Digital Learning Aids for Nynorsk Pupils in School: - A Politically Sensitive Area or a Question of a Deeper Scientific Understanding of Learning?
Keywords:Nynorsk, digital learning aids, the Nynorsk effect, digital divide, ICT
This position paper focuses on Nynorsk in the digital era and the need for research-based knowledge about it in school settings in Norway. The Norwegian language situation is exceptional because Norway has two written standards, Bokmål (majority variety) and Nynorsk (minority variety), and both the Education Act and the Norwegian Directorate of Education require that publishers provide parallel editions of all paper-based and digital learning aids for pupils. However, a national report by Skjær,Eiksund, Fretland, Holen & Netteland(2008) revealed that few publishers have developed and offered digital learning aids in Nynorsk. In 2015 the situation appears to be largely unchanged, even though the authorities, language organisations and “leadings lights” have taken several initiatives to encourage compliance with the Education Act; however, what is needed is further research into the situation of parallel editions of digital learning aids. This is of particular interest today since the pupils in the county with the highest rate (97%) of Nynorsk-pupils has consistently been at the top of the list as one of the best performing counties in Norway in national tests since 2006 (Directorate of Education 2015). In addition, Vangsnes, Söderlund & Blekesaune (2015) find that municipalities in Norway with more than 50% Nynorsk-pupils achieve better in National tests when compared to Bokmål municipalities. The main message in our position paper is that the digital revolution might have changed some underlying premises for how we understand and use language and dialects, and the need for parallel editions of digital learning aids in Bokmål and Nynorsk is no longer a question of economics or of political statements for or against Nynorsk, etc., but is instead a question of a more nuanced scientific understanding of learning and achievement in today’s digitized school. The achievements of Nynorsk pupils in national tests is one indicator of school performance, but to understand what causes this relationship further research is required and several indicators should be developed. In this case, it concerns Nynorsk pupils, but in a broader sense, it concerns pupils in general, and how they learn in school.
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