The Media Debate in Current Events

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By Kristin Beeby and Sandra Norum  

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“The Purpose of Argument” by ImNotQuiteJack is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The great media debate between Clark and Kozma highlights the significance of critically evaluating the learning media.  Their arguments are relevant today especially in light of the quick pivot to online education during the global pandemic. The following articles will be explored through their perspectives. 

Article #1 Summary

 The article, How Technology will transform learning in the COVID-19 era by Utkarash Amitabh discusses how higher education is ultimately changing to match economic trends and the ‘unbundling’ of education—this unbundling is where ed-tech provides opportunity and innovation. The author outlines four major shifts; return on investment career specializations, lifelong learning, shorter periods for learning and new business models. The author argues this unbundling will bring about a certain amount of disruption in ed-tech. These disruptions include; “learning hard skills with direct employment prospects…networking…[and] a push for soft skills”, (Amitabh, 2020). The author then points out that if higher education is to survive this era of unbundling and disruption, it will need to combine both AI and communities. Amitabh (2020) argues that ed-tech using AI and communities will bring together the world’s brightest minds to collaborate on real-world problems. Ultimately, however, the author notes that AI is still missing the community aspect and must overcome this deficit to be successful. The article ends on the notion that socio-economic factors and market trends are always a function of ed-tech being equitable. Ultimately, this clamouring for the market share may make ed-tech increasingly affordable.

Clark’s Response to Article #1

Clark’s (1994) response to Amitabh’s noted changes to education would be that they do not represent improved learning through technology. Instead, he would argue that these changes are driven by the pandemic’s political and economic climate. If Clark’s “armchair experimental criteria” (p. 1) were applied to the Artificial Intelligent (AI) referred to by Amitabh, it would fail. Even Amitabh explains that AI is most effective when used within a community. The name alone of Artificial Intelligence refers to attributes that mimic human processes; therefore, the true human interaction would be more beneficial to learning than AI acting like Clark’s metaphorical delivery truck. Amitabh identifies other trends in education like the unbundling of education as students want shorter, more specified courses. Clark would resent the great economic investment in ed-tech but would receive some reassurance that the trends brought on by COVID-19 are trends that look at providing a solution to a problem rather than trying to fit a solution to a problem.  To this, he would caution us to continue to question evidence and to carefully consider our choices in a medium.

Kozma’s response to Article #1

Ed-tech is a way for educators to innovate and bring alive the topics to engage our learners. In some cases, it is even a way for educators to streamline and capitalize on what the current societal needs are. Using the ideas put forth by Kozma (1994) in the debate whether media influences learning; we can frame Amitabh’s arguments with the following lens: In this particular era of online learning, educators can reach learners who may not otherwise be able without online platforms and e-learning. This disruption and unbundling of education provide learners with more specified and economic avenues to achieving their educational goals. Learners from around the world can now connect seamlessly to collaborate. Kozma would agree that this closing of geographical gaps has made the scope of ed-tech even more dynamic and prosperous. Kozma would likely contend that AI, one of the most intriguing technological innovations of 21st-century learning, has the potential to personalize learning and provide access to marginalized or differently-abled learners. In moving forward, the educator’s greatest challenge then becomes addressing the need to connect to others and build communities for our learners. These connection needs and the innate human drive to belong is where ed-tech should point its compass.

Article #2 Summary

 In their article, The COVID-19 pandemic has changed education forever. This is how. Li and Lalani (2020) consider the potential long-term implications of learning due to the rapid shift to online education caused by the global pandemic. They outline how ed-tech companies are taking advantage of this opportunity by offering free access, one-stop shops, and partnerships. These authors identify two possible outcomes to this shift in education. The first is the poor preparation will lead to poor sustained adoption. The second possible outcome is a new hybrid form of education. These authors list several examples of the latter but caution the effect of the digital divide. Research is cited that claims improved retention and increased speed in online learning. They provide a conflicting argument, however, that younger learners need more structure. To summarize, there are benefits and drawbacks to the shift to online learning and only time will show any lasting effects on education.

Clark’s Response to Article #2

With the pandemic closing schools worldwide and students and teachers having to shift to online learning, some educators face moving outside of their comfort zone and teaching with an unfamiliar medium. Richard E. Clark (1994) would say this shift is also forcing learners to adjust their cognition to suit these fads. There was already a growing movement for implementing e-learning across the education field, but true empiricists like Clark, know this is premature. Clark would point out that a lacklustre showing of evidence that media influences technology, the education sector needs to tread carefully through this minefield of ‘free platforms’ and ‘unlimited access’ to the unmanageable number of providers. We see the continued monetization of education in businesses pairing with public school districts under the guise of helping parents navigate online learning during school shutdowns. Clark highlights concerns on the shifting to untested and unproven methods of teaching we see in these e-learning situations. There is also the problem of equitable access. With a large percentage of families not supported with tools or bandwidth, we are only widening the education gap for those who are already struggling. Clark would agree there is an argument to be made for e-learning becoming a more efficient and seemingly economical way of learning, he would contend there is much work to be done in the realm of methodology and theory. Online learning may have the potential to democratize education and disseminate knowledge, but it should not be at the cost of sound practice and positive student outcomes.

Kozma’s Response to Article #2

Kozma’s (1994) argument avoids absolutes by considering the potential role technologies may play in the future, a future that is perhaps now being realized. Technology and the world has changed immensely, particularly in the midst of a global pandemic. Has the not-too-distant future Kozma refers to arrived? Kozma’s argument uses the improved cognitive processes for the students using ThinkerTools like the benefits in the article. Kozma points to the role of research in learning more about the influence of media on technology and he would be enthused by the number of real-world experiences occurring in education’s response to COVID-19 and the resulting shift in perspective. “Perhaps a more productive approach would be to view the design process is a dynamic, creative interaction – or conversation, to us Schon’s term – between the designer, the situation, and the medium in which the design both shapes and is shaped by each of these factors” (p. 21). In Li and Lalani’s article, we witness the mutual interactions Kozma describes as school districts, educators, and ed-tech companies work together to form a swift option for students at home. This shift to remote learning has also put more emphasis on the accessibility of technology. This prevalence of users may lead to some of the innovations and patterns Kozma alluded to.

References

Amitabh, U. G. (2020, August 31). How technology will transform learning in the COVID-19 era. Retrieved September 21, 2020, from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/08/how-edtech-will-transform-learning-in-the-covid-19-era/

Clark, R. E. (1994). Media will never influence learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 21-29. http://www.ucs.mun.ca/~bmann/0_ARTICLES/Media_Clark.html

Kozma, R. B. (1994). Will media influence learning: Reframing the debate. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 7-19. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/summary?doi=10.1.1.167.4904

Li, C. and Lalani, F. (2020, April 29). The COVID-19 pandemic has changed education forever. This is how. Retrieved September 22, 2020, from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/04/coronavirus-education-global-covid19-online-digital-learning

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