In this EdWeek blog post, Peter DeWitt invites Emily Davis and Brad Currie to talk about a topic that continues along the lines of the “Great Media Debate.” Davis and Currie (2019) state that many schools spend large sums of money on technology, with the hope of improving the quality of teaching. However, without the proper supports in place, such as coaching from technology leaders and experts able to teach other teachers how to properly use this new technology, it goes to waste through underuse, or worse, gets used for the wrong reasons. In an example, Davis and Currie demonstrate that, in one school that gave all students a Chromebook laptop for a 6-month trial, it was found that “the actual work that is being submitted is not requiring students to do anything differently from what they had done before technology, nor is it engaging students in meaningful and relevant tech-enabled learning experiences” (Davis & Currie, 2019, para. 4).
In this blog post, Davis and Currie (2019) make a bold statement that “technology has no impact on teaching and learning.” Does this sound familiar? If you’ve read the classic Clark (1994) and Kozma (1994) articles that argue in this media debate, it should be familiar. Below is our, Patrick Guichon’s and Mike MacKay’s, opinions on how Clark and Kozma might have reacted to this more recent addition to the media debate.
Clark would likely agree with the title that “technology has no impact on teaching and learning” since this is aligned with the title of his article, “media will never influence learning.” Clark would probably say the adoption of new technology is not going to significantly affect the learning, so be wary of implementing it. Since, simply changing the media by using a new technology does not affect the teaching, the only benefit would be in the cost and perhaps the efficiency of the new technology. Clark might have argued not to invest too much time and money into a new technology, just to find it is less efficient and more costly.
Kozma would likely claim that we won’t see the benefit of the technology if we don’t take advantage of its affordances. This article supports this point of view, saying that without the proper support in schools, such as introducing technology coaches, teachers will use the technology for the wrong reasons. “Good pedagogy has to come before technology selection or use” (Davis & Currie, 2019, para. 9). According to Davis and Currie, these technology coaches need to “help teachers select and implement the right tools in ways that enhance instruction, address student needs, and meet curricular goals” (2019, para. 9); this is consistent with Kozma’s perspective, that without a new pedagogy to maximize the use of the new technology, technology is less effective and underutilized. Kozma stated that “traditional pedagogies do not address complex relationships between media, method and situation” (Kozma, 1994, p. 21), so we need adequate training to utilize new technologies properly with the right teaching pedagogies.
To further aid in the reader’s understanding of the great media debate between Clark and Kozma, let’s look at another article where an emerging technology’s pedagogy has become the new focal point of the discussion.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Education recently secured nearly 1.4 million USD to support a new program called the Exploring Collaborative Embodiment for Learning, or EXCEL, which focuses on using augmented and virtual reality to understand geometry. The program employs a unique approach called embodied learning, which focuses on expressing mathematical thinking through “movement, spatial reasoning, and imaginative thinking” (University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2020, para. 2). Using this approach, students and teachers represent their mathematical understanding by interacting with artefacts in the virtual space using Microsoft’s HoloLens 2, allowing the representation of knowledge without the need for proficient or native language skills. The program’s goal is to explore how using different modalities in augmented reality could impact student understanding of geometry and how these tasks are affected by “students’ gestures, language, and actions” (University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2020, para. 16).
Clark would most likely question the allocation of funds for this program. Using the replaceability challenge, the idea of testing the viability of a medium or media by seeing if another cheaper solution can replace it (Clark, 1994, para. 3); he would argue that the EXCEL program’s virtual shape manipulation can most likely be achieved in a more cost-effective way using well designed physical models. Instead of using expensive augmented reality tools and virtual geometric shapes, physical models could be constructed out of paper for a fraction of the cost. Even manipulating geometric shapes in the virtual space could be accomplished by reconstructing a new paper model with the desired attributes. A paper model would achieve similar results because learners would still follow the core principles of embodied learning, making it hard to justify an expensive tool like augmented reality.
