Cultural-historical psychology as a basis for learning to use CSCW systems

University essay from Högskolan i Skövde/Institutionen för kommunikation och information

Abstract: Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) is a growing field, which aims at facilitating, by means of technology, coordination and communication between people, working together. One problem within the area is that users often have problems learning the systems. Activity theory, a theoretical framework often used within CSCW, includes theories of learning, which however, have received relatively little attention within CSCW. Activity theory, as developed by Leont'ev, stems from Vygotsky's cultural-historical theory, and has been further developed by Gal'perin. In this thesis the theories of learning in the works of Vygotsky, Leont'ev, and Gal'perin in particular, have been applied to CSCW in order to investigate the contribution these theories can make to support learning within CSCW. Several conclusions are drawn from the theories analysed in this thesis. To begin with, learning should take place in social settings. Learners also need to be motivated to learn and need to be oriented in the learning task before performing the action to be learned. They need to be guided by a teacher, who asks guiding questions during the learning process. It is of importance that the learner performs the action to be learned him- or herself and describes, both verbally and quietly, what he or she is doing. During the performance of the action, the learner should manipulate material or materialised objects. The conclusions from the analysis are summarised in a number of guiding principles for CSCW system training that may provide a theoretical starting point for taking a closer look at learning problems pointed out within CSCW.

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