The Great Media Debate Continues…

By Gail and Luis

For this activity, we were tasked with investigating the Great Media Debate in the Ed Tech field where Clark and Kozma expressed opposing viewpoints.  Simply stated, Clark (1994) believes that media does not influence learning and compares media to a “vehicle” which delivers instruction whereas Kozma (1994) believes that new technologies offer opportunities to change things and how it has the potential to impact how teaching and learning occur.  We chose these 2 articles to demonstrate the relevance of the media debate by applying Clark & Kozma’s points of view to critique and question the articles’ claims.  

Quizlet teams up with TikTok for interactive learning.

In January 2021, it was announced that educators using TikTok for teaching would be able to reach their students in a new way by integrating Quizlet interactive flashcards directly into their short-form videos.  This integration would shift TikTok’s platform into the education world and support their Creative Learning Fund.  This fund aims to address the COVID-19 pandemic challenges to remote and hybrid learning by bringing educational programs created by educators and other subject matter experts to the platform.  

The director of growth at Quizlet, Phil Carter (2021) states, “this integration between TikTok and Quizlet is a unique opportunity to bring together the fastest-growing mobile entertainment platform, and the largest AI-powered learning platform to reach students where they are” (para. 3).  The presumption is that educators can enhance their TikTok videos with Quizlet’s links thereby allowing students to engage and learn in a more interactive way on the popular platform.  TikTok’s head of product, Sean Kim (2021) states, “the integration with Quizlet is an important step in our commitment to assist creators in the production of learning content, provide resources for learners and introduce emerging teachers to the TikTok platform” (para. 6).

Clark would argue that this new integration of video and flashcards would not influence student learning based on his initial claim that media are “mere vehicles that deliver instruction” and that TikTok combined with Quizlet are just a different delivery “vehicle”.  Sean Kim (2021) states the integration “can help build human connection, promote creating learning content and inspire enriching ideas” and although Clark would agree that there is strong evidence that different media attributes accomplish the same learning goal.  He would maintain that it is not the media that influences the learning and instead it is the method.  

Kozma’s position on this new media partnership would ask the question:  how does this integration affect learning?  He would dispute that technology is a “vehicle” and stress that this media partnership possesses certain characteristics which make it more suitable to achieve particular learning tasks (1994).  Kozma (1994) would argue that learning with media is a complementary process where the learner and the media (TikTok and Quizlet) interact to expand and refine the learner’s mental model of a particular phenomenon.   

Incorporating popular media into social studies learning.

Darcy White has over 20 years of experience teaching secondary social sciences and is currently a Social Studies Curriculum Developer in California. In this article, she describes how students spend a lot of their time in front of their phones and other devices. She also points out how easy it is nowadays for students to create and share content to a large audience. As a teacher, instead of competing with the multiple devices and trending technologies she decided to embrace the popular culture and incorporate it in her lectures. White believes that using a variety of media such as movies, TV sitcoms and TikTok videos among others can be an effective learning tool for students. White (2021) states,  “the trick is to give students the opportunity to relate to the topic” (para. 9).

Clark would be intrigued to learn how White has implemented the new media and technology to her lectures. However, he would still argue that White’s methods “do not influence student achievement” and that her use of media in her classes are simply a different way of delivering instruction and does not influence learning under any circumstances.  

In contrast, Kozma (1994) would argue that the use of various new media with their own distinct capabilities would complement those of the learners producing an improved learning experience. Kozma would concur with White in her use of various media for her lectures since he perceives learning as an “active, constructive, cognitive and social process”. Kozma would align with White’s beliefs arguing that by forging a relationship between media and learning, the process itself can also contribute to the creation of new methods of instruction delivery. 


EdScoop Staff (2021, January 28). Quizlet teams up with TikTok for interactive learning. Higher Education.

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.

White, D. (2021, Sept. 7). Incorporating popular media into social studies learning. SmartBrief. Industry news.







4 thoughts on “The Great Media Debate Continues…”

  1. Hi Gail and Luis,
    Thanks for your post! Clark argued that learning is not motivated by media – do you think these decisions to use Tiktok and popular media prove otherwise? Do you think these methods are more than vehicles, and play a role in influencing the students’ motivation to learn?

    1. Thank you Jolee for your question. We believe that TikTok and other popular media do prove otherwise. We acknowledge that at the time Clark’s had a different perception of media capabilities than what it is today. While Clark will most likely stay firm in his point of view, we know that access to media and media itself has evolved and that it is not fair to make the comparison.
      As for your other question, we think that new media and technologies are part of our everyday lives. Some students may definitely find these new media forms more engaging and motivating. We agree with Kozma’s (1994) argument that new media along with new pedagogy creates a more enhanced learning environment where students adapt, learn and engage.
      Thank you,
      Gail & Luis

  2. Very interesting! I have not read about this team up Gail and Luis. Thank you for sharing. I do use Quizlet sometimes because it is a quick way to do some review but recently I have been using it because it is a way that I can do an activity real time with both my online and in-person students simultaneously. I also love how there is a QR code for fast access. Do you use both platforms for teaching in your class? Have you seen how the two platforms are working together? To be honest, I am not on TikTok yet. Curious how it could be used in class.

    1. Hi Sam,
      Thank you for your comments and sharing how you use Quizlet. Both of us are not doing any formal teaching at the moment but are familiar with the platforms. I just found this link on using TikTok in the classroom. Teachers can use these tools to help with students with learning as students may find these new tools more engaging and inviting than the good old index card and textbook. Hope this may provide you with some inspiration and ideas. Thanks.

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