The Great Media Debate

Co-Authored by: Alisha and Angela

Perhaps the enduring quality of The Great Media Debate between Richard Clark and Robert Kozma lies in the tension between the romanticism of traditional learning and the techno-deterministic optimism surrounding digital media in education.

How interactive whiteboards took over

Interactive whiteboards, perhaps best known for the Smartboard brand, were first invented in 1990. Within a decade they flooded schools and many believed that they would revolutionize education. Fast-forward to present day: Many schools are phasing out these aging giants and defaulting to data projectors and analog whiteboards. Clark (1994) and Kozma (1994) might each argue different reasons for this, but we believe they would agree on one thing: Excellent learning methodology is key, regardless of media.

Clark’s stance on the replaceability test would argue that interactive whiteboards are really no different from data projectors combined with a traditional whiteboard or chalkboard. They are simply vehicles to deliver content and facilitate learning activities. Kozma would likely rebut that interactive whiteboards possess some unique attributes such as touch sensors that allow teachers and learners to employ different methods suited to their complex social and cultural contexts. Theoretically, these unique attributes contribute to greater engagement and learning, plus increased efficiency for teachers. Clark would be quick to point out that due to the high capital purchase cost, installation and maintenance, plus the ability to use other media for similar functions, they are unnecessary, or perhaps even irrelevant. In addition to these arguments, aging fleets of interactive whiteboards are declining in functionality and teachers often simply use them as projectors these days. 

Despite this, the industry is growing, and many teachers and learners use interactive whiteboards and other technology in innovative ways to support and further powerful social learning. We would ultimately support Kozma’s argument that media and method are linked, but we also agree with both Clark and Kozma, that excellent methods precede media.

Is TikTok the fastest growing social media platform in 2021?

The advent of TikTok has changed the way audiences receive and interact with media. It offers you 15 seconds to shine your light on the world and allows content creators to work through instant gratification to reel in views with hopes of signaling an algorithm that ensures virality. The impacts of TikTok extend beyond techno-determinism to outright validation; from news media and journalism to pop artists, content must meet a certain standard and reach new younger audiences. Musicians have also felt the consequences, affecting the way media is created, for example songwriting to fit the 15 second threshold. Artists have to consider the algorithms that dictate what is heard and how far content spreads, therefore creators must constantly adapt and be creative to remain relevant. In education, TikTok can be applied to pedagogy and practice for positive effects such as creative engagement, responsibility, community-building, and networking.

Today, Clark (1994) would argue that TikTok is just another medium that requires teaching presence, that it does not meet the replaceability test, and that it is not a method because content creators are the instructors providing learning. Kozma (1994), on the other hand, would say that the relationship between users and the media of TikTok is interactive and reciprocal. He would say that TikTok asks creators to process and represent information within the parameters or requirements of the tool, therefore the media impacts the learning. Content creators must understand TikTok’s symbol systems, or rules, in order to interact with it, which in turn represents the user’s knowledge of the system. The only downside is that this media does not produce these impacts for viewers, only for content creators. In this regard, creators and viewers represent a limited segment of the population and one might wonder about the social impact and longevity of this and other social media.


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

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

Is tiktok the fastest growing social media platform in 2021? (2021, July 13). W3 Lab.  

Vázquez-Herrero, J., Negreira-Rey, M.C., & López-García, X. (2020). Let’s dance the news! How the news media are adapting to the logic of tiktok. Journalism, 1-19.

Yoshida, K. (2021, February 17). How interactive whiteboards took over. Scot Scoop News. 

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