by George Veletsianos.  

Hi everyone,

I hope you enjoyed this week’s readings. I’ve read all posts to date, and they are a pleasure to read! I thought that every single post did a great job viewing the articles shared through Clark’s and Kozma’s perspectives. If you haven’t taken a peek yet, you may enjoy reading

·      John and Alison’s post discussing the use of Minecraft in a course at Ryerson University,

·      Kristin and Sandra’s post discussing two articles from the World Economic Forum, an organisation which often advocates for the use of technology in education, and

·      Rod and David’s post, in particular article #2, where they examine a recent article published in TechCrunch by the founding CEO of Rosetta Stone. I would be remiss to explain why this article is interesting: Tech Crunch and Silicon Valley are intertwined, and technological solutionism permeates the publication. Looking at writing from this outlet from a Clark/Kozma perspective is a worthwhile effort!

Finally, Shelley and Vanessa analyze a piece of software called Class for Zoom, which isn’t something I was anticipating, but it was insightful. If we can examine writing about the use of technology from a Clark/Kozma perspective, why now examine software from a Clark/Kozma perspective?! I think I’ll make this suggestion to future students!

At this stage, I want to offer my own summary of Clark and Kozma for you.

Clark’s position is that media do not impact learning. He arrived at this position by conducting a systematic analysis of the evidence to date (in 1994). To put this in the context of an example, imagine asking two groups of students to watch a lecture. The first group watches a live lecture and the second group watches a recording of it (e.g., on videotape, or youtube, or…). Clark’s findings posit that if you gave an exam to the two groups you’d expect the two groups to score similarly. There would be no significant differences between the two groups. In other words, we wouldn’t be able to see any differences in learning outcomes between the two groups, meaning that media (video, youtube, etc) did not have a significant impact on learning. Clark goes on to argue that in cases where we do see differences in outcomes, it’s not because there was something inherently different between media. Rather it was because of something else, some other factors. Perhaps the students in the media group could replay the videos and watch the lecture over and over, meaning that they watched the lecture more times compared to the other group and had more opportunities to learn the material. Or, perhaps they had more time to take the exam, and so on. In those cases, it’s not the media per se that impact learning, but those other factors (time, practice, etc). Put differently, Clark argues that in rigorous experimental studies one would find no evidence for media influencing learning.

Kozma’s position is different. He argues that whether media * cause * learning is the wrong question to ask. Instead, he says that what we should be asking is the following: “In what ways can we use the capabilities of media to influence learning for particular students, tasks, and situations?" Thus, he believes that media provide opportunities to impact learning in particular contexts and we should be making use of them, instead of seeking the lowest cost solution that is implicit in Clark’s position. A few examples may make this position clearer: Could the use of drones for capturing photos above crops enable students to learn about agriculture in different ways? Perhaps drones aren’t applicable for all tasks and situations, but could contribute significantly in some contexts.

What’s really interesting about this debate is that you can see it in all sorts of writing about educational technology. You saw this already. You all identified many relevant examples.

Ultimately, the debate is irreconcilable, which is why it still persists, and why you find people who align with one or another side. Personally, I tend to agree with Clark, especially as I frequently encounter examples of technology being used for technology’s sake (see the lecture example above). Nevertheless, I don’t believe that all technologies are the same or that all technologies replicate familiar activities. There are instances where new technologies make possible something different, such as a new pedagogy. For instance, our public blogs allow people from outside of out course to add their thoughts to your work. In a closed environment, such as an LMS, that would be more difficult to support. So, there may be times when you’ll find me supporting Kozma’s stance.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s readings and exploration of these positions. As you encounter similar positions in your program and work, remember to consider how Clark and/or Kozma would respond, and consider how your approach may differ.

As you’re working on assignment #2, please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions! Believe it or not, we are approaching the halfway point of the course!