Unit 2 | Media never influence learning, and other debates in the field

(3 weeks)

In this unit, you will work in pairs, so please identify your partner early on.

Over the next three weeks, we will first investigate one of the most significant debates in our field: Do media influence learning? Do new technologies impact the ways people learn? If so, how exactly do they do that? Do they enable different ways of teaching for example, and thus change education by impacting ways of teaching? Does that mean that it’s not the technology per se, but the pedagogy that influences learning? Perhaps technology is merely a food delivery truck which might, over time, become more efficient in bringing us our food, but which ultimately does not change the nutritional value of our meals. Regardless of what we believe about the impact of technology on education, what does the research actually say? Watch my introductory video below. If you can’t see a video embedded below, view it on YouTube.

These questions constitute the core of what researchers in our field call The Great Media Debate. Becoming familiar with this debate will enable you to think critically about technology adoption, educational reform, and proposed innovations for improving education. You may have seen this thread in some of Weller’s writing already. Importantly, you’ll begin seeing this debate in many articles in the popular media. For example, there are many news articles presenting new technologies as transformative and disruptive. Here’s just a couple of titles from a quick search while I’m preparing this course:

After becoming familiar with the Great Media debate, you will be able to put forth your own arguments for or against the claims made in articles such as the ones above!

Once we complete our exploration of the Great Media Debate, we will turn our attention to assignment 2, which invites you to engage with a debate of choice in our field.

Learning Activities and Assignments

  • In the first week of this unit, read Clark and Kozma and complete Activity 5
  • In the second and third weeks of this unit, complete Assignment 2


Activity 5 | Team activity: Pinpoint the media debate in current events (Blog)

Read the two papers by Clark and Kozma and make notes of their claims and evidence. Next, in teams of two, find two articles/stories in the mass media or press releases by software/app companies that exhibit signs of techno-deterministic thinking. You can go back to as far as 2015 to identify these. In a blog post, provide links to the articles, briefly summarize their its claims, and clearly explain how Clark AND Kozma would respond to each one of these articles. Your goal is to show the relevance of the media debate and to demonstrate how knowledge of the media debate can be used to critique and question the claims made by actors in the educational technology industry. To identify these documents, you can search a news aggregator/database for specific technologies/innovations (e.g., Google News, Lexis Nexis), explore an industry site (e.g., EdSurge, Edtechmagazine), or investigate particular companies involved in the educational technology industry.