Presentation Andreas Müller-Hartmann (León April 2009)

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Activity Theory and Telecollaboration

Activity Theory and Telecollaboration

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  • 1. Activity theory as a theoretical framework for research of telecollaborative partnerships in foreign language teaching Andreas Müller-Hartmann Pädagogische Hochschule Heidelberg EUROCALL CMC SIG EVENT: Researching Computer Mediated Communication in Foreign Language Education: Issues and Methods Universidad de León (April 23rd -25th, 2009)
  • 2. Structure of the workshop
    • 1. Introduction to activity theory
    • 2. Group work phase
    • 3. Discussion and summary of findings
  • 3. Telecollaborative project
    • Partners: PH Heidelberg – Columbia U, NYC
    • CU learners: older (25-45) some with a lot of teaching experience (M.A. TESOL)
    • PH learners: early 20s and some teaching experience (equivalent to M.A. in 3 subjects, one of them TEFL)
    • Learning platform: Moodle (forum + wiki)
    • Forming groups: 2 learners (PH) + 2-3 learners (CU)
  • 4. Task sequence
    • 1. Introduction task – comparing institutional contexts
    • 2. Two practice tasks: Analyzing and re-designing American + German EFL textbook tasks
    • 3. Final task (assessed at CU): Designing lesson plan for improved task sequence and designing a cultural awareness-raising task
    • 4. Peer evaluation of final task
  • 5. Task-based language teaching
    • Task-as-workplan
    • Task-as-process
  • 6. Activity Theory and the Classroom
    • Language learning is set in a sociocultural context
    • The language classroom is a community of practice
    • Interaction or human activity is characterized by the participants‘ motives
    • Interaction or human activity is organized on the basis of tasks
    • The community of practice is influenced by institutional affordances and constraints
  • 7. Community Rules Division of Labor Object Outcome Mediational Means: Symbolic and Material Artefacts Subject, Subject Collective Level I Level II Level III
  • 8. Research focus
    • The subject or subject collective “is an individual or subgroup whose agency is, in the emic sense, the perspective or point of view of the analysis. The object describes the orientation (and with that the motivation) of the activity” (Thorne 2004: 57).
  • 9. Activity versus task
    • “ An activity (…) comprises the behaviour that is actually produced when an individual (or group) performs a task. It is the process, as well as the outcome, of a task, examined in its sociocultural context.” (Coughlan & Duff 1994: 175).
  • 10. Three levels of human behavior
    • 1. The activity level is motivated by a biological and/or social/societal need or desire (-> developing competences in TBLT and CMC)
    • 2. Actions represent the motive in the form of goal-oriented behaviour (-> tasks to develop teaching competences in TBLT, for example, analyzing and redesigning textbook tasks)
    • 3. Operations are automatized or habituated actions that respond to the immediate social-material conditions at hand (-> using specific tools, for example, the wiki)
    • (Based on Lantolf & Thorne 2006: 216)
  • 11. Contradictions in the activity system
    • Activity systems are characterized “by contradictions or systemic tensions which trigger innovation and change and are a source of development” (Blin & Munro 2008: 477).
  • 12. Quantitative and qualitative research
    • “ Methodological triangulation can help to reduce the inherent weaknesses of individual methods by offsetting them by the strength of another, thereby maximizing both the internal and external validity of research“ (Denzin 1978; in Dörnyei 2007: 43-44).
  • 13. Data sources
    • Pre-questionnaires on computer competence and learners’ expectations
    • Posts in the forums
    • Wikis
    • Magnifying glasses and mind maps
    • Group discussion of magnifying glasses
    • Post-questionnaires on learners’ experiences in the project.
    • Portfolios
    • Mails between Carolin Fuchs and myself
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  • 18.
    • Thank you very much for your
    • attention and your hard work!!