Learning Tech 12 (English introduction)

The theme and title of this issue of Learning Tech is The teacher and the learning materials


By Bettina Buch, Stig Toke Gissel and Thomas R.S. Albrechtsen

The theme of this issue of Learning Tech is: the teacher and the learning materials. With this heading, we point to a very fundamental relationship in teachers’ professional work. The traditional didactic triangle illustrates the unity of teaching in the form of the relationships between teacher, student and content. However, teaching is much more than this, and the teaching aids in particular also have a central place in both the planning, implementation, evaluation and development of teaching. Recently, important studies have been published on the use of teaching aids in teaching, not least in this journal, as well as studies that examine teaching aids such as artefacts and texts. There is both a relationship and interaction between the teacher and the teaching material, such that the teacher does something to the teaching materials, but the teaching materials also do something to the teacher.

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Manufacturers of teaching aids have special expectations and intentions regarding how the developed teaching aid is used in teaching. However, it is not always that it is used as expected. The teacher does something with the teaching aid, such as adapting and “translating” it to a special teaching context and student group, and can make selections and de-selections in the material. In some cases, the teaching aids are accompanied by a teacher’s guide, which can have different functions, depth and quality. The teacher’s guides can simply take the form of manuals or user guides that can help the teacher to orientate themselves in the “correct use” of the teaching aid in question.

Other times, the teacher’s guide has a broader aim, such as giving the teacher new insights into an area and pointing out some didactic considerations linked to the material. The teaching aid itself has some possibilities and limitations built into it, but a teacher’s guide can help to expand the teacher’s options and thus aim more directly at influencing the teacher. Whether the teaching aids include teacher guides or not, they will do something to the teacher’s teaching, but at the same time the teacher will use the teaching aid in different ways, interpret it in certain ways and use re-editing strategies so that it is better in line with what the teacher wants his teaching. The articles in this issue illuminate precisely these issues about the interaction that occurs between teacher and learning material.

The article A systematic review of research on teachers’ guides, by Bettina Buch, Stig Toke Gissel, Marianne Oksbjerg, Karna Kjeldsen and Thomas R.S. Albrechtsen, provides an overview of international research into teacher guides. The systematic review shows, among other things, that although teacher guides have existed for a long time as a phenomenon, the amount of research that has been done on it is still quite limited. The article shows how teacher guides have been examined from different perspectives, and one finding is that internationally there seems to be an increased interest in how teacher guides can be designed so that they can support teachers’ professional development to a greater extent, which, among other things, goes under the heading “educational curriculum materials”.

The second article in this issue is entitled The teacher guidance landscape in Denmark, and is written by Stig Toke Gissel, Bettina Buch, Marianne Oksbjerg, Karna Kjeldsen and Maren Lytje. The article also deals with the theme of teacher’s guides for didactic learning materials, but zooms in on a Danish context and goes in depth with selected teaching aids from the three subjects Danish, history and Christian studies. The article also presents a model with which to analyze teacher guides. Based on the analyses, the article discusses the implications this may have for both manufacturers of learning materials, teachers and lecturers in teacher education.

In the article The teacher’s reeducation strategies, written by Marianne Oksbjerg, examines how teachers understand their own reeducation strategies in relation to didactic lessons in primary school Danish subjects and with a particular focus on literature teaching. The article is based on an empirical study using both teacher interviews and classroom observations and provides insight into how teachers think about their use of didactic learning materials.

In the fourth and final article, entitled Learning materials in the practical-musical subject food science, Ditte Jacqueline Rasmussen examines the question of which parameters are used in the selection of learning materials with a special focus on the subject food science in primary schools. The selection of learning materials is discussed in relation to the competencies that are at stake here. One of the conclusions in the article is that the teacher’s competence in being able to redact teaching materials is important in order to be able to adapt it to a specific student group and their learning requirements.

The first two articles thus focus on the importance of teacher’s guides that sometimes come with the didactic teaching aids, and the last two articles show examples of the importance of teachers’ re-editing of the learning materials. All the articles thus provide insight into what dynamic relationship there can be between teacher and learning material.

Happy reading!

Theme editorial