Kozma would view the EXCEL program as an innovative evolution in the way educators teach geometry. Two main points would support his view: (1) the belief that medium or media must be integrated into the development of the method for it to influence learning (Kozma, 1994, p. 20), and (2) the need to define the capabilities of a medium or media based on the learner, task, and situation rather than a cause-effect analysis (Kozma, 1994, pp. 13-14). First, Kozma would not view the construction of paper models and the manipulation of virtual models the same because even though the activity’s outcome is compatible, the method used to achieve the learning dramatically differs. When constructing a paper model, the learner still needs an abstract understanding of the attributes (width, height, depth, etc.) to achieve the outcome; yet, the methodological approach in the EXCEL program allows the learner to physically manipulate the virtual shape to achieve the desired result without any understanding of the underlying attributes. Kozma would view this approach as the liberation of new design models by the increased capabilities of the HoloLens 2 (Kozma, 1994, p. 23). Secondly, viewing Clark’s cost-effective example, many assumptions would need to be made about the learner, task, and situation. For instance, all learners would need language and communication skills to understand the instructions when creating a paper model for understanding geometric manipulations. Yet, using the EXCEL program’s pedagogical approach, language skills are less prevalent because students can see the effects of their manipulations instantaneously. The EXCEL program explains this approach by focusing on understanding geometry through multiple modalities (University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2020, para. 3). Effectively, Kozma would argue that by considering the medium when designing their pedagogical approach, the program has forced the reexamination of the foundational assumptions that make up how one learns geometry, improving related education and training (Kozma, 1994, p. 23).
Clark, R. E. (1994). Media will never influence learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 21-29. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF02299088
Davis, E., Currie, B. (2019, April 19). Technology Has No Impact on Teaching and Learning. Peter DeWitt’s Finding Common Ground. Education Week. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/finding_common_ground/2019/04/technology_has_no_impact_on_teaching_and_learning.html
Kozma, R. B. (1994). Will media influence learning: Reframing the debate. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 7-19. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF02299087
University of Wisconsin-Madison. (2020, September 9). Virtual reality offers new avenues for remote collaborative learning and teaching. https://education.wisc.edu/news/virtual-reality-offers-new-avenues-for-remote-collaborative-learning-and-teaching/
This article is written in response to the following question from this article.
I’m intrigued by this and love that Cardoso is creating freely available tutorials to help others learn how to create gamified learning environments. I don’t know a ton about gamification (though I’m not bad at Mario Teach Typing) and am getting hung up on one sentence and am hoping you can do an ELI5 for me.
“This experiment can create authentic and realistic learner experiences because, unlike traditional lectures or asynchronous video tutorials, they allow the learner to explore the content in their original environments.”
What is meant by “in their original environments”? Do you mean that they are learning coding directly within a coding environment or is something else meant?
How does this experience differ from something like CSS Diner (https://flukeout.github.io/), or even Mario Teaches Typing, or does it differ at all?
Great question, David. What I mean by “original environments” is not the coding environment, but the context to which the environment is applied in normal operation. So for a game, this would be the game being played. In general, a developer would not want to let an end-user modify and play with a product’s code during runtime. This is where things get really hard for new coders and developers because, outside the language’s syntax, very few things in coding are required to be explicit. To explain this, I will give a simple example, I can write code to move a sprite on the screen, which can be entirely different from another person’s code, and both code fragments could be perfectly viable and functional.
Now, before I go on, games, as with most modern visual media, are built on multiple layers. To keep it simple, I will refer to the two main layers: the coding layer (or IDE, which stands for an integrated development environment) and the visual layer (the art, models and sprites). Going back to the sprite movement example above, and viewing this from the perspective of a would-be developer, a new student attempting to write code for a game for the first time has to take in account not only the code they write but how it will interact with the other layers of the game (which by the way are entirely external to an IDE). A learner wanting to move there sprite to the left needs to understand the 3D cartesian coordinate grid system the game is using, what dimension of the grid they are moving (x, y, z) in, the size of the sprite, possible collisions or interactions with other game entities and so on. As you can imagine, this is a lot of information to take in and can get very confusing, as coding alone can be a struggle to learn.
