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Monday, January 11, 2016

The Learning-Media Transaction

by Ihor Cap, Ph.D.
The manner in which the learning-media transaction materializes depends largely upon what is understood and believed about instructional technology.  According to the Commission on Instructional Technology this involves consideration of at least two major viewpoints or definitions.  The Commission (Tickton, 1970, p.21) reports that:

In its more familiar sense, it means the media born of the communications revolution which  can be used for instructional purposes alongside the teacher, textbook and blackboard. . ... In order to reflect present-day reality, the Commission has had to look at the pieces that make up instructional technology: television, films, overhead projectors,  computers, and other items of "hardware" and "software" (to use the convenient jargon that distinguishes machines from programs).   ... The second and less familiar definition of instructional technology goes beyond any   particular medium or device.  In this sense, instructional technology is more than the sum of its parts.  It is a systematic way of designing, carrying out, and evaluating the total process of learning and teaching in terms of specific objectives, based on research in human learning and communication, and employing a combination of human and nonhuman resources to bring about more effective instruction.
The general notion of educators having always been dependent on the physical manifestations of technology in enhancing or improving instruction enjoys a long history (Anderson, 1962; Reiser, 1987; Saettler, 1968).  The first definition mentioned above supports this general notion.  More often than not, this viewpoint assumes that media other than the instructor's lecture and printed text will not serve as the primary vehicle of dispersing information or subject matter to learners (Hooper, 1969, p.246).  Alternatively, or in addition to the above, instruction may be rendered complete once the learners "...can hand back such information" to those who guide them (Bender & Boucher,1977, p.4).
However, only the second definition contemplates learning.  A fundamental objective of media in instruction is to improve learning (Tickton, 1970, p.9).  If learning, not technology in instruction, is the heart of educational growth and improvement then technology's capacity for improving this fundamental must be measured.  To accept this viewpoint is to equate learning with change (Kidd, 1973, p.15) in the learners and their behavior (Tyler, 1949, p.44), and hence in the mirroring of their worlds (Tiffin, Knight & Asher, 1946, p.448).  The "process or processes whereby such change is brought about" (Heinich, Molenda & Russell, 1982, p.9) must, therefore, be inferred from systematic recording (Wentling & Lawson, 1975).  The plurality of this latter feature requires multiple sources of evidence (Wentling & Lawson, 1975) with the understanding that many factors, both internal and external to the instructional intervention, affect or influence learning.  Some of these factors are predetermined " the nature and experience of the learner, but many of the factors are not fixed in any way; they can be modified and improved with planning and practice" concludes Kidd (1973, p.266) in his chapter on environmental factors in learning.
Here is an example of how one investigator's evaluative research study was implemented toward just such an effort. The chief elements directed toward the improvement of his learning or change effort, considered evaluating, (a) multicultural behavior change, (b) the learner, and (c) the instructional situation.   Hence, these three elements were included in the general design for the learning-media transaction, as shown in Figure 1 (Cap, 1995, p. 8). Read about it in the Design for Evaluating Multicultural Behavior Change article.
Author: Ihor Cap, Ph.D.

About the Author
About the Author: Ihor Cap is Training Development Coordinator with Apprenticeship Manitoba. He holds an Education Specialist degree and Ph.D. in Comprehensive Vocational Education from the Florida State University  and a Masters of Education in Instructional Technology from the University of Manitoba. Ihor is also a member of the Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences in Canada.
Anderson, C. (1962). Technology in American education 1650-1900. U.S. Department of health,  Education and Welfare, Office of Education, Principal Investigator: James D. Finn and  Associate Investigator: Lee E. Campion, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Bender, E. R., & Boucher, W. L. (1977).  Part A - The role of the teacher with students. In L.W. Dull (Ed.), Series #9 - Classroom climate for effective learning: The heart of instruction. Columbus, Ohio: Ohio Department of  Education - Division of Vocational Education.
Cap, Ihor. (1995). A study of the usefulness and effectiveness of a self-instructional print module on multicultural behaviour change in apprentices in Manitoba. A dissertation submitted to the Department of Educational  Leadership in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. The Florida State  University, College of Education, Tallahassee, Florida.
Heinich, R., Molenda, M., & Russell, D.J. (1982) Instructional media, and the new technologies of instruction. New York:  John Wiley & Sons. & Russell, 1982
Hooper, R. (1969). A diagnosis of failure. AV Communication Review, 17(3), 245-264.
Kidd, R. J. (1973) How adults learn. New York: The Adult Education Company.
Reiser, R. A. (1987). Instructional technology: A history. In R.M. Gagne (Ed.), Instructional technology:  Foundations (pp. 11-48). Hillsdale, N.J.: Erlbaum.
Saettler, Paul. (1968). A history of instructional technology. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company.
Tickton G. S. (Ed.). (1970). To improve learning: An evaluation of instructional technology. Part One, A Report by the Commission on Instructional Technology, Volume I, Edited by Sidney G. Tickton  with the Staff of the Academy for Educational Development. New York: R.R. Bowker  Company, New York.
Tiffin, J., Knight, B.F., & Asher, J.E. (1946). The psychology of normal people. Boston: D.C. Health and Company.
Tyler, W. R. (1949). Basic principles of curriculum and instruction. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Wentling, T. L., & Lawson, T. E. (1975). Evaluating occupational education and training programs. Boston. MA: Allyn and Bacon.

This article first appeared in  Feb 7, 2009 in