Connecting levels of activity with classroom network technology

  • Tobin White


Classroom activity traditionally takes one of three forms, variously oriented toward the levels of individual students, small groups, or the whole class. CSCL systems, however, may enable novel ways to facilitate instruction within or sequence activity across these different levels. Drawing on theoretical accounts of learning at and across different scales of social interaction, this paper examines episodes of classroom activity featuring two learning environment designs that leverage networked digital devices to support face-to-face collaboration. Analysis of these episodes focused on two questions: When did activity shift between small and whole-group levels, and what mechanisms enabled or supported those shifts? Findings suggest that classroom activity in these environments was sometimes characterized by frequent, rapid shifts between levels, as well as instances that suggested hybrid forms of small-group and whole-class interaction. These shifts between and overlaps across levels were enabled and sustained through mechanisms including teacher orchestration, mediating roles played by virtual mathematical objects, learners’ appropriation of shared artifacts and resources, and emergent properties of these complex interactions among classroom participants.


Mathematics Classroom networks Sociocultural theory Classroom orchestration 



This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DRL-0747536. Jeremy Roschelle and several anonymous reviewers provided insightful feedback on earlier drafts.


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Copyright information

© International Society of the Learning Sciences, Inc. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of California, DavisDavisUSA

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