Richard Clark and Robert Kozma

Posted By cnix on Sep 27, 2020 | 0 comments

LRNT 523 Activity 5: Cheryl and Wendy joint blog post


Richard Clark and Robert Kozma researched, theorized, and debated within the educational technology (ed-tech) field. Richard Clark argued that media are simply vehicles that deliver information to learners and do not influence or motivate learning (Clark, 1994). Robert Kozma, on the other hand, argued that the media do influence learning (Kozma, 1994). The great media debate continues to be relevant long after its origins. This blog post demonstrates how knowledge of the media debate is helpful to critique and question the claims made by current actors in the ed-tech industry. It is essential to review the great media debate because we as educators are responsible for contributing to the improvement of education and learning and for finding ways “to use the capabilities of media to influence learning for particular students, tasks, and situations.” (Kozma, 1994, p. 23). The two software/app companies currently active in the ed-tech industry that exhibits signs of techno deterministic thinking are Classcraft and Ripple Effects.



Using technology, games, and storytelling, Classcraft creates a learning environment that is culturally relevant to today’s youth (Classcraft, 2020). Classcraft uses a modern approach that is effective in the classroom because it drives intrinsic student motivation and learning outcomes, allows teachers to intervene when necessary, and provides clear insights into student behavior and school culture. Students introduced to Classcraft improved personal accountability, technical capabilities, digital citizenship, and digital literacy (Pole, 2019).

Clark would argue that Classcraft is too expensive and that there are other ways to motivate students without this technology. The technology doesn’t influence learning because, without it, the teacher is still able to provide the environment necessary for student engagement. Kozma, on the other hand, would say Classcraft influences students by motivating students to engage in their learning. Not only does media provide models learners couldn’t provide for themselves and activate prior knowledge by connecting students to new learning, but media also motivates. Kozma would now have a third example of successful technological interaction in a third environment to demonstrate technology’s usefulness to education. Classcraft motivates modern students to use their devices for learning (Pole, 2019) and therefore provides additional evidence that media influences learning.


Ripple Effects

The mission of Ripple Effects is to use “emerging technologies to prevent social injury and promote school and life success for all children and youth, especially those most at risk of failure” (Ripple Effects, 2020). Ripple Effects gives students a self-directed, personalized experience, including engaging assessments to track benchmark progress. The technology removes literacy barriers by using built-in text-to-speech. As well, educators are able to access data to track student progress and make informed decisions that benefit both staff and students. Teaching kids to persist through failure, to show empathy for others, and to problem-solve lead to greater academic achievement and consequently, career and life success (Berlinski, 2016). 

Clark would respond by saying there are other ways to foster success in students and that this type of technology does not influence learning. Kozma would insist that “only technology can effectively tailor instruction to the varied needs of a group of learners at one time” (Berlinski, para. 9), especially in this modern, complex world. Ripple Effects provides one more example that media influence learning.




Berlinski, Jessica. (2016). 5 ways tech can strengthen social and emotional learning.

Clark, R. E. (1994). Media will never influence learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 21–29.


Classcraft (2020). Our approach.


Classcraft (2020). Want to know where dragons come from?


Kozma, R. B. (1994). Will media influence learning? Reframing the debate. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 7–19.


Pole, Corrinne (2019, March 19). Research into the use of electronic devices in school shows how educators miss the mark. Retrieved from


Ripple Effects (2020). Award winning WBME on a mission.


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