Connecting agents and artifacts in CSCL: Towards a rationale of mutual shaping

  • Maarten Overdijk
  • Wouter van Diggelen
  • Paul A. Kirschner
  • Michael Baker
Article

Abstract

Studying how collaborative activity takes shape interactionally in the context of technological settings is one of the main challenges in the field of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL). It requires us, amongst other things, to look into the ‘black box’ of how technical artifacts are brought into use, or rather, how they are attuned to, interacted with, and shaped in various and varied practices. This article explores the establishment of a purposeful connection of human agents and technical artifacts in CSCL, that we call ‘the agent-artifact connection’. In order to contribute to a grounded conception of this connection, we reviewed three theoretical positions: affordance, structures and instrument. Although these three positions differ in how they conceptualise the connection, they share the assumption that a technical artifact carries a potential for action that becomes available when artifact and agent connect, and that the availability of action opportunities is relative to the ones who interact with the artifact. In this article, we map out the conceptual and methodological implications for each of the positions. We argue that the rationale of ‘shaping’ collaborative interactions that underlies a part of CSCL research should be replaced by a rationale of ‘mutual shaping’ of human agents and technical artifacts.

Keywords

Affordance Agent-artifact connection Instrument Mutual shaping Structures 

References

  1. Archer, M. S. (1995). Realist social theory: The morphogenetic approach. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baerentsen, K., & Trettvik, J. (2002). An activity theory approach to affordance. In O. W. Bertelsen, S. Bodker, & K. Kuuti (Eds.), Proceedings of the second nordic conference on human-computer interaction (pp. 51–60). New York: ACM Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baker, M., Bernard, F.-X., & Dumez-Féroc, I. (2012). Integrating computer–supported collaborative learning into the classroom: The anatomy of a failure. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning. Google Scholar
  4. Baker, M. J., & Lund, K. (1997). Promoting reflective interactions in a computer-supported collaborative learning environment. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 13, 175–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bansler, J. P., & Havn, E. (2006). Sensemaking in technology-use mediation: Adapting groupware technology in organizations. Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 15, 55–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bijker, W. (1995). Of bicycles, bakelites, and bulbs: Toward a theory of socio-technical change. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  7. Bonderup Dohn, N. (2009). Affordances revisited: Articulating a Merleau-Pontian view. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 4(2), 151–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chemero, A. (2003). An outline of a theory of affordances. Ecological Psychology, 15(2), 181–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Contractor, N. S., & Seibold, D. R. (1993). Theoretical framework for the study of structuring processes in group decision support systems: Adaptive structuration theory and self-organizing theory. Human Communication Research, 19, 528–563.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Costall, A. (1995). Socializing affordances. Theory & Psychology, 5, 467–481.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dant, T. (2005). Materiality and sociality. Maidenhead: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  12. DeSanctis, G., & Poole, M. S. (1994). Capturing the complexity of advanced technology use: Adaptive structuration theory. Organization Science, 5(2), 121–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dillenbourg, P., & Tchounikine, P. (2007). Flexibility in macro-scripts for computer-supported collaborative learning. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 23(1), 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dwyer, N., & Suthers, D. D. (2006). Consistent practices in artifact-mediated collaboration. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 1(4), 481–511.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Engeström, Y. (1987). Learning by expanding: An activity-theoretical approach to developmental research. Helsinki: Orienta-Konsultit.Google Scholar
  16. Engeström, Y. (1999). Activity theory and individual and social transformation. In Y. Engeström, R. Miettinen, & R.-L. Punamäki (Eds.), Perspectives on activity theory (pp. 19–38). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Fischer, F., Kollar, I., Mandl, H., & Haake, J. M. (2007). Scripting computer-supported collaborative learning: Cognitive, computational and educational perspectives. New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gaver, W. (1991). Technology affordances. Proceedings of CHI 1991, 79–84.Google Scholar
  19. Gaver, W. (1996). Affordances for interaction: The social is material for design. Ecological Psychology, 8(2), 111–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gibson, J. J. (1979). The ecological approach to visual perception. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  21. Giddens, A. (1986). The constitution of society: Outline of the theory of structuration. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  22. Gouran, D. S. (1999). Communication in groups: The emergence and evolution of a field of study. In L. R. Frey, D. S. Gouran, & M. Scott Poole (Eds.), The handbook of group communication theory and research (pp. 3–36). London: Sage Publishers.Google Scholar
  23. Hartson, H. R. (2003). Cognitive, physical, sensory, and functional affordances in interaction design. Behaviour & Information Technology, 22(5), 315–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hutchby, I. (2001). Technologies, texts and affordances. Sociology, 35, 441–456.Google Scholar