Most people I have talked to that teach people to code recommend focusing on one environment or layer before moving onto the next. But gaming, again like all interactive visual media, is built upon the interactions between these layers. Using this “master” and move on method once a learner has become a proficient coder, they need to learn (and, in many cases) relearn how their code interacts in the game environment. Cardoso allows learners, especially new learners, to explore how the code affects the gaming environment by enabling them to write code directly in it.
Yes, he does represent these “gamified challenges,” much like the game I created in the example, but gamification was not the purpose of this article. It was a teaching pedagogy that allows new learners to explore a complex system and apply and test their knowledge. It is the distillation and simplification of game development’s cores down to the explicit by using technology to create easily digestible lessons. Speaking hypothetically, what is more interesting with this approach is the original complexity is still there and can be introduced to the new learner as they better grasp the concepts, akin to the scaffolding strategies use by so many educators.
Sorry for the long post. As you can see, I found the 250-word cap limiting, and there was a lot I wanted to break down but found it was not possible. I hoped that my media example would bridge some of the connections my writing could not. Still, I appreciate your interest and hope this was a sufficient answer.
Dr. Veletsianos, feel free to disregard this section for the assignment. I just felt that I would be doing the article a disservice by not including a more in-depth background on Cardoso.
This blog post is written about Hugo Cardoso, an independent game developer from Portugal. At first, one may argue that Cardoso, better known by his YouTube alias Code Monkey, is an unconventional example of an educational technology leader. For one, his contribution to the furtherment of educational technology falls outside the traditional scopes of most higher education experts. That is to say, the bulk of his contributions fall in the form of YouTube videos (Cardoso, n.d. -a), where he explains different coding procedures for the Unity Game Engine (Unity Technologies, 2020). These videos have value to the community and create an excellent opportunity for asynchronous learning. Furthermore, he is the epicentre of a dynamic learning community hosted on the communication application Discord (Cardoso, n.d. -b). However, these accolades are not the focus of this blog post. I believe Cardoso is an educational technology leader because of his recent software release entitled Learn Game Development, Unity Code Monkey (Endless Loop Studios, 2020).
When new technologies are introduced, their use tends to focus on old paradigms before novel applications are realized (Weller 2020, p. 64). This process is nothing new in educational technology and in itself is not negative. In many cases, they create rich and powerful learning opportunities. Nevertheless, as Weller states, this should be viewed as the “initial step to greater experimentation” (2020, p. 64). Hugo Cardoso, an independent game developer and educator, has taken this next step in experimentation.
Cardoso has been releasing game development video tutorials on YouTube for over two years (Cardoso, n.d. -a). More recently, he has released his first project that uses interactive tutorials embedded in a game-like program to teach learning outcomes (Endless Loop Studios, 2020). In this program, users progress through the games by completing programming-based objectives that simulate the game development process (interested readers can see this approach below). This experiment can create authentic and realistic learner experiences because, unlike traditional lectures or asynchronous video tutorials, they allow the learner to explore the content in their original environments. What is significant about Cardoso’s approach is not its novelty or creative use of technology, but the pedagogical focus that marries the game and lesson design. Speaking theoretically, it is a practical application of gamification science, a post-positivist view of adding gaming elements to real-world processes (Landers et al., 2018, p. 318). In some respects, it can be seen as an education-first development process by taking into account the learning objective during the technology’s development cycle.
I have created a short example following Cardoso’s model. It is a simple coding game that focuses on typing and invoking real methods to navigate the environment. Click on the picture below to give it a try. Please note: This product is not optimized or designed for mobile applications, if you are on a phone your experience will be degraded.
Article written with permission from Hugo Cardoso.
