Progress in Online Learning

This week I had three readings about Activity Theory from Wolf-Michael Roth, Bonnie A. Nardi and Sasha Barab. The theory has its original roots in Karl Marx and as you can see from the Wikipedia article, many of it’s roots seem to be in Moscow.

The theory as applied by the mentioned authors allows for a framework of analyzing the nature of actions within a community of focus, such as an online learning community. Everyone seems to agree that there are three AT components: subjects, objects and tools. Sasha was able to use these interactions to tune an online collaboration website for teachers and Nardi adds the element of passion to ask the question of why.

I also have a few observations from the student side about online learning that I would like to mention:

  • Online learning takes more time that you think. To really participate in the asynchronous discussion, you have to read the incoming messages as they are happening and respond right then. For the last two weeks, I have waitied for a scheduled time, read all the posts and made a few replies. I can tell that I am missing something by using this approach.
  • Synchronous Chats benefit greatly from ground rules. This week’s chat was much easier to follow simply because we had a bit of structure (we knew what the main topic of the chat was going to be) and some conventions such as a trailing “…” meant that more text is coming from someone so wait before typing something new.
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