CALICO Journal, Vol 28, No 2 (2011)

Computer Supported Collaborative Writing in Practice: An Activity Theoretical Study

Françoise Blin, Christine Appel
Issued Date: 7 Aug 2014


This paper addresses issues of language use and negotiation and utilizes cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT) as a framework to analyze and understand the complexity of the mediational and collaborative structures constituting computer supported collaborative writing in a second language (CSCWL2) activities. Following an introduction to CHAT as an analytic framework, the article then presents the preliminary results of an activity theoretical study exploring the establishment and development of collaborative writing practices among a group of English as a foreign language distance learning students. The analysis focuses firstly on the goal-oriented actions carried out by students as they revised their writing, and secondly, on the emergence of deviations from planned normal procedures, as outlined in task guidelines, that resulted in different modes of interaction. The findings highlight the pivotal role of artifacts used and created by students in mediating their collective practice. They also reveal the emergence of different modes of interaction, i.e., coordination, cooperation and reflective communication. We suggest that while a cooperation mode of interaction afforded the development of language awareness and language use, the lack of transition to a reflective mode of communication and/or the contraction of the activity to coordination and cooperation modes constrained the further attainment of learning outcomes.

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DOI: 10.11139/cj.28.2.473-497


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