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Media’s Influence on Learning:<br />A Teacher’s Position on the Debate<br />Jessica Hollon<br />University of Wyoming<br />Summary of Kozma’s Position<br />Kozma believes that media can influence learning. In his paper Learning With Media, Kozma (1991) wrote that capabilities of a particular medium, in conjunction with methods that take advantage of these, interact with and influence learning when one medium is used compared to another, for certain learners and tasks. Kozma further states that it is his belief that a learner, when allowed to interact with a certain media is more apt to learn a specific skill or gain specific knowledge because of the fact that media can complement the processing capabilities and learning styles of a learner. <br />In Kozma’s follow up paper Will Media Influence Learning? Reframing the Debate, he mentions that we must think about media not in terms of their surface features, but in terms of their underlying structure and the casual mechanisms by which they might interact with cognitive and social processes (Kozma, 1994). Kozma (1991) is sure to also point out that while some students will learn a particular task regardless of the delivery device, others will be able to take advantage of a particular medium’s characteristics to help construct knowledge. Kozma (1991) also contends that Clark creates an unnecessary schism between medium and method; and that medium and method have a more integral relationship, both being part of design. <br />Summary of Clark’s Position<br />Clark (1983) wrote that media are “mere vehicles that deliver instruction but do not influence student achievement any more than the truck that delivers our groceries causes changes in our nutrition.” He goes on to bring up that if learning occurs as a result of exposure to any media, the learning is caused by the instructional method embedded in the media presentation. Clark makes a point that “media and their attributes have important influences on the cost or speed of learning but only the use of adequate instructional methods will influence learning and that any necessary teaching method can be delivered to students by many media or a variety of mixtures of media attributes-with similar learning results.” A final point Clark (1994) makes is that design science calls for designers to choose the less expensive solution; and that would most likely mean not media, but a solution that could in his view influence learning in the same way.<br />My Professional Area and Environment<br />I am a classroom teacher in a Wyoming public school teaching twenty-one third graders. My professional area of expertise is early childhood education, and I have a large amount of background knowledge on scaffolding students’ learning, as well as using differentiated instruction. I have also recently begun to study more about integrating technology into the elementary classroom. <br />I think of myself as a constructivist. I like for my students to be able to participate in an explorative type of learning. I find that this type of learning motivates students and keeps them interested in the topics being studied. <br />The use of media as an educational tool is a concept that is becoming more and more at the forefront of my profession. As technology continues to advance and media is being used in new and cutting edge ways to aid educators in teaching, professionals in my field need to be educated on what makes a certain type of media effective at facilitating learning. <br />Agreement/Disagreement and Reasons<br />After reading Clark’s paper, I must say that he is a very skillful and convincing writer. He makes good points and presents them wonderfully, but I only agree with a small portion of what he states. I agree with the fact that behind every type of media used in the classroom there needs to be sound instructional methods applied to its use. It is not the case that students can simply use a type of media and magically have learning take place. Media does need to be utilized by way of proven instructional methods. <br />I disagree with Clark’s idea that media itself cannot influence learning. If media is used with instructional methods that trigger background knowledge and enthusiasm for what is being taught, and that allows for scaffolding of skills and practice applying these skills, I believe that media can be very influential in learning. <br />There are types of media that address learning as an active process, where learners are allowed to manipulate objects, pause, repeat, and replay audio, and be a truly active participant in their learning. An example of this would be TinkerTools used by Kozma as an example of media influencing learning in his 1994 paper. With TinkerTools students interact with the media through four phases of motivation, evolution, formalization, and transfer of knowledge. While Clark seems to view instructional media from a behaviorist approach, or a method “happening to” the learner, Kozma’s example lends itself to using media in a constructivist approach where learners “interact” with the media. <br />Stenger and Garfinkel (2003) conclude that learning happens constructively and that the most effective way a person learns is by constructing knowledge through the world in