Vygotsky. - The Open University

Ann Jones
Institute of Educational Technology
Why ?
Research practices developed based on
his writings:
• sociocultural studies
• distributed cognition;
• situated cognition (and communities of
• activity theory
(Vygotsky & Research, Harry Daniels, 2008)
Trajectories of inquiry learning
(Littleton and Kerawalla, 2012)
The focus in this chapter is on understanding how
connections are made between ideas and
events over time. Specifically, we will explore
how connections, between known and new
(Rogoff 1990) and between everyday and
scientific understandings (…) are negotiated in
talk and interaction between learners and their
their teachers, and how this process is mediated
by representations and technologies
Main concepts from Vygotsky’s work
Brief examples of work where used
Further resources
• Vygotsky worked mainly in the 1920s in
• Charged with developing a system for
educating pedagogically neglected
• Developed psychological theories
• Work translated into English in 1970s
“Vygotsky’s..theory ..resembles a city. .. with broad new
avenues and ancient, narrow backstreets known only to
longtime residents, with noisy crowded plazas and quiet,
deserted squares………………The city changes, grows,
and is rebuilt. Whole neighbourhoods are demolished.
The centre is sometimes over here, and sometimes over
there. And so it goes” (Puzyrei, 2007)
“The Vygotsky described in the books of J. Wertsch
(1985a) does not resemble the Vygotsky in the works of
A.V. Brushlinskii (1994) or V.P.Zinchenko (1996)….”
….(Koshmanova, 2007) Also in Daniels, 2008 (p2)
Some key concepts and emphases in
Vygotsky’s work
• All learning is mediated, distributed
(social) and situated
• Importance of language
• Vygotsky’s ZPD
Mediated learning
Everything we do is ‘done through’, or
mediated by, cultural artefacts:
• We remember by using lists or by
grouping things into categories
• We talk and think using language
• Web 2.0 tools
Learning is social - distributed
• Learning is inherently a social activity, taking place
through social interaction:
…learning presupposes a specific social nature and a
process by which children grow into the intellectual
life of those around them (Vygotsky, 1978)
• Cognition is ‘spread over’ (Lave, 1988) the artefacts
Learning is social - distributed
Every function in the child's cultural development
appears twice: first, on the social level, and later, on
the individual level; first, between people
(interpsychological) and then inside the child
(intrapsychological). (Vygotsky, 1978)
Learning is situated
A concern with the processes of learning
and on meaning making in social
In investigating learning the focus is on
(Crook, 1994).
Language as a social tool
for learning and communication
Seen as having two main purposes:
1. Social, communicative or cultural tool for sharing
and jointly developing knowledge
2. Psychological tool for organising our thoughts,
reasoning, planning, reviewing
Children learn with the help of their speech, as well as
their eyes and hands (Vygotsky, 1978 )
It enables people to share and consider new ideas and
to reflect together on their actions” (Mercer, 2000
Words and Minds)
Zone of proximal development (ZPD)
• What we are able to do with the help of
others – that we cannot do alone
• "the distance between the actual
development level as determined by
independent problem solving and the
level of potential development …. under
adult guidance or in collaboration with
more capable peers." (Vygotsky, 1978)
Examples of use & approaches
• Timmis,Joubert, Manuel & Barnes
(2010) sociocultural approach to
studying students’ use of digital tools for
• Rose Luckin’s work with ZPD and
Learner Centric Ecology of Resources
Timmis, Joubert, et. al (2010)
• studied use of multiple digital tools for
communication in HE (collaborative learning)
• grounded in socio-cultural theories of learning
• understanding practice
• analysis looked for different kinds of communication:
transmissive, ritual and transformative
• Transmissive – go beyond common body of
knowledge or ‘expand the ways of knowing’
• Refer to challenges of building social presence, trust
and commitment to task
Timmis, Joubert, et. al (2010)
… how can communications be
understood as transmissive, ritual or
transformative and what are the
different roles of these different
communication forms?
Communications data from the module;
student-led group interviews;
preparatory questionnaires; VLE
discussion postings
Timmis, Joubert, et. al (2010)
• Choice of tool related to friendship
groups and home context, access and
economic factors rather than task
• Transformative communications mainly
in instant messaging conversations but
were scarce
Luckin’s work on ZPD
I…. came up with a design framework that
operationalised the 'Zone of Proximal Development'.
The key thing .. was to .. quantify the nature of the
assistance that you were giving people
So we built a Bayesian belief network model of the
ZPD, and quantified the amount of assistance that
people got. It's a piece of software called Ecolab. It
offered learners domain-level help.
Rose Luckin’s work
• Develops notion ZPD of and contextualised learning
• Software developed to help learners understand
Science concepts
• Help offered on basis of the learner model
• Identifies the context and the resources
BUT how do we scaffold learning in a connected world
where resources no longer tied to desktop
• Learner generated context enabled through
technology might support learners in collecting data,
offering information resources, local resources,
communication support
Examples of use & approaches
Rose Luckin’s work with ZPD
• Greg Kearsley:Theory into Practice Database
• James Atherton: Learning and Teaching website (no Vygotsky
though) http://www.learningandteaching.info/
• Rose Luckin see
• Practise based learning in Educational Technology
Crook, C. and Dymott, R. (2005) in Monteith, M. (ed.) Teaching Secondary
School Literacies with ICT, Maidenhead, Open University Press.
Littleton and Kerawalla (2012) Trajectories of Inquiry Learning; in (eds
Littleton Scanlon and Sharples) Orchestrating Inquiry Learning,
Mercer,N (2000) Routledge Words and Minds
Vygotsky and Pedagogy (2001) Daniels, H. Routledge
Vygotsky and Research (2008) Daniels, H. Routledge
Luckin, R. (2008) Computers & Education 50 (2008) 449–462 461
Timmis, Joubert, et. al (2010) Transmission, transformation & ritual: an
investigation of students’ and researchers’ digitally mediated
communications and collaborative work, Learning Media and

similar documents