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[Xmca-l] Re: 3rd generation activity theory

Thank you for your replies. For some reason I did not get them in my
mailbox, so I am consolidating

the mail here from the XMCA archive site and replying to everyone
below each of your messages.

Hi Mark,

I think the issue is really complex.
Are the students using the open forum to make the poster better for
or to advance the thinking that the poster represents.
If it is the first then I don't think you can think of it as the type of
progressive thinking the Knowledge Forum for instance is looking to create
through student interactions.  It is instead the students looking to use the
technology to advance their needs within the larger system (a good
poster means a better grade).
On the other hand if you can show that the students are really
changing each other's
thinking about what's on the poster (and I am not sure you can from
the dialogue you
presented here) then you can make an argument for augmented thinking,
for progressive
development of thinking, I am guessing for 3rd generation activity theory.

I think Kai Hakkarainnen and Sammi Paavola have written some really
interesting stuff on this.
Take a look at some of their articles.


Hello Michael,

The students are doing both. They use the forum to better the poster,
but as they are doing this,

the poster is evolving to change from data to 'a message', i.e. the
data are facts concerning pet

bottle manufacturing, recycling, and usage, which evolves into a
message that pet bottles are harmful for

the environment, harmful for our bodies, and that we should stop using
them. So although the dialogue

I  showed here doesn't show this (there is a lot of dialogue that is
not shown in my short example),

the majority of the dialogue moves the process forward, what should be
done, what message should be put in the poster,
but the content in the posters provides the most evidence that there
is influence of content, content added

often has an influence on other content, and the message evolves. The
issue is complex, it is a language learning classroom,

and I am attempting to show that through the student interaction, they
are dynamically assessing each other.

Hi Mark

It is not clear to me from your explication why you need 3rd gen AT.
I concur with Mike, Mark.  There is not a *system *of activity being
negotiated here as I see. Beliefs, motives, goals, division of labour,
subject, object, outcomes. It's seems like overkill in your situation,
where content is being negotiated and renegotiated.  I am at a loss to
offer you anything more than what you are dealing with in terms of
dialogue, except you might like to see what Eugene Matusov might have to


Hello Mike and Carol,

Originally, my thoughts were to examine what the learners were doing
in the forums, and came up

with the conclusion that this was an object oriented activity. The
thinking came from reading
'Toward overcoming the encapsulation of school learning' by Engestrom,
as learners are working on their

understanding of the different concepts of the topics they are going
to present on. I showed division of labour,

subject, object outcomes, tools. My dilemma, was that I wanted to show
that on one side there was the language which was driving

the process forward, this can be easily proven using different
analytical tools, but I also wanted to show that as a result of

collaboration, the students would develop content.(this can also
easily be seen from the data). But as they developed content,
they would discuss it, thus the content was also responsible for the
collaboration. This would be done up to the point of where
they would present. Thus the division of systems (in my mind).
I also wanted to show that the object (poster) was not the end
product, it was used as a tool for their presentation
(tools-and-results activity).

I am confused now, because I have written, submitted, and passed 2
literature reviews towards my PhD with these concepts in mind and
now I am currently writing the final paper, showing the analysis of the data.

> On Aug 16, 2016, at 9:04 AM, Mark de Boer <mark.yomogi@gmail.com> wrote:
> I can understand what happens between 1 and 2. This is a simple case. But
> between 2, 3, and 4 it becomes complicated.

Mark, I don’t yet understand what happens between 1 and 2!

> 1. Student A: 'Let's begin working on our poster'
> 2. Student B: 'I made my poster, please check' (poster1 file an attachment
> in the forum)

How did “our poster” become “my poster”?


Dear Martin,

Because this is a group of 4 students, even though they are developing
a poster as a group, they
(as is seen later on) end up dividing the work and each start to
create 'their part of the poster',

so the dialogue moves from 'let's make our poster' (as a group) to 'I
made my poster' (contribution to the

group's whole poster). Later on in the dialogue, the group leader
divides the work of the poster into

topics as I showed, but then after a number of days, he decides to
assign these topics to the other

students in the group. The dialogue moves from one poster being
created - moving from student to

student, to 4 sub posters being created by 4 students, and the
dialogue shows evidence that the

students are looking at each others posters, making suggestions about
what gets written, and in

some cases altering other student's posters. At the end the posters
are printed and put on the wall

 ready for presenting.

I don't understand what happens between 5 and 6:

"5. Student B: 'I think that we should put the following contents in our
poster (suggesting a list of topics concerning pet bottles and pet bottle
use) Please give me your opinion.
6. Student C: 'I made a poster about (topic a), please check' (poster4 file
an attachment in the forum, originally poster3)"

How did poster3 get changed into poster4 that is "about topic a". Or was
poster3 already about topic a? If so, then why the need to introduce to
everyone with "I made a poster about (topic a)"? Was "topic a" something
that was introduced by Student B in turn #5? Is this due to the students
not having the resources in English to indicate how their turn relates to
the previous turn?

The continuity/discontinuity (aka "old/new information") is what is unclear
to me. The fact that this poster4 is a revision of poster3 suggests
continuity and old information. But the statement "I made a poster about
(topic a)" suggests discontinuity and new information.


Dear Greg,

I'm sorry I wasn't clear here. Even though the poster is starting to
get developed, the leader of

the group decides that there should be specific themes running though
the poster, thus topics (a-d) are decided

and written into the forum. Poster 3 file already contains some
information, but now student C takes that poster

and adds topic-a information. (Topic b information was already there).
So the poster begins to get built by adding

topic information. So although there is continuity and old
information, there is discontinuity and new information added.

Later some of the students also put information into the poster that
begins to link the different topics together.

At one point though the group leader decides that instead of listing
topics and having a free-for-all, each student randomly

adding information, he assigns the topics Student A gets topic a, etc,
and then there is a discontinuity and new information.

The poster that they have been sharing is somewhat abandoned (although
some information is pulled) and each student begins to

work on their own topic as a completely separate file, uploading it to
the forum as changes are made.

Thank you everyone for your replies. If it is at all possible, would
someone be willing to skype about this? I promise not to

take up much of your time. My skype handle is yomogi-cello. I would be
very grateful for any help or advice after you have read this post.

Warm regards,