POTENTIALS FOR LEARNING IN THE DESIGN OF DIGITAL TEXTBOOKS
Sammanfattning: Purpose: The aim of this study was to enhance the knowledge of the learning potentials associated with the different designs of digital textbooks and their implications for the representation of historical content. More specifically, the analysis focused on four Finnish digital history textbooks, with the Winter War being selected as the specific learning unit due to its significant role in the history of Finland. Theory: The study employed a multimodal social semiotic theory, that focuses on communication, where meaning is made through multiple modes of communication, such as image and writing. For the analysis, this perspective entailed understanding that texts-as-signs were understood as potentials for learning (Bezemer & Kress, 2008) that designers shape to best communicate and represent the meaning of the subject content. The descriptive framework of Visual Grammar proposed by Kress and van Leeuwen (2006) presented three concepts – compositional, interactive, and representational meanings – that served as analytical tools to investigate the overall designs of the digital textbooks. Method: The different designs of the four digital textbooks were analysed using textual analysis as the chosen method. Approaching the text from a multimodal perspective allowed for acknowledging the importance of all present modes participating in the making of meaning. Results: Different design decisions were found to have varying impact on the potentials for learning and the representations of historical content. For example, the consistent use of colour in the layouts was found to support the process of finding interactive features. Another example was that diverse choices in the structure of the books were shown to give more value to certain modes of communication, thereby highlighting specific aspects of the war. The findings of this study suggest that design choices should not be understood as isolated choices but rather as part of an integrated design where all the modes play a role.
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