By Stig Toke Gissel
The digital learning platforms hit some schools with fire and fury – others with a light, fresh breeze. As part of the user portal initiative, it was a requirement that all municipalities before the end of 2017 should acquire a digital learning platform for public primary and lower secondary schools. The purpose was that the platforms should support the students’ learning process and the teachers’ work. The development of learning platforms was outsourced to the private market, and a number of players developed offers for learning platforms, based on the announced requirements specifications.Læs hele forordet
The debate and criticism of the learning platforms was fierce: they were tied to specific didactic approaches, namely learning goal management and training / dissemination, it was time consuming to use them, they were not a help to the teachers – rather an administrative burden, which may have had a purpose to monitor the work of teachers rather than to support didactic work, etc., etc. Other teachers adopted the platforms and used them in their daily practice.
In this issue of Learning Tech, we present 11 articles written by a number of researchers in connection with the research and development project Use of digital learning platforms and learning materials. The project was carried out for the Danish Agency for IT and Learning as a collaboration between Aalborg University, the Alexandra Institute, SDU, UC South, UC Zealand, and UC Lillebælt.
The articles in the thematic issue are organized so that the most general articles come first, followed by articles that more specifically examine the professional applications of learning platforms.
The first article of the issue presents the results of a review of international research literature on digital learning platforms. The review processes research from 21 studies and summarizes the results in three categories: Implementation of learning platforms, competence development needs in connection with the platforms, and the relationship between students’ use of platforms and their academic benefits.
Under the heading “Learning platform didactics”, the next contribution of the issue presents a suggestion of which didactic categories that are relevant to include in a description of the knowledge a teacher must have in order to be able to carry out his practice through the learning platform. The article is thus a theoretical, didactic attempt to deal with the demands and challenges that the learning platforms face teachers.
Will users adopt a new technology, such as learning platforms, or reject it? As part of the project Use of digital learning platforms and teaching aids, a user-involving model was tested to support the implementation of the learning platform at the participating schools. The two authors of the theme issue’s next article have worked on this and present, on the basis of analyses of two cases from the project, a “A double loop learning model for user-involving implementation of learning platforms”.
The article “Implementation of learning platforms and cultural logics” is, as the title suggests, also about implementation, but this article focuses on how different actors relate to the learning platforms, and how relationships between actors’ attitudes affect the conditions for implementing learning platforms in schools .
How is it possible to establish local ownership, to strengthen the professional and pedagogical actions, and to develop new learning cultures framed and supported by the learning platforms? This is the topic of the article “User involvement in the use and integration of learning platforms”, where the approach to future workshops is proposed as a means of creating commitment and ownership among teachers when they are to use a new technology.
The article “Teacher work transformations, digital learning platforms, and teachers ‘professional core competencies” examines how the external demands on teachers and the school, in this case the demand to use the learning platforms, give rise to decisions, initiatives, and attributions – and ultimately lead to teachers’ transformation of their practice.
What do the teachers’ course plans look like when they are made in a learning platform? In the article “Teachers’ course plans in Meebook: What does the platform offer, and what do the teachers do?” the authors have analyzed the 102, at the time of the study, most shared course plans on the learning platform Meebook with a focus on what kind of learning materials the teachers include in their shared courses, what acquisition actions the course planss offer and what modalities dominate the course plans.
The following article, “The Danish subject in play on learning platforms. Subject didactic analysis of Danish subject teaching courses ”, zooms in on the Danish subject, as it is expressed in Danish subject courses on the learning platform Meebook. The authors examine the form, function, and content of the courses, and which of four Danish didactic discourses are actualized in the individual courses.
In the article “Planning with platforms”, the authors zoom in on to two teachers’ planning and teaching practices in relation to the learning platform. The empirical basis is two interviews with Danish teachers, which are analyzed on the basis of theory of professional capital and theory of collaboration.
Using exploratory STEM teaching as an example and based on instrumental genesis and principles for exploratory teaching, the article “Exploratory STEM teaching with learning platforms – general didactic infrastructure for didactic work” shows that the design of the learning platform does not necessarily dictate the didactic approach to teaching, but that the didactic choices in the platform can be adapted to didactic principles, interact with other technologies, and contribute to potentially motivating teaching. One point, however, is that it requires a strong pedagogical set of values and creativity in order for the teacher not to be controlled by the platform’s framework.
In the article “Digitally duplicated teachers”, a case example from the practical-music subjects is the starting point for reflections on how the digital learning platform can be used to solve specific subject didactic challenges and enables a potential expansion of the teacher’s didactic space for action.
Hopefully, the articles can contribute to understanding the potentials and challenges of the learning platforms themselves, but also in relation to implementation and commissioning in practice.
Enjoy your reading,
Stig Toke Gissel
Editor-in-chief of Learning Tech