Welcome to the first issue of the new journal LEARNING TECH – Journal of learning materials, didactics and technology, which is the successor to Læremiddel.dk’s previous journal Learning Material Didactics. LEARNING TECH is a research journal, and all articles have therefore undergone peer-review. The journal will bring articles within the subject matter, which is the meeting between learning materials, didactics and technology. LEARNING TECH will publish twice a year with articles in Danish, Swedish, Norwegian or English. It will be published in an online version and in a limited print version.
A research-based journal with a focus on learning materials, didactics and technology could be of great importance as a platform for the growing Scandinavian learning material research.Read full preface
The first issue contains a status and a perspective on learning material research in Scandinavia, but with a special focus on Denmark and Norway. The aim of the issue is to create a starting point for understanding what and who has shaped the research efforts in the field of learning materials in Scandinavia and then create an overview that unfolds a perspective in the triad between learning materials, technology and didactics in relation to how that triad can be thought of combined with teaching and learning and with what quality and what outcome?
The various articles constitute reflections which mark that the journal’s first issue addresses the learning material research, as it has established itself in a Norwegian text-based research especially, in reference to the learning material texts and learning materials in use, and in a Danish learning material research established around analysis, assessment and use of learning materials as well as building a professional language about learning material/multimodality.
In Denmark, the creation of the National Research Center for Learning materials (Læremiddel.dk) has been instrumental for the establishment of a research-based professional language of learning materials, including categorizations of learning material types, multimodality theory based on professional, general didactic, and social semiotics theory. The work with definitions and a desire to characterize technology as means specifically designed for learning has laid out a research position that researches the significance of the learning material for how teaching can be planned and learning organized.
The Norwegian effort has especially focused on the fact that all texts, at a certain level, were pedagogical texts, and that these texts position students, teachers and last but not least, the particularly vulnerable e.g. disabled, students from linguistic minorities, and others. Theoretically, it’s been about reading comprehension, use of learning materials and text analysis with a theoretical starting point in text linguistic and text analytical positions.
In these contexts, technology and didactics played a crucial role for understanding learning material concepts to work with learning materials in use and to develop theory about learning materials and learning material usage. This first issue contains articles from prominent learning material and technology researchers.
THE ARTICLES IN LEARNING TECH NO. 1
Thomas Illum Hansen initiates this number with the article “Learning materials and learning material research in Denmark – before and after the joint national digitalization strategy (2011)” in which he explains how learning materials have been defined in Denmark over the last 30 years and what has characterized the learning material landscape Denmark in the period. The author then sheds light on what research has been done since 1985 in the choice and use of learning materials in Denmark. The article shows that in Denmark, there has not been the same tradition of research into learning materials as is known from Norway and Sweden, but a focus on learning materials has really been established in the previous 10 years in the form of particular research environments.
Øystein Gilje shows in his article “Learning materials and learning material research in Norway – before and after Kunnskapsløftet (06)”, how learning materials research in Norway has developed and how learning materials have been understood especially, with a focus on choice and usage of learning materials in schools. The article also shows how students, teachers and leaders’ choice of learning materials takes place. Finally, Gilje also focuses on the relationship between paper-based, analogue learning materials and digital learning materials.
With his article “The digital text in the Norwegian mother tongue subject – Learning materials and learning objectives”, Håvard Skaar shows that research into digital texts in the mother tongue in Norway is governed by education policy based on a premise that digital texts should be integrated into teaching, thereby assuming that working with digital texts in itself strengthens students’ learning. This, the author argues, necessitates that the research raises critical questions for – and examines further – whether and in what ways the digital text can be said to possess special learning-promoting properties. The author particularly problematizes the fact that in Norway after 2006 (Kunnskapsløftet), no distinction is made between digital texts as learning materials and as learning goals; it is both a special text that the students have to learn something about and a learning material that makes it easier to fulfill didactic objectives. Skaar shows in this way that the digital text is assigned a positive self-weight in relation to the students’ acquisition of special knowledge.
In the article “The school’s new literacy – How do the school’s text practices change when digital technology is available in the classroom?”, Marte Bilkstad-Balas discusses the didactic consequences of the technology-rich environments in both home and school that exist in Norway. She points out that this has led to changes in the school’s traditional literacy. The article traces the concept of literacy in school back in time and shows how the digital classroom, that she conceptualizes, develops a new literacy in school when students are engaged in multiple text practices. One of the conclusions of the article is that these textual practices are less rooted in the school as an institution than has been the case previously. The article points to the advantages and disadvantages of a more individualized and less institution-rooted text practice in school.
In Cathrine Hasse’s article “Technology understanding in a cultural perspective”, the concept of literacy is also up for discussion, more specifically technological literacy. In the article, the author examines different views on technology and technology understanding and shows, with the help of a model developed in the Technucation project, how and in what ways technology understandings play out in an everyday perspective. Based on this everyday perspective, the author suggests moving away from an understanding of technological literacy, as it is understood in technical sciences, towards a more situated and relational understanding of technology, a cultural understanding of technology that, the author points out, is essential for understanding what happens in school, but also a technology understanding that has not yet found its final design.
The research has moved us from a discussion of book or web towards a more precise understanding of the relationship between different types of learning materials and didactic designs. Instead of asking about the potentials and limitations of the media and technologies themselves (inherent affordances), and e.g. how IT or textbook systems work in isolation, potentials and limitations are perceived relationally (interactional affordances) as part of a larger context that can be explored by combining different qualitative and quantitative methods.From Learning Materials and Learning Material Research in Denmark