With an election coming up, I’ve been hearing the term “double-down” in media and conversation more often than usual as of late. I’ve always found it to be a helpful explanation of context when referring to arguments/discussions/controversies as it is straight to the point in describing any particular discourse.

After reading three articles in succession, Media Will Never Influence Learning by Clark, Will Media Influence Learning? Reframing the Debate by Kozma, and The Clark-Kozma Debate in the 21st Century by Becker, I cannot think of a better way to describe what I think Clark went through in the formulation of his arguments.

Before I continue, I would have to point out that I am a ‘bleeding edge’ technological adopter. If something is new, raw, and of debatable worth in EdTech, I’m still likely to make use of it and attempt to refine it. Therefore, I found myself yelling at my computer screen while reading Clark’s articles; I am absolutely biased and against his point of view from the beginning. But I do not think my bias is generated from the general over enthusiasm which over powers negative data (as Clark so claims) but rather due to my own immersion in EdTech as both a student and teacher.

I think my bias, as well as my general dismissal of Clark’s argument, could both be forgiven as I am writing a Blog referencing my notes in Onenote which i took when reading the PDF articles through a Proxy which I accessed on a Website and discussed with my cohort on Virtual teleconference software. I’m already immersed in the media medium that Clark dismisses as superfluous. I like it better than traditional methods, which is the downfall of Clark’s argument.

Of course my opinion of what I enjoy more is irrelevant to the basic tenants of Clark’s argument. But at the same time, that also highlights Clark’s failure to ask bigger questions. I have attended university where I have had instructors use traditional mediums of learning (pen/paper, stand&deliver) and EdTech mediums. I learned in both cases, but the experience of my learning was vastly different. Does a learner’s experience of how they learned affect how well they learn? Yes. Kozma researched as much: However, the students using ThinkerTools both demonstrated significantly greater improvement and scored significantly higher than the high school students who were on the average six years older, had selected themselves into physics, and had been taught about force and motion using traditional methods.

Furthermore, I’m aghast as to how Clark does not at all reflect on the duties and roles of a classroom teacher. As a middle school teacher, I absolutely have the tools to force knowledge and traditional learning on my students. It isn’t hard. But that is not my role….or at least I was not trained to do that. Instead, it is my role to have my students become excited about their learning. They need to want to be at school. To encourage a thirst for learning, even if it just centered on particular subject areas, is a huge measure of success for teachers. In both my practicum and interview (to be hired) it was my responsibility to demonstrate to my evaluators that I would motivate my learners. How does Clark not branch out to this bigger question?

This leads me to start thinking about Clark’s mindset when he was formulating his position, and I believe he doubled-down. Clark must have realized that at some point media would evolve into something he could not predict. It is not the responsibility of an academic to assert that developments in their field may morph into things which are game changing?

While I cannot look back in time and have absolutely no proof to base the following scenario, consider it for your entertainment. I believe it is not unlikely.

Consider that while Clark formulated his argument/response to Kozma, he had the realization that media could perhaps introduce new methods (ex. immediate and automatic adjustment of content to match proximal development, congruent management and evaluation of multiple student progressions) which were more efficient and ‘economic’ (as he puts it) than the traditional methods/mediums. To strengthen his position, the replicability test was created: if media only delivered the same method that a non-media medium could also deliver, then the media was irrelevant and/or a waste, as it is not necessary for learning.

Frankly, it is a pretty sound test. It is difficult to think of any learning that cannot be accomplished in the traditional sense (not to say the test does not sometimes fail!). But Clark continued to neglect the bigger picture. He double-downed with the test. It is fairly firm ground to stand on in the debate, but from the point of view of a teacher and blossoming scholar, his test was a measure to merely defend a narrow and specific position of the ways of learning content. The motivation to learn and continue learning is what is important. Clark never once gives credence to this fact, and then calls out the reader for even considering it: “Design science (and a world with limited resources and many competing problems) requires that you choose the least expensive solution and give up your enthusiasm for the belief that media attributes cause learning”.


Overall, it was difficult for me to examine this grouping of readings as I knew, prior to starting any of them, where my position on the matter would be. Dealing with the conflict in a group of articles is hard but beneficial. I have much more insight to my reflex into the matter. Knowing my reflexes and feelings in the debate, I could likely play devil’s advocate and attack Kozma and Becker to ensure that I could still validate my own position while maintaining a more objective point of view. Would I counter them with the same vigor in which I critically examined Clark’s position? It is likely my responsibility to do so, as it would be in any debate. This leaves me smiling though, as I know that I would procrastinate after the work I put into attacking Clark; what if I suddenly have the epiphany that Kozma is missing the point entirely and my time writing this was all for not?

…instead, maybe I could think of a better way to negate Clark’s position…

Articles cited:

Clark, R.E. (1994). Media will never influence learning. Educational Technology Research and Development. 42 (2),  21-29. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02299088

Kozma, R.B. (1994). Will media influence learning? Reframing the debate. Educational Technology Research and Development. 42 (2), 17-19. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02299087

Becker, K. (2010). The Clark-Kozma Debate in the 21stCentury. Paper presented at the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education 2010 Conference. Published under Creative Commons. (http://mruir.mtroyal.ca:8080/xmlui/bitstream/handle/11205/143/clark_kozma_21century.pdf?sequence=1)