Learning Material Didactics 1

Here you will find the first issue of the journal Læremiddeldidaktik from October 2008. You can download and read the entire issue (Danish), or you can immerse yourself in the individual articles depending on your interest.


By Thomas Illum Hansen, University College Lillebælt

It is a pleasure to present this first issue of Læremiddel.dk’s new e-journal Learningdidactics. We have in fact modestly given ourselves the floor in this first issue, but at the same time hope that others will also find pleasure and immersion in our presentation of the knowledge center’s projects about and perspectives on teaching aids. In addition, we have invited a single subject editor from Gyldendal Uddannelse as a contributor: Henrik Juul, who has been closely associated with the center from its inception.

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The name of the journal quite clearly highlights the purpose of both the journal and the knowledge center. In fact, Læremiddel.dk can be read as an abbreviation of the concept of teaching aid didactics, and it is not accidental. The purpose of the knowledge center is to develop new theory and knowledge about the significance of teaching aids for learning and teaching and a theoretical framework for teaching aids – a “teaching aids didactics”. For this purpose, we need a journal that can serve as a body for theory development and presentation of projects and project results in the knowledge center.

In the past, teaching aids have been treated theoretically in the journal Gymnasium Pedagogy, but there is a lack of a journal that has teaching aids as its primary subject area. Not least in view of the increased focus on teaching aids, which i.a. has been expressed in the formation of two new centers. In 2004, we got a research center at the University of Southern Denmark, DREAM, which especially examines the role of digital media and teaching aids in the general upper secondary school. And in 2007, with Læremiddel.dk, a development environment was established with a focus on teaching aids in primary and lower secondary schools and in vocational education. In addition, one can observe an increased interest in teaching aids at the Danish University School of Education, which is centered around the research program “IT and media in a learning perspective”. The same development characterizes our Scandinavian neighbors, which have strong traditions in research into teaching aids. In this connection, two key research environments should be mentioned, with which we collaborate: Center for pedagogical texts and learning processes at Vestfold University College and DidaktikDesign at Stockholm University.

Together, the mentioned initiatives and environments testify to a community of interest and a growing area of ​​knowledge. Therefore, we invite the various research and development environments to contribute and discuss in connection with the development of a teaching aid didactics – regardless of whether this takes place within the framework of or in opposition to the notion of a teaching aids didactics. When we organize our activities around a teaching aid didactics, it is because we put funds and materials at the center of a study that takes both a learning and a teaching perspective. We have sharpened this point graphically with our logo for Læremiddel.dk and Læremiddeldidaktik, respectively. Thus, there is a particular reason why we split the names up into meaning elements. The intention is not just to make the reader clap syllables – doctrinal didactics – while reading, but to highlight the constitutive elements of a doctrine didactics. The first part emphasizes the learning perspective. The second part is that the remedy is at the center, because it is an intentional material. And thirdly, that the work with teaching aids has a didactic aim. With this first issue of the magazine, we get around all three joints. At the same time, the articles are distributed so that we also get around the three primary actors and perspectives that are important for the knowledge center’s approach to teaching aids: the publishing industry’s commercial producer perspective, the vocational colleges’ didactic assessment perspective and the primary school’s practice-oriented application perspective. The three perspectives together form an actor triangle, where one can imagine the teaching aid didactics as an intermediate field that would like to make it possible to combine the perspectives in a general theory of analysis and assessment of teaching aids and teaching aid cultures.

Presentation of the articles

Based on the actor triangle, Læremiddel.dk has launched its first pilot projects. The perspectives are closely linked, but the projects are nonetheless anchored in one of the corners. Therefore, Læremiddel.dk is built up of three project tracks – a production track, an assessment track and an application track – corresponding to the actor triangle’s three perspectives. The same three parts characterize the articles in this journal, with the first article as an exception: “Learning materials didactics – does it exist?”. With this article, the undersigned tries to outline the theoretical framework of the knowledge center’s activities with a draft of a general learning material didactics. The article is thus intended as a program article that formulates a framework for how to fruitfully combine different approaches to teaching aids. The key questions that are sought to be answered are: What is a teaching aid? What is teaching aid didactics? And how can we help develop a teaching aid didactics? The article’s preliminary answers are given based on the discussions we have had in Læremiddel.dk in connection with the establishment of the center.

