[xmca] activity theory 3rd generation

From: Mark de Boer <mark.yomogi who-is-at gmail.com>
Date: Fri Nov 16 2007 - 23:53:27 PST

If I may ask for help once again...

I have a general idea of the various theories I would like to use in
the generation of my paper yet I am wondering if I may ask the group
for some help on the clarification of a few problems.

What I am proposing is based on the third generation model of the
activity theory as outlined in Daniels, 2001 p. 92 (Vygotsky and

Over the past year, a group of 6 teachers/students in an MA programme
have collaborated on-line using Skype.

Ultimately the motive in taking the MA course is to become better
educators, yet doing the studying alone for the course (it is distance
ed) is extremely difficult and for the most part not as effective as
it could be if there were 'study groups'. I am proposing a model for
Collaborative Reflective Teaching, using the activity theory as my

In creating our Skype study group, we have created (I think) an
activity system based on the workings of the Second Generation
Activity model.

In the first activity system (activity system 1) is the collaborative
teacher Skype group. The subject of the model in each case is the
individual teacher/MA student working in a community (with other
teachers/MA students). In one sense the outcome is the understanding
of the various concepts in the course material. The rules I have
defined as the various parameters under which we have decided as a
group to maintain the integrity of the group, the division of labour
divided up in terms of responsibilities of each member (making the
schedule, preparing the readings, determining the course of the
meeting). The mediating artifacts in this case I have shown to be
computers (Skype), as well as the texts.

I am confused though as to what my object is supposed to be.

In the second activity system (activity system 2) I have shown that
the teachers, going away from the group to their respective
classrooms, have prepared lessons or action research parameters to
take the theory from the skype group (activity system 1) and implement
them into the classroom. In this case, the subject, still being the
teacher in the classroom (community) and all the rules and division of
labor associated with the classroom - mediated by the prepared lesson.
Again, the outcome or is this case how the lesson evolves or what
theory can be taken from the practical (theory to practice and back to

The role of these two systems, teacher's learning in their zpd's
(Wells, 1999) in their ultimate goal to become better educators, yet
the actions which happen in each activity system form an area (object
3??) where reflective teaching can take place.

Daniels cites that Cole and Engestrom represent cognition as the
'emergent new state of the subject's knowledge' resulting from the
'analysis and synthesis of (at least) two sources of information in
real time', and the two being the object already held by the subject
and the object as represented through the medium (Cole and Engestrom
1993, p. 7).

In the 3rd generation diagram shown on p 92 of Daniels, what are the
objects? What am I missing here? Am I even correct in my assumption
that there are indeed two activity systems occuring here, both driven
by different motives in each case separately, (to understand course
material in system 1, and to put theory to practice in system 2 to
derive more theory to take back to system 1). Through collaboration,
this results in an effective teacher training programme derived from
the crossover of the two activity systems driven by the motive to
become a better educator. Is this correct?

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Received on Fri Nov 16 23:54 PST 2007

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