RE: [xmca] Kevin's paper for discussion: video

From: O'Connor, Kevin (
Date: Wed Jul 12 2006 - 19:59:17 PDT

Hi all,
A segment of the videoconference that was the basis for part of the analysis in my paper is now available - thanks to Claudia, Lars, and Mike for going to the trouble to get this up. To view the video go to:

You should find a link to "Video Conference" just under the title of my paper near the top of the page. It seems that there might be a need to reload the page in order to see the link.

Some orienting information: the video is about 6 minutes long. The segments that I analyze in the paper begin approximately 3 minutes into the video and go through the end. I included the first three minutes (which I didn't have the space to get into in this paper, but have analyzed elsewhere) because I think it's useful in giving a bit more of a sense of the interaction.

As to what you'll see on the screen: this was the screen that the Tech students were looking at. I was physically located at Tech and videotaped the conference with my camera behind the students. The Tech students are seen in the upper right wndow, with Joe on the left and Katherine on the right. The large window is the three Institute students, Tina, Alex, and Luis, from left to right. The faces are masked, which can make it hard at times to tell who is speaking, but the transcript in the paper will help with this.

It might be useful to introduce the video by pointing to some of the issues that were under discussion on the list when I initially mentioned this paper. There was some discussion a couple of months ago about “legitimacy” in communities of practice – who is legitimate, who determines legitimacy, how are communities bounded and w/ what effects on legitimacy, etc.? In that context, I mentioned my paper as one example of how we might look at a learning context with these issues in mind.

In L&W’s analyses, the issue of who is legitimate and who determines this seems fairly straightforward – legitimacy is granted by oldtimers to newcomers. As I suggest in the paper, this way of viewing legitimacy depends upon an assumption that the CoP is benign and has clearly recognized representatives (the oldtimers) who have mastered relatively stable and uncontested sets of practices. As I also suggest in the paper, this assumption appears to be a strategic fiction, adopted by L&W for very specific reasons in putting forth an alternative understanding of learning. It seems to me, though, that how legitimacy is constituted in any particular instance, and with what effects, would need to be established and not taken for granted. To the extent that communities are not benign, or not stable, or not clearly bounded, to the extent that the identity of the CoP is being contested or can be contested, then to uncritically adopt L&W’s account of the sources of legitimacy is unwarranted.

I should mention that when I began work on this project, I was not thinking about “situated learning” in the way that I have since come to think about it, including in the paper being discussed – my expectation was that I would analyze the project more or less as a “cognitive apprenticeship.” This videoconference between Tech and the Institute was one of the key moments in the project that made it clear that this kind of analysis wouldn’t work, or at least would miss a great deal. I turned to the semiotic approach that I outline in the paper and in an earlier message as one way of exploring different possible ideas about situated learning. Other ways of course are possible, and I’ll be very interested to hear others’ views once you’ve had a chance to view the video.


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