In continuation of the program article, four articles are presented that present projects and perspectives on teaching aids within one of the knowledge center’s three project tracks. First, it is Karsten Gynther who presents Læremiddel.dk’s largest project within the application track: “Læremiddelkultur 2,0”. As the title of the project suggests, the focal point of the project is the use of web 2.0 in primary school, ie. the use of the many free, internet-based and often user-generated materials that have become increasingly available through the web. User-driven development has revolutionized the Internet. That is why today we talk about this use as a form of second generation of the internet, a web 2.0. The question is to what extent web 2.0 requires a new generation of information skills and didactic approaches in teaching. The project tries to answer this question in a two-part process by partly examining whether web 2.0 gives rise to a teaching aid culture 2.0 in the school, and partly by developing a didactics 2.0 that can equip new generations of teachers.

Jens Jørgen Hansen follows up with a more general article, “Teaching aids assessment in school – four evaluation models”, which presents a number of models that are of particular importance for two large projects within the assessment track: “LÆRGE” and “Læremiddelformidling”. “LÆRGE” is an abbreviation for a theoretical project that focuses on teaching aid genres, whereas project “Læremiddelformidling” is a more practice-oriented project that investigates and develops dissemination strategies for the Center for Teaching Aids and school libraries. Jens Jørgen Hansen’s presentation of four evaluation models links communication and evaluation in a distinguished way, as he demonstrates how the assessment changes with function and perspective. Thus, there is a difference between assessing as a teacher from an academic perspective, as a school librarian from a guidance perspective or as a school leader from an organizational perspective. The perspective also varies, depending on whether you plan teaching, procurement or development of school culture in the future, or whether you evaluate the same variables in the future. By combining different functions and perspectives, Jens Jørgen Hansen thus draws an overview map of possible ways of assessing.

In continuation of this, the undersigned presents Læremiddel.dk’s largest project to date, “Teaching aids on teaching aids”, which is about the assessment of teaching aids in teacher education. The aim of the project is to strengthen teachers ‘and teacher students’ analytical awareness of teaching aids. This will be done by developing teaching aids for teacher education that focus on analysis, assessment and use of teaching aids in primary and lower secondary schools. Projects laid out broadly so that it covers the school’s six major subjects and subject blocks: Danish, mathematics, language subjects, natural sciences, cultural subjects and aesthetics subjects (the practical / musical subjects). Therefore, it consists of six subject didactic sub-projects and one general didactic, which deals with the other analytical levels of the other sub-projects: a) curriculum analysis as a basis for a qualified assessment of teaching aids; b) teaching aid analysis within the six major subjects and subject blocks; c) practice analysis of selected examples of the use of teaching aids. The article describes the relationship between the analytical levels in more detail, and the project’s further perspective is unfolded. The aim is that teaching aids about teaching aids should support the development of a more practice-oriented teacher education, where analysis, assessment and use of teaching aids play a central role.

As a conclusion to this first issue of Læremiddeldidaktik, we have given the floor to publishing editor Henrik Juul from Gyldendal Uddannelse. In this context, his contribution, “Teaching aids from macro to micro level”, represents a production perspective – although he clearly has a broader perspective on teaching aids. Thus, he presents a general didactic model for analysis and assessment of teaching aids that can be used from a production perspective, but which is also interesting from both an assessment and a practice perspective. The basis for Henrik Juul’s model is partly Ulf P. Lundgren’s curriculum theory and partly Basil Bernstein’s discourse theory. Based on this, he develops a model that is both manageable and complex. The aim is to analyze teaching aids as a pedagogical discourse – ie. a concrete combination of basic professional and pedagogical knowledge – based on a professional communication triangle (the relationship between basic professional knowledge, curriculum and production) and a pedagogical acquisition triangle (the relationship between pedagogical knowledge, methodology and tasks), respectively. Together, the two triangles draw a star, which is visualized in the article; a manageable model that can be used in connection with production, but it can just as well form the basis for an analysis of teaching aids for the purpose of assessment and use of teaching aids.

Henrik Juul’s article testifies to the fruitfulness of bringing more perspectives on teaching aids into play, even though there is a difference in the actors’ logic and perspectives. Læremiddel.dk’s actor triangle also emphasizes the difference between the publishing industry’s producer perspective (what sells?), The vocational colleges’ didactic perspective (what is good?) And the primary school’s practice perspective (what works?), But it also binds the perspectives together in a model that hopefully can help to strengthen the collaboration and qualify future production, assessment and use of teaching aids.With this first issue of Teaching Aid Didactics, we have come around all corners of the triangle, and we hope that our readers will follow us around the many corners and nooks and crannies of teaching aids didactics.

Enjoy your reading

Thomas Illum Hansen