Based on the article by Lockee et al. (2001), it is clear that the media comparison studies tend to have fatal flaws that do taint distance learning strategy. It is necessary that we should move past the various comparison studies that tend to see if e-learning is as effective as the in-person experience and seek to design and also evaluate approaches to professional development that do maximize the chance of learning in an engaging, effective, and efficient manner. The media comparison studies tend to consider delivery medium as the treatment variable and student achievement or learning as being the dependent variable. The approach that the media comparison studies use in this case tends to be inappropriate. When using such a design, the researchers fail to consider the many variables that usually work together towards creating an effective instructional experience for the learners. The variables include the learner characteristics, instructional strategy choices, media attributes, and the psychological theories.
One aspect that is of great significance in regards to distance education research is that media comparison studies fail to consider the learner characteristics. In the media comparison studies, the researchers tend to view the students as being homogenous units rather than as individuals who have unique characteristics and learning needs. In this case, whether an instructional design results in either harmful or helpful cognitive load, it depends on the strategies of information utilization by the learner. The learner characteristics are factors that can influence the strategy selection. Learners usually bring with them different qualities and experiences. Putting all learners together during a research tend to ignore the important traits that can affect learning (Lockee et al. 2001). For instance, in learning, the online students need to feel comfortable in the learning environment, which places emphasis on the individual taking the responsibility of their learning process. Therefore, when conducting research regarding distance learners, it is significant that the media comparison researchers should consider the learners characteristics and how they create an effective instructional experience for the learners. The learner characteristic is an essential trait that tends to affect the learning of a student.
Another flaw with relation to the media comparison studies is with regards to the theoretical foundation. I consider this as being an essential area of focus when evaluating media comparison studies because any research that focuses on the process of learning need to frame its exploration around the psychological theories underpinning the process. With the media comparison studies, there tend to be a lack of linkage to the theoretical foundations. The media comparison studies do not usually test any theoretical foundation as they just evaluate an instructional delivery technology against another (Lockee et al. 2001). The lack of a strong theoretical foundation means that the sounds used in the instructional software will not only fail to enhance learning but also detract from it. A strong theoretical foundation, when used in media comparison studies, can help address the information processing theory because it supplies the model for understanding how the learners process the instructional message. The inquiries that do not consider the integration of a theory tend not to be a valid research. Therefore, the lack of a strong theoretical foundation in the case of media comparison studies is a significant flaw displayed by researchers in this area of study.
Lockee, B., Moore, M., & Burton, J. (2001). Old concerns with new distance education research. Educause Quarterly, 24(2), 60-62.