Great article! Especially good in its overview of the literature that
defines tools and artifacts. The authors tend to side with the separation
of psychological and material artifacts for the purpose of being able to
study how groups conduct a learning exercise. My understanding of why they
did this was so they could reference how many times the students refered to
the 'flip chart", the puzzle or the textbook. The authors do not dismiss
spoken language as artifact but rather there intention was to concretely
determine how many references to the artifact were made per session.
Big question raised by the authors is even though in all three examples
there is movement towards a completed lesson: getting the book read,
completing the puzzle or learning the english language there is no clear
method of knowing to what extent individual student's in each lesson gained
knowledge or "learned" anything.
I have always respected Engstrom's approach that the psychological aspect
of an artifact cannot be separated from the material object but I tend to
agree with the authors that this approach does not provide much of a
folcrum for studying how artifacts facilitate the learning process.
what do you think?
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