Using activity-oriented design methods to study collaborative knowledge-building in e-learning courses within higher education

Article

Abstract

Trends in higher education have contributed to the need for more coordination and collaboration among different constituencies involved in instructional design and delivery. As researchers and educational technologists working in a large public research university, our research focuses on understanding the interactions among various stakeholder groups involved in e-Learning courses. In this paper we provide an interpretation of how Activity-Oriented Design Methods (AODM) based on Activity Theory can be used to develop a more comprehensive understanding of collaborative knowledge building practices among course design teams and their students. We also discuss how these methods can inform instructional design and development within distance education programs. In the absence of universally accepted methods for applying activity theoretical perspectives, these methods provide an analytic scheme for identifying the essential elements of an activity and for examining their interrelationships or contradictions, which are essential to improving the activity overall. The procedures described here have been used in a series of e-Learning case studies at our institution. We draw from one case to illustrate our interpretation of Activity-Oriented Design Methods. The themes discussed in this paper have implications for a broad audience of educational researchers, technologists, instructional systems designers, faculty, course assistants, and administrators concerned with examining and advancing collaboration among different groups in developing e-Learning.

Keywords

Activity theory Collaboration Course development E-learning Higher education Qualitative methods 

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Copyright information

© International Society of the Learning Sciences, Inc.; Springer Science+ Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Learning Technologies, College of Education and Human DevelopmentUniversity of MinnesotaSE MinneapolisUSA
  2. 2.Social Sciences DivisionMacalester CollegeSt. PaulUSA

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