Full text: Schulbuchforschung in Europa - Bestandsaufnahme und Zukunftsperspektive

The product aims to establish a digital learning environment focusing on the devel- 
opment of historical skills among pupils in secondary education. The main idea behind it 
was to formulate a concrete answer to two main challenges that face history teachers in 
Flanders today. It is taken for granted that they teach historical skills on the one hand 
while making use of ICT during their lessons on the other. We share the growing convic- 
tion that historical understanding can only be developed when students become familiar 
with the research methods of the historical discipline and the constructive nature of his- 
torical knowledge. Beginning with the assumption that hypertext and hypermedia could 
stimulate this critical attitude we consulted with several schools to test the strengths and 
weaknesses of the multimedia cd-rom that the Maerlant Centre had developed for pupils 
aged fifteen. How well were they able to investigate the historical sources and secondary 
information available to them in large quantities and in a layered and personalized man- 
In secondary education a communication metaphor in which the transfer of information 
occupies the centre stage often seems to be predominant, for example „in school children 
are taught more about numbers and grammar than about thinking“.’ The way in which 
knowledge can be generated, the relationship between scientific knowledge and every- 
day life and the doubts and uncertainties connected with research, are dimensions schol- 
ars are rarely confronted with. Rather than to pass on established factual contents, educa- 
tion should be aimed at providing tools and creating an environment for „helping learn- 
ers interpret the multiple perspectives of the world in creating their own world view.”* 
The discussion character of our knowledge about the past should be a point of par- 
ticular interest in history education. In the search for causes and explanations of histori- 
cal processes, it is the individual historian who determines the viewpoint. Moreover, the 
knowledge of the past is limited because of lack of evidence and the inadequacy of the 
traces the past has left behind‘. The document Historical Formation. Design of vision 
which formed the starting point of national standards for history education in Flanders is 
based on these constructivist ideas.‘ 
The same document helped set the basic principle of the Maerlant-cd-rom. This digi- 
tal learning environment should help pupils to read, analyse, investigate and interpret 
historical sources and to structure historical information within its frame of reference. 
The chaotic supply of facts from the past should be arranged into a well-structured unity. 
In this frame of reference two levels of inforrnation can be distinguished: descriptive 
information (knowledge of and insight into historical reality) and procedural information 
PAPERT, S., „A word for learning“, in Kafai, Y. and Resnick, M. (ed.), Constructionism in practice. 
Designing, thinking and leaming in a digital world, Mahwah-New Jersey, 1996, S. 11. 
JONASSEN, D.H., „Objectivism versus eonstructivism: do we need a new philosophical paradigm”“, in 
Educational Technology, Research and Development, 39, 1991/ 3,8. 5-14. E 
LORENZ, C., De constructie van het verleden, Amsterdam, 1998, S. 37. 
DE KEYSER, R. and VANDEPITTE, P. (ed.), Historical Jormation. Design of vision, Brussels, 1998, S. 6 


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