The theory of Instrumental Genesis (IG) accounts for the mutual evolution of artefacts and their uses, for specific purposes in specific environments. IG has been used in Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) to explain how instruments are generated through the interactions of learners, teachers and artefacts in ‘downstream’ classroom activities. This paper addresses the neglected ‘upstream’ activities of CSCL design, where teachers, educational designers and educational technologists use CSCL design artefacts in specific design-for-learning situations. The paper shows how the IG approach can be used to follow artefacts and ideas back and forth on the CSCL design and implementation pathway. It demonstrates ways of tracing dynamic relations between artefacts and their uses across the whole complex of instrument-mediated activity implicated in learning and design. This has implications for understanding the communicability of design ideas and informing the iterative improvement of designs and designing for CSCL.
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To be clear, we see ‘learning’ in broad terms. It is not just done by students, nor is it solely the result of instruction. It includes the development of richer understandings and sharper skills, brought about by a variety of experiences
The importance of artefacts in CSCL becomes even greater if one acknowledges that the category is not restricted to material and digital tools but also includes such things as task designs, collaboration scripts and other kinds of scaffolds - conceptual and/or procedural artefacts that sometimes take on a material and/or digital form.
We apologise for the visual similarity of these two contrasting terms, but they are now firmly fixed in the IG literature.
For clarity, we refer to design studios in general by using lower case. The specific Design Studio in which we carried out the research reported in this paper is denoted with upper case. We provide a brief description of the Design Studio in the section ‘Understanding the Design Studio in action’.
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The authors acknowledge the financial support of the Australian Research Council (Grant FL100100203). The studies were conducted under protocol 2012/2794 approved by The University of Sydney Human Research Ethics Committee.
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Carvalho, L., Martinez-Maldonado, R. & Goodyear, P. Instrumental genesis in the design studio. Intern. J. Comput.-Support. Collab. Learn 14, 77–107 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11412-019-09294-2