In a context of financial restraint and enterprising university managers, teacher-researchers have reason to be sceptical about the trend towards online teaching and away from learning for its own sake. This article departs from both economic and technological determinism and turns instead to ideas about technology embedded in social and political institutions. Activity theory offers a useful means of analysing such embeddedness. Its Marxian assumptions about human nature specify a non-deterministic approach to technology. Its dynamic model of the subjects, tools, and objects of activity within a context of rules, a community, and a division of labour helps to specify aspects of the authors process of learning how to use electronic conferencing effectively. A full deployment of activity theory would also analyse the activity of students. Here the evidence comes mainly from the activity of researcher-teachers engaging greater activity among students. The numbers of students involved precludes reliable quantitative analysis but qualitative evidence from students does support conclusions about researcher-teachers learning how to make best use of electronic conferencing.
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Field of Research
130306 Educational Technology and Computing
Socio Economic Objective
930599 Education and Training Systems not elsewhere classified
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