Clark, “Reconsidering Research on Learning From Media”

Clark maintains that there is “consistent evidence for the generalization that there are no learning benefits to be gained from employing any specific medium to deliver instruction,” as the “best current evidence is that media are mere vehicles that deliver instruction but do not influence student achievement” (p. 445). As the title of his article indicates, Clark’s primary focus (or aim) is on the research that had been conducted on (and in favor of) media and learning (e.g. media comparison studies) to that point, which he sees largely as flawed or almost entirely unconvincing.

I don’t come from a strictly educational background (that is, I’ve done some teaching–of composition and literature to undergraduates–but don’t necessarily consider myself a–professionally trained–teacher), but I strongly suspect that many of Clark’s arguments in this article can be dismissed with examples of educational technologies (and research conducted on them) developed since the writing of this article. There are a few points, however, that I did find both convincing and worth continued consideration–namely, his arguments that called attention to the novelty factor that any new technology can create in a learner–that does not necessarily result (broadly speaking) in genuine learning. I also thought his wariness about the “the advertising budgets of the multimillion dollar industry which has a vested interest in selling these machines for instruction” (p. 456) is worth keeping in mind–if in a slightly less cynical way.

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