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Constructing a shared understanding in a new technological environment: A situated and comprehensive approach to ICT in educational settings

Jean-Francois Perret & Michèle Grossen

Résumé Since 2000, a series of pedagogical experiences based upon the use of ICT has been initiated on the instigation of the Swiss confederation in order to cope with the constraints of the “dual system” of training at work in vocational schools. In this dual system, the apprentices spend one or two days a week at school and the other days in their workplaces. Teachers often view this system as a source of discontinuity and difficulty. Consequently, the use of an e-learning platform was perceived as a means of reducing the inconveniences incumbent to this discontinuity, through a virtual extension of the classroom.
Drawing upon a socio-cultural approach to human activity, our study was aimed at evaluating these pedagogical experiences by adopting a comprehensive outlook which examines: a) the processes which are involved from the design of the projects to their realization; b) the organisational context in which these experiments take place; c) the meaning that the various groups of actors give to these experiments; d) the technological constraints to which the actors are faced
Beyond a large diversity in educational practices, our observations show that all the projects require a restructuration of the time dedicated to teaching and to individual learning. They are also characterised by an unpredictability which is mostly due to technological and organisational problems. As a consequence, the projects rarely function as it was planned. This unpredictability creates much uncertainty and obliges the actors to continuously reframe their activities and to adapt their actions to various emerging difficulties. In these conditions, it is very difficult for everybody to anticipate new modes of functioning.
In this context, many taken-for-granted educational assumptions are called into question so that the teachers and the apprentices have to construct a new understanding of their reciprocal expectations and obligations. This construction is a long-term process which is punctuated by many misunderstandings concerning basic assumptions such as: what does teaching and learning mean? What is communication through ICT? What is the role of a teacher? What can be expected from the school organisation?
In brief, the construction of a shared understanding and system of reciprocal expectations appears to be a situated process which depends upon various dimensions and unplanned elements which are liable to reorient the initial intentions and activities.
On a theoretical levels, these findings show that defining the construction of intersubjectivity as an interpersonal process is far too reductive. Interpersonal relationships and shared understanding are always embedded in organisational, institutional and technological environments which have their own constraints. Thus, constructing the meaning of new educational practices of communication cannot be parted from the conditions in which a project is designed and realised. In this perspective, drawing upon a situated approach to human activity is a promising way of analysing various forms of intersubjectivity in vocational training as well as of investigating the limits of this concept
   
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Citation Perret, J. F., & Grossen, M. (2005). Constructing a shared understanding in a new technological environment: A situated and comprehensive approach to ICT in educational settings. Presented at First ISCAR Congress International Society for Cultural and Activity Research: Acting in changing worlds: Learning, communication, and minds in intercultural activities. September, 20-24, 2005, Sevilla, Spain.
   
Type Présentation (Anglais)
Date 2005
Evénement First ISCAR Congress International Society for Cultural and Activity Research: Acting in changing worlds: Learning, communication, and minds in intercultural activities. September, 20-24, 2005 (Sevilla, Spain)
Liée au projet E-learning dans les écoles professionnelles - Projet ICT....