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. Please use this google doc to connect with a partner.

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 George’s introductory video below. If you can’t see a video embedded below, view it on YouTube. If you are wondering who George is, be sure to watch the Course Welcome video  or read the transcript here.

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!

The Great Media Debate Readings:

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.

Before you begin you might want to take a moment to check out a great refresher on How to Read a Journal Article

Learning Activities and Assignments

  • In the first week of this unit, read the Clark and Kozma articles below and complete Activity 5
  • In the second week of this unit, complete Activity 6 – Book Club #2
  • 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.

Consider how these readings connect to other things that you’ve read or discussed in this program and in your professional life. 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 collaboratively-authored blog post, provide links to the articles, briefly summarize their claims, and clearly explain how Clark AND Kozma would respond to each one of these articles.

You are to jointly write a post and share it on one (or both if you wish) of your blogs. 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.

Activity 6 Book Club #2

On Friday Sept 29 10 – 11am Pacific time I will host a conversation about the great media debate. Think of this as a book club discussion except this time we are focusing on the two articles that frame the great media debate. You should come to it prepared to discuss them and your thoughts about them. Take some notes in preparation for this live discussion with others as you read the Clark and Kozma articles. These might be questions, points of confusion, ideas, or just general thoughts. Feel free to keep those notes private or post them on your blog. For those of you that can’t make this time, I feel free to organize a separate meeting in order to discuss them yourselves, and I will provide the link to the recording of the live session as a possible way to frame your discussion. Please use this discussion board to identify others who aren’t able to make the Book Club #2 session. There are no formal deliverables in relation to this activity. My goal for you is to think through the great media debate, its lessons, its ideas, and discuss those with others.