Education Article Review

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Activity Theory and Actor-Network Theory

AT has its roots to the works of French philosophers and semiotics and has been greatly influenced by Vygotsky (1978). Activity theory holds that the human mind is the product of their interaction with other people and artifacts within the context of their everyday activity. In their book, Kaptelinin & Nardi (2009), explored activity theory, its principles, history, relationship with other theoretical approaches and application in the analysis and design of technologies. The authors give the first ever systematic entry-level introduction to the major principles of AT. They describe the accumulating body of scholarly works that relate to interaction design formed by AT by drawing from the works done by other authors and designers. Kaptelinin and Nardi (2009) discussed the notion of the object of activity, gave its use in empirical studies an discusses the key debates in the development of AT. The authors further give the current and future issues in AT which provides a comparative analysis of the theory and its leading competitors within the interaction design: actor-network theory, distributed cognition, and phenomenologically inspired approaches.

According to Kaptelinin, the fundamental tenets of activity theory define human activity. According to him, the tenets are human intentionality, asymmetry of people and objects, the importance of human development, as well as the aspect of culture shaping human activities, while activity theory focuses on human actions in relation to given contexts and situations. Activity theory also involves interaction design, because, there is a relationship between activity and interaction. Relating these theories to contexts depends on the contextualization of themes and concepts. Interaction design analysis is crucial in education because learning involves interaction, especially between students and teachers. Kaptelinin and Bonnie’s tenets relate to studying learning environments since there is an aspect of human intentionality in education (Kaptelinin and Nardi, 2006).

Kaptelinin shows that social and technological changes change humanity by affecting the interaction between individuals in society. This relates to this topic because social and technological contexts have a bearing on the choice and effectiveness of learning environments. Activity theory requires that the scope of analysis in a certain context to shift and extend from tasks to a logical context regarding a subject’s interactions. Thus, developmental research involves considerations relating to paradigm shifts in contexts of education. In life, human activities involve interaction design and human interaction with technology, and studying human activities relating to technological advancements involve considerations focusing on technology, students, and the environment…

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