which he/she lives. I agree with this statement and believe that the constructivist theory encourages students to take advantage of media advances and use it to gain knowledge and construct their own meanings. Neo and Meo (2004) write of classroom innovations and state that multimedia can be an effective instructional medium of delivering information because it enables the teacher to represent the information in various media via sound, text, animations, video, and images. <br />I agree with the points that Kozma makes because he seems to understand that media, if it is going to influence learning, needs to be of quality; but also that media caters to learners’ specific learning styles and needs. He used an example in his 1994 paper where fluent readers are reading a passage with technical words and have to keep back tracking in order to read each word, but then the comprehension of the passage is lessened by the readers going back to decode words. Kozma then goes on to explain that if the reader were allowed to listen to the passage they could get the words of the passage by auditory senses. This would mean readers could then use most of their mental powers to comprehend the passage instead of trying to both decode technical words and comprehend the passage. <br />In this way, Kozma demonstrates that media can facilitate operations for the learner in order for the learner to focus their attention on the information they need in order for their own learning to take place. According to Mayer (1999), one of the most important promises of multimedia is that learners appreciate multimedia explanations better than just words alone. Learners can comprehend pictures and sound more easily than words. If words alone are presented to the learners, they try to form their own mental images and this may cause them to miss the actual points of learning.<br />I also tend to agree with Kozma because he looks at the issue from a very constructivist point of view. Kozma (1994) states that learning is viewed as an active, constructive process whereby the learner strategically manages the available cognitive resources to create new knowledge by extracting information from the environment and integrating it with information already stored in memory. <br />Additional Perspectives<br />The fact that multimedia environments have the capability of creating dynamic representations of constructs that are frequently missing in the mental models of novices (Kozma, 1991) is the statement that hinges Kozma’s view and makes it the view I agree with most. While looking for additional authorities on this subject, and their perspectives, I found that there are others who also agree with Kozma. <br />Moreno and Mayer (2000) write that multimedia environments allow learners to integrate information from different representation formats and sensory modalities into one meaningful experience. This statement goes hand in hand with Kozma’s example of readers who could better understand a passage when they could listen to it, and focusing only on comprehension, and not decoding technical words. The representational format would be the auditory integration, and it would allow learners to integrate the information into their own background knowledge without having to read the passage themselves, thus influencing and strengthening their learning. Teaching with more representations facilitates and strengthens the learning process by providing several mutually referring sources of information (Grouws, 1992; National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 1989). Finally, Moreno and Mayer (1999) state that past studies in multimedia learning have shown that students learn better when information is presented in verbal, visual, and symbolic formats rather than in symbolic formats alone. <br />Each of these additional perspectives on the use of media and multimedia education seem to be agreeing on one thing: The fact that media’s use and the use of multimedia are influencing learning and will continue to do so. <br />Clark, R. E. (1994). Media will never influence learning, Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 21-29.<br />Grouws, D. A. (1992). Handbook of Research on Mathematics Teaching and Learning. (pp. 243-275). New York: Macmillian.<br />Kozma, R. B. (1991). Learning with media. Review of Educational Research, 61(2), 179-212.<br />Kozma, R. B. (1994). Will media influence learning: reframing the debate. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 7-19.<br />Mayer, R. E. (1999). Multimedia aids to problem-solving transfer. International Journal of Educational Research, 31. 611-623.<br />Moreno, R., & Mayer, R. E. (2000). A coherence effect in multimedia learning: The case for minimizing irrelevant sounds in the design of multimedia instructional messages. Journal of Educational Psychology.<br />National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (1989). Curriculum standards for teaching mathematics. Reston, VA.<br />Neo, T., & Meo, M. (2004). Classroom innovations: engaging students in interactive multimedia learning. Campus-wide information systems, 21, 118-124.<br />Stenger, C., & Garfinkel, B. (2003) How the constructivist approach to learning can be used to attain standards. Glen Forest Elementary School. Fairfax Country.<br /> <br />