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Title:Offline mediators online: writing activity in two middle school classes
Author(s):Kline, Sonia
Director of Research:McCarthey, Sarah J.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):McCarthey, Sarah J.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Cope, William; Greene, Jennifer C.; Prior, Paul A.
Department / Program:Curriculum and Instruction
Discipline:Curriculum and Instruction
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Activity Systems Analysis
Case Study
Computer technologies
Cultural Historical Activity Theory
Digital technologies
Language Arts
Online technologies
Tracing methodology
Abstract:Many look to digital technologies to promote more equitable literacy learning. Even potentially transformative technologies, however, are neither created nor used within a vacuum. Instead, a range of mediators influences their design and implementation (Kaptelinin & Nardi, 2006). Framed by cultural historical activity theory (CHAT) (Leont’ev, 1981; Vygotsky, 1978), this dissertation broadens the study of students’ literacy learning in educational settings by considering offline mediators as constitutive of students’ online literate activity. Specifically, this comparative case study situated in two English language arts classes taught by the same teacher (one with a mandated curriculum and one without a mandated curriculum) in a junior high school with a diverse, low-income population, addresses the following research questions: What was the nature of students’ online literate activity in each of the two English language arts classes? In particular, what mediators were evident and how did these mediators influence students’ online literate activity and the literate identities available to students? The study employed ethnographic methods to investigate students’ online literate activity over the course of a school year. Activity systems analysis (Engeström, 1987) and a tracing methodology (Prior, 2004) guided data collection and analysis. Findings indicated that students’ online literate activity in the two classes was unequal and inequitable. In the class with the mandated curriculum, student activity was premised on a didactic pedagogy focused on reading strategies, and students were positioned as struggling learners in need of remediation. In the class without the mandated curriculum, student activity involved composing, and students were positioned as collaborative creators; their activity, however, was also restricted. In both classes, offline mediators significantly influenced online activity, including ideologies of literacy and schooling, teachers’ initiating texts, and the accountability policy context. This study reinforces the importance of attending to the influence of offline mediators on K-12 online learning environments and offers implications for practice. Drawing on Cole and Griffin (1983), the researcher argues for the use of online environments for re-mediating (transforming the mediators in students’ learning environments) as opposed to remediating (attempting to fix students’ “deficits”).
Issue Date:2014-09-16
Rights Information:Copyright 2014 Sonia Kline
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-09-16
Date Deposited:2014-08

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