Historical Thinking with Digital Media: A comparative study of mBook use

Digital textbooks are frequently regarded as ‘nothing more than digitised PDFs’ or are said to be ‘lacking in innovation’ in terms of digital learning and teaching. These views reflect the ambitions of education policy makers and practitioners to better harness the potential of digital educational media. There are currently very few research projects in Germany evaluating how digital textbooks are used. Available studies frequently have three aspects in common: 1) they generally investigate science books; 2) the research tends to focus on capturing learning success as a measurable outcome and 3) the studies tend to work with (quasi) experimental designs. Almost no extant research examines the effectiveness of digital teaching materials from a cultural and social-science perspective while also taking into account the process of achieving learning success and combining this with the qualitative and quantitative assessment processes used in schools.

This project explores how the ‘mBook History’ is used in everyday school practice. It investigates the potential of digital textbooks to foster historical reasoning and digital competences in comparison to printed textbooks.

Aims and Research Questions

The aim of this research is firstly to contribute to research into digital educational media in the school context. The project explores the research question: Which historical or digital competencies are stimulated through the use of digital or analogue history books respectively? But the study also applies a hands-on approach that meets the users in their specific situations, accompanies them in their use and extrapolates the implications for future production of digital textbooks. This research project therefore provides answers for educational practitioners to the question of which tools used in the mBook stimulate historical and digital competencies and lead to learning success.