of focus and the integration of new ideas and trends,” and the ability to function within the technological world that they will be working in (Reynard, 2019).
In line with Eliatamby’s take on Technology and its role in learning Dalto (2018) adds that incorporating technology into a blended learning environment boosts learner retention. Dalto touches on technological applications such a mobile learning, AR, VR and 3D simulated environments. Clark (1994) argued that “. . . the usual uses of a medium do not limit the methods or content it is capable of presenting”, but his argument does not consider immersive environments that did not exist at the time of his writing. These new technologies also allow for freedom of instruction did not Clark did not take into account, these technologies “. . . provide[s] the ability to train in situations that would otherwise be too dangerous or expensive in real life.” (Dalto, 2018. p.5)
As Hastings and Tracey suggested in 2005 and even more applicable now media capabilities have changed dramatically over the last generation and the focus of the conversation should not be if, but how media affect learning. “Computers have unique, non replicable capabilities and therefore can support instructional methods that other media cannot” (Hastings and Tracey, 2005). The most important thing about the debate is to acknowledge that the instructional methods and the delivery medium must be aligned to facilitate learning.
Another consideration is raised by Watters in a recent blog post. Commenting on the function of computers in education, Watters quotes Weizenbaum (1995), “It is much nicer, it is much more comfortable, to have some device, say the computer, with which to flood the schools, and then to sit back and say, “You see, we are doing something about it, we are helping,” than to confront ugly social realities” (2019, para. 10). Indeed, based on Watter’s blog about Sesame Street moving from PBS to HBO in 2015 and then in October, 2019 to HPO Max echoes Weizenbaum’s observation in 1995 as this move results in restricting access due to socio-economic barriers. It could be argued that Sesame Street has moved so far from their original goal which was to, “…create a show for public (not commercial) television that would develop school readiness of viewers age 3 to 5, with particular emphasis on the needs of low-income children and children of color” (2019, para. 11) that it would appear Sesame Street has ‘sold out’. The implication being that they sold out in favour of higher profit rather than remaining accessible to its original, marginalised audience. Instead, the programming is available to only those who have the means to pay for it.
It is possible that Clark would agree that Weisenbaum is correct in his observation that computers could be used as a superficial solution to a much deeper problem. Whereas, Kozma might suggest that educators must consider media’s impact on educational outcomes while also exploring the far-reaching impacts as technology continues to advance. Regardless, the question of whether media will, or will not, influence learning is also about the accessibility of media.
Dalto, J. (2018). Ar, vr and 3-d can make workers better. Ise ; Industrial and Systems Engineering at Work, 50(9), 42-47. Retrieved from https://royalroads.on.worldcat.org/oclc/7862472750
Eliatamby, M. (2018, July 02).The Influence of Technology in the Education Industry [blog post] (2018, July 02). Retrieved from https://theknowledgereview.com/the-influence-of-technology-in-the-education-industry
Garrison & Kanuka (2004). The Internet and Higher Education. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/222863721_Blended_Learning_Uncovering_Its_Transformative_
Hastings, N.B. & Tracey, M.W. Does media affect learning: Where are we now? TECHTRENDS TECH TRENDS (2005) 49: 28. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02773968
Kozma, R. B. (1994). Will media influence learning: Reframing the debate. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 7-19.
Reynard, Ruth (2019) Why Integrated Instruction is a Must For Today’s Tech Enabled Learning [blog post]. Retrieved from https://campustechnology.com/articles/2019/05/29/why-integrated-instruction-is-a-must-for-todays-tech-enabled-learning.aspx
Watters, A. (2019, October 04). Hewn, no. 324. [blog post]. Retrieved from https://hewn.substack.com/p/hewn-no-324
The Influence of Technology in the Education Industry [blog post]. Retrieved from https://theknowledgereview.com/the-influence-of-technology-in-the-education-industry