Clark, R. E. (1994). Media will never influence learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 21-29.
The 1994 journal article written by Richard E Clark is a review and summary of the existing cannon of arguments from various scholars including Lumsdaine (1963) who deny the ability of media to influence learning and argue that the “benefits of media were primarily economic and their use was to develop the technology of instructional method” The scholar Mielke is cited by Clark as referenced in the Educational Broadcast Review (Mielke, 1968) in the journal article titled “Questions the Questions of ETV Research where Mielke states, “adequately designed research on the learning benefits of various media would yield no significant benefits between treatments.” Wilbur Shramm (1977) concludes that learning is influenced, “More by the content and instructional strategy in a medium than by the type of medium.” Ultimately, Clark reports puzzlement as to why his restated conclusion that there are, “no differences expected” regarding the application of technology to learning 10 years after he first made the statement elicited “so much attention”.
The author’s argument that,”media will never influence learning” has direct application to adult education and/or employee training programs in business where media/technology is often a significant part of the training/adult learning program, and because these are environments where funding and resources for program maintenance, let alone expansion are often under pressure and face resistance. Familiarity with Clark’s rational helps proponents to understand, anticipate, blunt, redirect and ultimately effectively combat the naysayers. Reliable, multidimensional metrics and reports and data developed over time may be among the first lines of defense/offense.
The article is particularly useful because it presents the strongly-reasoned and well supported view of a scholar who present the viewpoint that technology in and of itself does not bring a learning benefit to education and that it never will. The grocery truck analogy suggesting the lack of importance to nutrition made by the truck doing the transporting function is a very elegant argument. As a novice scholar to the educational technology field it is useful to read and understand the point of view of the side of the academy which denies technology as a necessary, valuable or useful addition to the field. Until reading this article this viewpoint seemed entirely overshadowed by those who seem to believe that technology is always good and useful in the context of education.