  25. Jermann, P., & Dillenbourg, P. (2003). Elaborating new arguments through a CSCL scenario. In J. Andriessen, M. Baker, & D. Suthers (Eds.), Arguing to learn: Confronting cognitions in computer-supported collaborative learning environments (pp. 205–226). Amsterdam: Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  26. Jones, C., Dirckinck-Holmfeld, L., & Lindström, B. (2006). A relational, indirect, meso-level approach to CSCL design in the next decade. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 1(1), 35–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kaptelinin, V., & Nardi, B. (2006). Acting with technology: Activity theory and interaction design. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  28. Kirschner, P. A., Strijbos, J.-W., Kreijns, K., & Beers, P. J. (2004). Designing electronic collaborative learning environments. Educational Technology Research and Development, 52(3), 47–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kollar, I., Fischer, F., & Hesse, F. W. (2006). Collaboration scripts - a conceptual analysis. Educational Psychology Review, 18, 159–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. LeBaron, C. (2002). Technology does not exist independent of its use. In T. Koschmann, R. Hall, & N. Miyake (Eds.), CSCL2: Carrying forward the conversation (pp. 433–440). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc.Google Scholar
  31. Leont’ev, A. N. (1978). Activity, consciousness, and personality. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  32. MacKenzie, D. A., & Wajcman, J. (1985). The social shaping of technology: How the refrigerator got its hum. Milton Keynes: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Miettinen, R. (2001). Artifact mediation in Dewey and in cultural/historical activity theory. Mind, Culture and Activity, 8(4), 297–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Muller Mirza, N., Tartas, V., Perret-Clermont, A., & de Pietro, J. (2007). Using graphical tools in a phased activity for enhancing dialogical skills: An example with Digalo. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 2(2–3), 247–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Norman, D. (1988). The psychology of everyday things. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  36. Norman, D. (1999). Affordance, conventions, and design. Interactions, 6(3), 38–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. O’Donnell, M. (2001). Classical and contemporary sociology: Theory and issues. London: Hodder and Stoughton.Google Scholar
  38. Oliver, M. (2011). Technological determinism in educational technology research: Some alternative ways of thinking about the relationship between learning and technology. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 27, 373–384.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Orlikowski, W. J. (1992). The duality of technology: Rethinking the concept of technology in organizations. Organization Science, 3, 398–427.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Orlikowski, W. J. (2000). Using technology and constituting structures: A practice lens for studying technology in organizations. Organization Science, 11(4), 404–428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Overdijk, M. (2009). Appropriation of technology for collaboration: From mastery to utilization. Unpublished doctoral dissertation: Utrecht University.Google Scholar
  42. Overdijk, M., & Van Diggelen, W. (2008). Appropriation of a shared workspace: Organizing principles and their application. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 3, 165–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Parker, J. (2000). Concepts in the social sciences: Structuration. Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Piaget, J. (1964). Six etudes de psychologie [Six studies of psychology]. Paris: Denoël.Google Scholar
  45. Rabardel, P. (1995). Les hommes et les technologies: Approches cognitives des instruments contemporains [Man and technology: cognitive approaches and contemporary instruments]. Paris: Armand Colin.Google Scholar
  46. Rabardel, P., & Bourmaud, G. (2003). From computer to instrument system: A developmental perspective. Interacting with Computers, 15(5), 665–691.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Rappert, B. (2003). Technologies, texts and possibilities: A reply to Hutchby. Sociology, 37, 565–580.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Sawyer, R. K. (2002). Unresolved tensions in sociocultural theory: Analogies with contemporary sociological debates. Culture & Psychology, 8(3), 283–305.Google Scholar
  49. Sewell, W. H. (1992). A theory of structure: Duality, agency, and transformation. The American Journal of Sociology, 98(1), 1–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Shaw, R. (2003). The agent-environment interface: Simon’s indirect or Gibson’s direct coupling? Ecological Psychology, 15(1), 37–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Stahl, G., & Hesse, F. (2006). ijCSCL - a journal for research in CSCL. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 1(1), 3–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Stahl, G., & Hesse, F. (2010). Beyond folk theories of CSCL. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 5(4), 354–359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Stahl, G., Koschmann, T., & Suthers, D. (2006). Computer-supported collaborative learning: An historical perspective. In R. K. Sawyer (Ed.), Cambridge handbook of the learning sciences (pp. 409–426). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  54. Stoffregen, T. A. (2004). Breadth and limits of the affordance concept. Ecological Psychology, 16(1), 79–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Suthers, D. D. (2006). Technology affordances for intersubjective meaning making: A research agenda for CSCL. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 1, 315–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Turner, J. H. (1986). The theory of structuration. The American Journal of Sociology, 19(4), 969–977.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Turner, P. (2005). Affordance as context. Interacting with Computers, 17(6), 787–800.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Van Diggelen, W. (2011). Changing face-to-face communication: Collaborative tools to support small-group discussions in the classroom. Unpublished doctoral dissertation: Groningen University.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© International Society of the Learning Sciences, Inc.; Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maarten Overdijk
    • 1
  • Wouter van Diggelen
    • 2
  • Paul A. Kirschner
    • 3
  • Michael Baker
    • 4
  1. 1.Independent researcherLeidenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Research Centre Learning in InteractionUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies (CELSTEC)Open UniversityHeerlenThe Netherlands
  4. 4.CNRS & Telecom ParisTechParisFrance

Personalised recommendations