Cardoso, H. (n.d. -a). Code Monkey. YouTube. Retrieved September 18, 2020, from https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFK6NCbuCIVzA6Yj1G_ZqCg
Cardoso, H. (n.d. -b). Code Monkey. Discord. https://t.co/0dX9qe3a5G
Endless Loop Studios. (2020, August 9). Learn Game Development, Unity Code Monkey. Steam. https://store.steampowered.com/app/1294220/Learn_Game_Development_Unity_Code_Monkey/
Landers, R. N., Auer, E. M., Collmus, A. B., & Armstrong, M. B. (2018). Gamification Science, Its History and Future: Definitions and a Research Agenda. Simulation & Gaming, 49(3), 315–337. https://doi.org/10.1177/1046878118774385
Unity Technologies. (2020). Unity Real-Time Development Platform. Retrieved September 18, 2020, from https://unity.com/
Weller, M. (2020). 25 Years of Ed Tech. Athabasca University Press. https://doi.org/10.15215/aupress/9781771993050.01
Weller had some interesting takes on educational technology from the years 2002 to 2011. I completely agree with his argument that much of the issues educators have with the LMS is the institutional “sediment” that accompanies it. In many cases, educators feel forced to use the tool to keep relevant in the current educational landscape. This force participation becomes more absorbing each year, as currently, many of my colleagues are scrambling to develop online videos for students that cannot join their class. To them, this online world is foreign, and being asked to become a producer of content conjures anxiety and fears.
After years of helping many educators navigate the online world, I have found most people against its adoption fall into two categories:
- The self-proclaimed “Not Tech People.”
- The fear of the unknown or undesired.
The “Not Tech People” often have decided that they either have no interest or do not think they have the skills to operate technology. This decision comes typically after a negative experience or merely comparing themselves to other more proficient users. While I could write at length about how this view is a fallacy, I will state that nearly all experienced technology users have spent thousands of hours (or much more) honing their skills. To put it in sports terms, the proficient people have spent a lot more time practicing and engrossing themself in related activities. The fear group often views the horror stories of social media or data breaches and thinks everyone or everything in the online world is out to get them. These fears are often exacerbated by false or misleading tales and constant news reports of foul play. I will admit, I struggle with this group. My only success with individuals who fear the online world is by helping them shift their view and understand that the real world creates the internet world.
Now onto my next point that Weller never directly expressed but eluded to with each new technology. When the field adopts new technology, do we need to have a majority of professionals learn it and incorporate it? To be clear, when I say adopt, I do mean that the technology has become mainstream. I bring this up because, in my current position, I tend to give recommendations to school divisions on the “best” technology to implement for their usage. One issue that always arises is the resistance to change that is shockingly embedded in the education profession. I have always had a stance to “do with you are comfortable with,” but I am beginning to question that stance recently. One reason, as educators, our job is to challenge learners to engage in new content; this often means that we are telling them to engage in what is uncomfortable. I find it hypocritical of me as an educator to say to my students to do the uncomfortable because it is for their good, but in the next breath, tell my colleagues it is okay to stay in their comfort zones. Even when I ignore the mental and social aspects involved in the process, I find myself challenging my educational lethargy view.
Let me explain, if a person, let’s say, Mike, chooses not to engage in new technology or methodologies because it makes them uncomfortable, they are more likely to not engage in further related technologies. Mike will become further and further behind his colleagues in a snowballing type of effect. Even down the line, if Mike decides to engage in the technology, he will most likely be so far behind that even the most fundamental elements will cause him to struggle.
In this scenario, would it not have been better to have Mike learn the technology even though he may not want to (at least in the longitudinal view)? What makes this more interesting, thanks to COVID-19, we have discovered that the educational profession does not live in a vacuum and is required to adapt to the world’s events. Today, nearly all educators find themselves teaching online, using videos, widgets, LMS, video chat, and other online tools to not only supplement their practice but deliver it. Perhaps a lot of anxiety could have been alleviated by requiring professionals to expose themselves to these technologies. In many ways, requiring the adoption of mainstream technology is a mercy.
Weller, M. (2020). 25 Years of Ed Tech. Athabasca University Press.