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H809: Activity 9.3 and 9.4: Comparisons

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Activity 9.3: Comparing Reading 10 with Readings 8 and 9 (2 hours)


Tolmie 2001

Crook & Dymott 2005

Greenhow  & Belbas 2007

Key features of the theory

1. Outcomes effected by interplay between technology and context so this effects research

2. difficult to manage context effects through design; need to focus on whole implementation event

3. Context -sensitive approach to evaluation required p.236

4. Socio-cognitive conflict is part of  context p.236

5. Context effects will be the norm  p.237

6. data should be collected from real contexts p.237

7. context primes learner to notice certain aspects p.240

Learning is mediated, situated and distributed

Use of the 5 types of writing as a cognitive framework to allow analysis of the practices involved.

Fundamental unit of study is the activity.

All activities are guided by a motive which is held by the subject - human consciousness.

Activities can be complex with differing actions towards goals whose outcomes are not identical to the object.

Centrality of tools or artefacts in learning: how the tools shape the user as they are appropriated by it.

Defining context

"conditions under which given resources are used" p.237

Gender norms

Past history p.238

Pre-existing activity p.239

The social environment of a group of tutors, students etc. who can be connected f2f or via technology


Learning that occurs through the use of information and communications technology (Khan 2005).

Aspects of learning foregrounded

Cooperative learning

Collaborative learning

How technology has changed the work environment as students can study in their rooms but stay in contact with their peers

Community and the ways in which social groupings can be designed to advance individual and collective understanding


Attempts to situate technology in context for analysis

Framework assists more focused analysis of writing process in different contexts

Making it accessible to wider variety of researchers; newcomers as well as for more experienced researchers.

Closer analysis of system facilitated by accurate tracking.

Formalising the process and producing consistency

Clarity and focus


Subtle cues overlooked by researchers p.240

Range of possible contexts surrounding any resource may be impossible to manage within any single software design p.240

Unable to generalise as the context is always different

Not convinced gender differences are that simple. Not all men are the same!

Analysis of writing using ICT seems outdated in that students tend to use widescreens divided for easy viewing and/or multiple screens or devices.

Does not analyse students reasons for working the way that they do - just looks at surface process

The overall network is based on constructivism and social interaction and this may lead to the research design excluding behaviourist and cognitivist viewpoints.

Coarse grained analysis

Application and uses

Studying group interactions with technology and the effect on learning

Studying individual interactions with different tools

Studying group interactions at macro level and identifying contradictions

Appropriate data collection methods to use

Observation / video recording

Log of contact and activity in group work p.238



Analysis of interactions

Depends on the results required

Appropriate data analyses to use

Qualitative: conversation analysis of different types

Quantitative: time spent on activities

Qualitative: conversation analysis of different types

Qualitative generally


In your tutor group forum, discuss how you see the differences between these readings:

I believe that Reading 8 (Tolmie) illustrated a piece of research that concentrated on one aspect of collaborative learning: the effect of context. Examining this as a single concern allowed its analysis in depth although the researchers raise concerns about missing subtle cues. The other two readings used frameworks to examine a broader field and both sets of authors raise concerns about the coarseness of the analysis. Reading 9 (Crook & Dymott) uses a cognitive framework with its emphasis on individual interactions with different tools and Reading 10 (Greenhow & Belbas) uses a constructivist framework with its emphasis on cultural-historical context and how human consciousness effects behaviour. This framework is used to study group interactions.

Activity 9.4: Re-examining your taxonomy of theories (2 hours)

Look back to Activity 7.5, in which you attempted to develop a taxonomy for the theories in the wiki. How do Readings 8, 9 and 10 fit into this taxonomy? Share your reflections in the tutor group forums.




























Socially situated














Reading 8






Reading 9




Reading 10









I looked at the reports of the collaborative activities used by the three papers and fitted them into the HLM model that I developed for the taxonomy I used for activity 7.5. It surprised me a little to see that it actually worked! Reading 9 came into line with the cognitive approach and the other two were more closely matched with the constructive and socially situated approaches. This could be claimed to be a good result but I am not happy with it. I have been doing some research this week on different learning theories and I have come up with the following:

Main Paradigm


Analysis Networks


Classical Conditioning (Pavlov)


Operant Conditioning (Skinner)

Social Learning theory (Bandura, moving towards Cognitivism)


Cognitive load theory (Sweller)

Distributed Cognition

Crook & Dymott framework for writing analysis

Cognitive theory of multimedia learning (Mayer)

Attribution theory (Weiner)

Elaboration theory (Reigeluth)


Social development theory (Vygotsky)

Actor-network theory

Activity theory

Communities of Practice (Lave & Wenger)

Discovery Learning (Bruner)

Situated learning (Lave)


Experiential learning (Kolb)


I am still feeling my way with all this and not sure I am correct. I would really welcome some input from other people on this before I approach the TMA. My current thoughts are that socially-situated learning and experiential learning are sub-categories of either congitivism or constructivism, depending on how they are approached.

If I am correct, then the taxonomy I devised distinguished well between the main paradigms but is not good for differentiating between the theories.


Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Lynn Hunt, Saturday, 2 Apr 2011, 20:48)
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