Learning and Socio-cultural Theory: Exploring Modern Vygotskian Perspectives International Workshop 2007


In conceptualising e-learning as a new pedagogic space, this paper builds on work which argues that the theoretical frameworks of Activity Theory and Bernstein can be brought into a productive relationship (Daniels, 2001a, 2001b, 2004). Using Activity Theory (Engestrom, 1999, 2001; Engestrom, Miettinen, & Punamaki, 1999) and Basil Bernstein’s pedagogic device (Bernstein, 1996, 2000), an examination of the dynamics that shape practice when e-learning technology is introduced into face-to-face teaching practice is undertaken. Activity Theory is shown to be successful in identifying the tensions/contradictions that emerge when the two activity systems of face-to-face teaching and e-learning technologies come into juxtaposition. The possibility for expansionist learning through reflection, discussion and critical analysis is examined. Bernstein’s pedagogic device is found to be useful in examining the means through which pedagogic discourse is established and maintained. Specifically, the notion of recontextualisation is shown to provide the opportunity to operationalise the mechanics that shape pedagogic practice when e-learning is integrated into teaching. It is concluded that the two frameworks provide different lenses for research that are complementary in examining the dynamics that shape teaching practice.

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