University of Oulu

Multidimensional participation in polycontextual computer-supported language learning

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Author: Saarenkunnas, Maarit1,2
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education
2University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Department of Educational Sciences and Teacher Education
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.4 MB)
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Language: English
Published: 2004
Publish Date: 2004-11-09
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic Dissertation to be presented with the assent of the Faculty of Education, University of Oulu, for public discussion in Kaljusensali (Auditorium KTK112), Linnanmaa, on November 19th, 2004, at 12 noon.
Reviewer: Associate Professor Sten R. Ludvigsen
Associate Professor Pirkko Raudaskoski


This thesis is an interdisciplinary study on how students and teachers as participants in computer-supported language learning make meaning to their activities. The analysis moves gradually from a more general discussion of participant activity and interaction in computer-supported environments to a domain-specific discussion of language learning and work. The main body of data for the study comes from three different university language courses. The last empirical study introduces a complementary data set from working life.

The thesis grounds its arguments on a discourse perspective of meaning. Rather than considering meaning as a property of a text or discourse, meaning is seen to reside in the active efforts of the participants of a social situation. In the particular case of computer-supported learning, a multiplicity of modes has to be taken into consideration. Language, in the sense of words, is a partial bearer of meaning only. The theoretical framework advances from a discussion of computer-supported learning as a hybrid form of interaction to a discussion of situated perspectives and computer-supported learning. The research approach applies multiple perspectives due to the multimodal and polycontextual nature of computer-supported learning. Special emphasis is laid on reaching the participant perspective.

The findings highlight the multidimensional and polycontextual character of participation in computer-supported learning. The resources that the participants use for meaning-making reach beyond the textual interaction in the learning platform. Furthermore, the participants have multiple ways of taking part in the educational activities. The context that the participants produce for their actions exceeds the limits of the learning platform and ties the activity to the surrounding world in many ways.

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Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. E, Scientiae rerum socialium
ISSN-E: 1796-2242
ISBN: 951-42-7486-5
ISBN Print: 951-42-7485-7
Issue: 74
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2004. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.