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High Expectations for Technology
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September 9, 2021 - 9:34 pm

As I stated in my 1983 article, my argument is that learning is caused by instructional methods or uncontrolled effects instead of the media used in the process. Results of meta-analyses show that causal relationships between media and learning are confounded. To claim a causal relationship, everything except the media should be identical in control and treatment groups. However, this is not the case in many of the studies. Therefore, we should carefully question what causes learning. Is it because of the instructor, content, method, or the media? In addition, using media in educational settings is a new phenomenon both for teachers and students. This novelty might present misleading results because teachers might spend more time/effort in the preparation process of lessons with media. Similarly, students might be more enthusiastic to learn with media, which means that the actual reason for learning might be motivation of students or increased quality in design rather than the media. Even though, there is a new trend in research, focusing on attributes of media, it does not seem enough for theory development. Therefore, based on the literature, I can say that media do not influence learning. They are tools in instructional processes.

After reading the article, I tried to think as a person living in 1980s when technologies are new and simple compared to today. With this perspective, Clark’s points can be reasonable, but almost all of his points depended on quantitative data and learning gains determined by tests. Although I can agree with him to some extent about high expectations for technology, research designs and perspectives about media should be changed to examine the learning-media relationship.

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September 10, 2021 - 7:14 am

Thank you, Dr. Clark, and thank you, Betul, as Dr. Clark for your nuanced post. I was wondering if you could elaborate on what you mean by this statement: “Although I can agree with him to some extent about high expectations for technology, research designs and perspectives about media should be changed to examine the learning-media relationship.” What exactly do you mean here? How do you think the research designs should be changed from what Clark advocated in the 1980s? How do you think the perspectives about media should be changed?

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September 10, 2021 - 6:24 pm

I think what Clark was trying to do by establishing a relationship between media and learning was ahead of its times based on where his paper was published. What stands to be noted here is that while the discussion is important, the same cannot be sustanied over time simply due to the speed with which media technology has grown.

My question to Clark is also about the level of learning that he believes remains unaffected by the use of media. In other words, is he looking students at a particular time in their learning careers, in their primary, secondary or higher levels, or is this a blanket theorization of the lack of impact that the use of media has on learning?

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September 10, 2021 - 11:58 pm

Thank you for your questions, Dr. Greenhow. My statement was a combination of Clark’s and Kozma’s points (if I understood them correctly). One of the Clark’s claim was that previous studies were researching with media instead of research of media. Thus, I thought research designs should ensure that everything, except the media, should be identical in studies (e.g., content, instructor, student background) as much as possible. I stemmed my second point from Kozma’s argument regarding having a more comprehensive framework, including social, affective, and cognitive gains of participants, in studies rather than adopting solely behavioral paradigm.

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