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ABS160 - Emerging power within emergent technologies: A CHAT perspective

3.8 New technologies and new ways of organizing work
Paper in a Working Group Roundtable (WGRT)
1:30 PM, Thursday 31 Aug 2017 (1 hour)
Convention Center - 2000 A - Table D
Emergent technologies, such as mobile devices, have been poised as radically altering the potentials for the future of education, especially in developing countries. At the same time, Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) in its ability to predict and facilitate expansive change is drastically altering contemporary understandings of emergent technology in language learning settings. This paper discusses how CHAT’s understanding of mobile devices as cultural artefacts that learners and teachers engage with in meaning-construction, are offering novel understandings of power relations within technology. The paper foregrounds these assertions by outlining a case study on foreign language learners’ mobile dictionaries- use, conducted in a South African language learning institution with fourteen adult foreign language learners and two foreign language teachers as participants. Findings indicated potential primary contradictions in the division of labour and object arising from teachers’ understanding of foreign language pedagogy as well as their defined roles within their institution. Following this, more contemporary research of mobile devices for language learning is highlighted that focuses on how the introduction of mobile devices can potentially lead to a radical transformation in the object and subject positions offered in the classroom. In turn, as contradictions must necessarily lead to changes in the activity system, the paper presents possible trajectories of where mobile devices can shift pedagogy in learning contexts.
University of Cape Town
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