RE: [xmca] looking for some direction

From: Emily Duvall <emily who-is-at>
Date: Sun Oct 21 2007 - 09:31:13 PDT

Hi Mark, I don't know if this is helpful, but my dissertation chapter 2,
which was posted by Mike some time ago, digs into the Vygotskian legacy
and then works through the ZPD in reference to dynamic assessment. I use
a lot of Dot Robbins work to help articulate an understanding of where
Vygotsky was in his project and then connect it to the ways his
followers have shifted the work in different directions. The focus, for
me is on the original Vygotskian cultural-historical approach as, as
Robbins considers it, a metatheory. I am particularly interested in the
Marxist link, the dialectical aspects but I don't spend a lot of time on
CHAT or sociocultural theory per se, but do make the connections.
My other interest, which may criss-cross somewhat with yours, is in the
ZPD of the child and the teacher, where the latter is related to as
reflective and reflexive teacher praxis. I take into consideration the
work of Dewey and Gadamer among others. This work is coming out as a
book chapter, probably before Christmas. I'd be happy to share this with
you if you think it would be helpful.

Emily Duvall
Assistant Professor Curriculum & Instruction
University of Idaho, Coeur d'Alene
1000 W. Hubbard Suite 242 | Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814
T 208 667 2588 | F 208 667 5275 |

-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Sunday, October 21, 2007 7:40 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [xmca] looking for some direction

Hello all,

One of the items in the recent Wells article which caught my eye, was
the section on Planning and Writing a Conference Paper (275).

In my current area of study, I have a few questions concerning this.
I hope that someone on the list can help me with the direction I need
to take.

My current paper (as part of my MA) is to do with ELT management. In
this paper, I am discussing a year-long project in which 4 students
have used computers and Skype (an online conference calling software
program that allows up to 9 people to be able to talk in a conference
setting. This software also allows the exchange of documents (in real
time), and text messaging, where weblinks can be added). This year-
long collaboration effort has resulted in the following:

1. An increase in the overall average of the students involved (now 6
students). We peer review, discuss readings, and discuss the theory
based on our own classroom experiences.
2. Collaborative research has resulted and two papers are now under
review for publication that was submitted by three of the members.
3. Teacher training and reflective teaching has now become part of
the project in which discussions of applications of the theory of the
program are tested in the classroom and the results brought back to
the Skype meetings for discussion.
4. A new website is being built along these concepts for the use of
collaborative learning and teaching as well as the discussion of
theory. This site will be used by MA students, to take their
knowledge to the next level. This site will be launched at JALT 2007
in Tokyo next month.

Point 3 has become the focus of my paper, as I would like to discuss
the benefits of a distance ed MA program in which 'going it alone'
vs 'don't go it alone' has some key issues, especially when it
applies to the application of the theory of TEFL in the classroom.

My paper will propose that the benefits of distance education are
great, supported by the fact that being already in the classroom has
its benefits for immediate trial of new concepts or theories.
But I would also like to propose that collaboration is a big part of
teacher training and reflective teaching with other teachers who are
experiencing the same learning. 'Don't go it alone' proposed by the
university in this distance ed course is great advice, but up to now,
so many groups have failed and not continued beyond a few months.
My arguments for collaborative learning are supported by this year-
long effort, but more importantly I would like to incorporate
arguments outside of our own study to support collaborative learning
in a distance ed program, using tools such as Skype (or other).
I have searched for information on constitutive and ancillary
discourse as well as read a lot of Wells' books to grasp the ideas
behind my arguments (Dialogic Inquiry; Action, Talk and Text;
Learning through interactions). I have also read through Lantolf and
Thorne, as well as a few others trying to grasp the Activity Theory
concepts vs the Sociocultural Theory concepts and how I can
incorporate them into my paper. The paper by Wells most recently
discussed on this list I thought had a lot of applications towards my
arguments, yet I need to understand this more, before I can use it in
my paper.

I would like to follow my discussions of the group dynamics with
theory of collaboration. I am really confused with some of the
terminology (mainly in the Activity Theory and Sociocultural Theory
Vygotsky's zpd concept is one that I would like to discuss, as it is
an excellent example of using Skype to assist each other through our
zpd's (not only in the understanding of various concepts, but also in
the application of the theory in our classrooms). I need to support
my arguments though using the idea of student-student interaction
moving to teacher-teacher interaction. (as a group we are students,
but in our professional lives we are teachers)
I would like to know more about ancillary and constitutive discourses
to discuss what is actually happening inside of the Skype meetings.
My paper will ultimately be used to propose an innovation to the
distance ed programme based on 1. the year-long study and its results
and 2. applications supported by the activity and sociocultural

 From my readings so far, I have gone as far as I can without asking
questions. I've reached the point though where I things need
clarification, or I need to be pointed in the right direction to get
the answers I am looking for.
Mainly in how I can apply these two theories to support my arguments
for benefits of distance ed learning with collaborative support from
peers using Skype.

This has turned out to be a very interesting study between the MA
students involved and the results of the collaboration have been

Could someone please help point me in the right direction for the
answers I'm looking for?


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Received on Sun Oct 21 09:36 PDT 2007

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