Unit 3 | Do media ever influence learning?

(2 weeks)

In Unit 3, we will 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 changing 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. 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!

Learning Activities and Assignments


Activity 6 | 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 4 or 5 individuals, find four documents (e.g., op-eds, stories in the mass media, press releases by software/app companies) that are in stark contrast to the analysis presented by either Clark or Kozma. You can go back to as far as 2015 to identify these. In a blog post, for each of the four articles you discover: link to the article, summarize its claims, and clearly explain how those claims contrast with specific claims/evidence put forth by Clark and Kozma. 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.