Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community
What appears to be an irresponsible study showing that multimedia detracts from literacy education is gaining traction in Australian media (I say 'appears' because the study is behind a subscription wall, and therefore blocked from public scrutiny). In the study, children viewing and manipulating partially irrelevant graphics while listening to and reading a story performed less well than students not using the graphics. Of course, children trying to read while someone banging a drum in their ears would also perform less well, but nobody considers that to be an argument against music education. Still, this does not deter study author David Buckingham, who argues that "an interactive story book may provide their children with more entertainment than education," and in the context of another study, urges, "Policy makers should refrain from any further investment in ICT and literacy until at least one rigorously designed trial has shown it to be effective in increasing literacy outcomes." Perhaps the best comment is from the generally useful Slashdot discussion: "We've got to sell papers by scaring you, and this is going to get your attention for the thirty seconds we've conditioned you to spend on a newspaper article that can't possibly do justice to the topic at hand."

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada
stephen@downes.ca

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Copyright 2021
Last Updated: Mar 30, 2021 12:22 a.m.