Rich, great points!
Originally posted on Rich McCue v4.0:
I’d be the first to admit that when presented with shiny new technology, I am predisposed to expect that the new technology will perform better than the old. New smart phones for the past six years have almost always been better than their predecessors. Can the same be said for new educational technologies? The short answer is no, new educational technologies alone do lead to better student outcomes.
When trying to determine if a technology contributes to the effectiveness of instruction, the issue of “no difference expected” made famous by the Clark, Kozma (Kozma, 1994) debate needs to be addressed. Clark (Clark, 1994) argued that “media are mere vehicles that deliver instruction” and that “student achievement [is not influenced by a new delivery technology like video] any more than the truck that delivers our groceries causes changes in our nutrition” (p. 22). Kozma (1994) countered that while Clark’s argument is often correct, “if media are going to influence learning, media must be designed to give us powerful new methods, and our methods must take appropriate advantage of a medium’s capabilities” (p.16).
When Clark (1994) defended his argument that the delivery media for instruction usually does not make a difference in, the technological landscape was much different. VHS video tapes were the primary means of watching on demand educational videos. Microsoft Windows 3.11 was the dominant desktop operating system, and dial-up modems using phone lines achieving speeds of 0.028 Mps were state of the art (compared to 2-20 Mps in 2013). At the same time, educational content was just starting to be distributed through relatively expensive multi-media CD-ROM applications for Windows and Macintosh. I suspect that in his era, Clark’s assessment that technology does not improve instruction was close to 100% true. On the other hand, with 20+ years of maturation and significant improvements in bandwidth, hardware speed, and authoring tool usability improvements, technology is now in a position to make a large positive impact in the delivery of instruction by enabling new pedagogical approaches to instruction, like Flipped Classrooms and PBL’s with virtual simulations and collaboration (Becker, 2010).