Activity theory and technology mediated interaction: Cognitive scaffolding using question-based consultation on Facebook

Patient Rambe


Studies  that  employed  activity  theory  as  a  theoretical  lens  for  exploring  computer-mediated interaction have not adopted social media as their object of study. However, social  media  provides  lecturers  with  personalised  learning  environments  for diagnostic  and  prognostic  assessments  of  student  mastery  of  content  and  deep learning. The integration of Facebook into educators’ pedagogical intentions potentially scaffolds  students  cognitively,  leverages  their  understanding  of  content  and ameliorates  limited  mediated  learning  experiences.  Using  activity  theory  as  an interpretive  framework  and  a  multi-method  data  construction  process  involving  in-depth  semi-structured  interviews,  in-class  observations,  post  observation  debriefingand  data  mining  of  student  and  lecturer-generated  Facebook  postings,  the  studyexplored  Facebook’s  potential  to  scaffold  student  cogitative  processes  and  promote academic  engagement.  Findings  suggest  that  the  academic  value  of  Facebook  iscontingent  upon  the  extent  of  its  integration  into  the  pedagogical  design  of  courses, student academic maturity and their level of ICT competence. The unintended effects of  Facebook  were  its  reproduction  of  peer-based  academic  hierarchies,  and  its revelation  of  cognitive  tensions  and  power  differentials  between  academically  gifted and cognitively challenged learners during lectures.

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