While I was reading the debate among Kozma, Clark, Petkovich, and Cobb, there are quite a few questions or problems I had been trying to seek rational answers. Among them, there are questioins in conceptual and methodological aspects.
First, none of the authors clearly defined what media mean and what medias are included in their debate. On dictionary.com, media has the entries of:
1. a pl. of medium.
2. (usually used with a plural verb) the means of communication, as radio and television, newspapers, and magazines, that reach or influence people widely: The media are covering the speech tonight. –adjective
3. pertaining to or concerned with such means: a job in media research.
—Usage note Media, like data, is the plural form of a word borrowed directly from Latin. The singular, medium, early developed the meaning “an intervening agency, means, or instrument” and was first applied to newspapers two centuries ago. In the 1920s media began to appear as a singular collective noun, sometimes with the plural medias. This singular use is now common in the fields of mass communication and advertising, but it is not frequently found outside them: The media is (or are) not antibusiness.
On M-W.com, the definition of Media makes more sense under the context of the discussion of learning as a plural form of the word Medium. Under the entry of medium, there is 2 : a means of effecting or conveying something: . . . b plural usually media (1) : a channel or system of communication, information, or entertainment -- compare MASS MEDIUM (2) : a publication or broadcast that carries advertising (3) : a mode of artistic expression or communication (4) : something (as a magnetic disk) on which information may be stored
From both source, a reasonable and general understanding of media can be achieved. Media, means of effecting or conveying something. Under this understanding, any sense of human body can be the target of certain meida. If this is the case, there is a need to clearify the focus or the specific media that the debate we are reading concerns. I assume that the media under discussion is computer or digital based assistive learning environment or simulation. Basically, that will stimulate the senses of vision and hearing. But if we follow the definition of media, there should be a wider range of media forms that can be included and studied. Actually, the debate of media lead me to another concept, the technology. To be specific, the information technology related media.
Second, in the system of Clark arguing his position of usefullessness of media, there is two significant links dropped if we considering learning and teaching process as an organic process. He missed the learners difference in receiving and processing information or knowledge via different media and the competence of instructors applying different media. That can make huge difference of both learning outcome and pedagogical design for different content knowledge (if we think that is knowledge instead of information only).
Third, Clark's argument was based on the linear and B & M traditional classroom instruction, where the advantages of different media can hardly be displayed. Put the media in a position of incompetence for certain learning tasks.
Fourth, can we really completely seperate media from method? If not, the root of Clark's discussion is in jeopardy.
Another thread of my problems is the importance of empirical study, specifically in the field of media and learning, should be more appreciated.