Learning Material Didactics 3

This is the third issue of Læremiddel.dk’s journal, Learning Material Didactics, where the authors disseminate results from the development project “Læremiddelformidling”. (All articles are in Danish)


By Jens Jørgen Hansen, UC SYD

Læremiddel.dk has chosen to launch a project on learning material dissemination in the cfu area (Center for Teaching Materials). The result of this 2-year project is presented here in this issue of Learning Material Didactics. The project involves CFUs (staff from Center for Teaching Materials) from the three university colleges: UC Sjælland, UC Lillebælt and UC Syddanmark. The purpose of the project is to investigate challenges and trends in the existing dissemination strategy of the CFUs as well as to experiment and develop new dissemination strategies and concepts for learning material dissemination in the CFU area.

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The accelerating landscape of learning materials

The starting point of the project is that in recent years, the CFUs (staff from Center for Teaching Materials) have had to redefine their role and task as mediators and supervisors. In the past, CFUs have built their legitimacy on giving users physical access to the coveted materials – the terms of the industrial society were that there was a shortage of books, films, etc. Furthermore, CFUs have had a special function in terms of storing, systematizing, distributing and guiding teachers, students and pupils in their choice and use of learning materials. As a facilitating institution, CFUs now face two particular challenges. The first is that the whole field of learning materials is under strong development. Learning materials are not only publisher-produced and also not only books. The traditional strong position of the textbook and free reading book is challenged by a host of other types of learning materials, which are often distributed through digital media. The internet stands as a common denominator for the break-up of the media possibilities, which include new storage functions, new distribution functions, new manufacturers and additionally, new access options for users. It challenges the function of the CFUs as a warehousing and distribution actor. With the internet, there are more and more flexible opportunities for teachers and students to access learning materials. Learning materials are no longer only physically stored, but lie as a permanent opportunity to be used (if the school has a subscription). Furthermore, the development of new types of learning materials increases the need for new ways of systematizing, validating and guiding. The challenge is to be able to characterize these new types of learning materials, to be able to develop new assessment criteria that take into account the nature of the learning materials, and also to develop a dissemination strategy in relation to these types of learning materials.

A sub-project in the project “Teaching materials dissemination” is therefore about how CFUs evaluate learning materials. Elsebeth Sørensen, Center for Teaching Materials in Slagelse, has carried out an empirical study of the assessment criteria that are circulating the CFUs in the article “Assessment criteria in connection with the choice of learning materials for the distribution collections at the CFUs”. She also discusses the role of assessment criteria in the CFUs’ dissemination tasks and how the work with assessment can strengthen the CFUs’ dissemination task.

Center for Learning Materials’ dissemination function

The other big challenge is the development of the CFUs’ communication and guidance function. The old library culture is based on a “know-about” dissemination – what is there? Today, this approach to learning materials is supplemented by a “know-how” communication – how to use it? This dissemination has a special focus on the use of learning materials in practice, and how learning materials can support teachers and students in their use of learning materials. Therefore, dialogue with users will also play a very important role. Today, consultants and librarians intervene and support teachers and students in relation to choice, guidance and use of learning materials in a specific practice, and this involves experiments with the development of new forms of dissemination and dissemnination spaces, e.g. info dissemination, spatial dissemination, course dissemination, guidance and Best-practice dissemination. These different forms of facilitation are explained in the article ” Learning material dissemination – an introduction”.

Three development projects

The project “learning material dissemination” is the framework for three development projects based on the practice of the CFUs involved. One project is described in the article “Dissemination of computer games in teaching” and was carried out by Birger Hoff, Center for Teaching Materials Roskilde, and Elsebeth Sørensen, Center for Teaching Materials Slagelse. The purpose of the project is to give teachers ideas and inspiration to include computer games in Danish teaching. The design potential of computer games – in the genre that can be called adventure games – is that they provide an opportunity to develop children’s narrative and aesthetic skills. The project will follow the play behavior and collaboration of some students, and prepare a specific teaching course for students in 4th grade. Furthermore, another goal is for students to learn to be critical and reflective of games and texts. The project also has a Danish background. The point is that computer games should be thought of as texts in the Danish subject matter, as examples of other forms of expression on an equal footing with visual art, film and literature. Like other media texts, computer games also have a potential for learning. The project experiments with and develops the form of communication that can be called course dissemination.

The second project is described in the article “Didactic communication design” by Carl Erik Christensen and Hildegunn Johannesen, Center for Teaching Materials, UC Syddanmark. The aim of the project is to develop an active framework for learning resources and exhibitions with the integration of new technologies and media landscapes. It is an innovative dissemination experiment that will disseminate learning resources in the physical and virtual space. The project develops and tests new physical communication zones in the CFUs’ exhibition area and will investigate the dissemination potential of these communication zones for the CFUs’ users. The project challenges and breaks down the barriers for a traditional informative dissemination strategy by also involving a more interactive level in the dissemination. Thus, the project experiments with information dissemination and spatial dissemination as forms of dissemination. Furthermore, the project has developed a dynamic model for planning the CFUs’ exhibition and dissemination activities. This model is presented in the article “Didactic communication design – dynamic template”.

The third project is presented in the article “IT without leg braces” by Niels Lyhne-Hansen, Center for Teaching Materials in Vejle. The project, which has been carried out in collaboration with Steen Aamand Olesen, Center for Teaching Materials Vejle, will develop an effective dissemination strategy when new learning materials and teaching methods are coming to life and becoming part of the school’s reality. The project is experimenting with and developing new course concepts. The starting point for a course is the teachers’ specific goals with a teaching course, for which the course is designed. The course itself becomes a kind of Best-practice course, which goes through the different phases of the current teaching course. Additionally, specific students also participate in the course to subsequently act as “assistant teachers” in the course. Thus, the project is experimenting with new forms of practice-based course communication. The article also thematizes the dissemination of learning materials in an organizational development perspective. It describes how CFUs can enter into networks and facilitate knowledge sharing with the municipalities ‘school library and IT consultants and the schools’ learning centers, and which dissemination strategies the CFUs can adopt in this collaboration.

Jens Jørgen Hansen, June 2010