The Medium, the Content, and the Performance: An Overview on Media-Based Learning

The Medium, the Content, and the Performance: An Overview on Media-Based Learning

Hans W. Giessen (Saarland University, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0466-5.ch003


This chapter focuses on aspects of the technological and interface dimensions of Badrul Khan's model, arguing that a correlation exists between the medium of instruction, students' performance, and the instructional content. Media-based learning is not necessarily more effective, simply because it uses a medium. Several variables exist that influence its success: the medium itself, its properties, production and consumption restraints; the content, and the way it can be presented in the context of a specific medium, and learners' cognitive styles. All these variables and more have to be taken into consideration, alone and interacting, in order to decide whether and where media-based learning is to be used, and where it might be counterproductive.
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Does Media-Based Learning Make Sense?

In the early stages of media-based learning, Clark (1983), implied in a frequently mentioned article, that the instructional media probably does not have a decisive influence on the learning process.


The Impact Of Time On Task

Which other variables could play a role in this context? Wallace and Mutooni had already pointed out in 1997 that users of computer-based programs indicated, in contrast to the participants in classroom-based events, the tendency to adhere to individual learning topics until a high level of content understanding had been reached. They also had a more flexible approach to learning than their fellow students, and spread this process throughout the day. It became apparent that media-based learning requires more time than traditional learning. Learners, who were not able, or did not want to devote sufficient time to computer based learning, did not benefit from media-based instruction. The opposite was the case for those who chose to invest the necessary time.

On the contrary, Pitman, Gosper, and Rich (1999) analyzed the grades and the learning behavior of 348 students. Here it became clear that the students with higher grades had more frequently and regularly requested and used the computer-based additional options than the students with lower grades. Schulman and Sims (1999) confirmed this assumption – they also noticed that the better learners preferred to learn using media-based resources and used this alternative more often, while the less successful learners normally chose traditional forms of learning.

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