The Students’ Participation in WebCT: An Activity Theory Perspective on Online Collaboration of Knowledge Construction

The Students’ Participation in WebCT: An Activity Theory Perspective on Online Collaboration of Knowledge Construction

Urai Salam (Tanjungpura University, Indonesia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-077-4.ch016
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Abstract

This chapter reports on the students’ interaction taking place within the virtual learning environment, WebCT. It is particularly critical of Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) analysis regarding the knowledge construction, evidenced by the transcripts of their online discussions. The guiding theory, Activity Theory, provides perspectives that can help instructors and teachers understand emerging learning participation mediated by computers. From this perspective, computers do not simply facilitate learning that could have been done without their presence. Rather, computer mediated communication could alter the entire flow of knowledge construction processes.
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Theoretical Background

To explore the collaborative process of knowledge construction, we need to examine the sociocultural view of activities. This perspective views learning as being distributed across people and tools. Hutchins (1995) argues that higher order thinking cannot be understood by simply studying individual cognition per se; rather, one should investigate the whole system in which the individual operates. This view shares much with Activity Theory in considering a system of people and technology as they engage together.

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