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“This will revolutionize education!”

April 24, 2015

I definitely identify with this video by science educator Derek Muller from the Australian TV show Catalyst.

A few years ago I wrote “Technology, learning, and free will,” along similar lines to several points made in the video. I love Dr. Muller’s idea that learning is about what students are asked to do, and not simply how messages are presented. Check out his excellent Veritasium channel on YouTube, but beware – it’s addictive. The guy basically wrote a book on Designing Effective Multimedia.

Richard Clark once asserted that media “do not influence student achievement any more than the truck that delivers our groceries causes changes in our nutrition”. Robert Kozma came back with the idea that media have “characteristics that make them both more and less suitable for the accomplishment of certain kinds of learning tasks.” Thomas Russell looked at research on all kinds of learning modalities and found that, when course materials and teaching methodology were held constant, there were no significant differences in outcomes between learning at a distance and face to face.

Below is an image from a vendor website that asks you to believe the tool itself is a revolution.
revolution image

My point? Technology can do good things, like make tasks go faster and provide access to people or resources. However, it doesn’t inherently make professors teach better or insure that students learn. If the underlying strategy is flawed, then adding or changing technology will not have a reliable positive impact on learning.

Learn more

[Tip of the hat to Charles Barbour]

Post updated April 27, 2015
Image added April 28, 2015

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