CALL: a triangle of triangles

Montoro, Carlos and Hampel, Regine (2012). CALL: a triangle of triangles. The EuroCALL Review, 20(1)



Institutional investment in technology and infrastructure for the provision of new online and self-access language learning opportunities is not always accompanied by the necessary changes in the practices of learners, practitioners and managers in higher education (Wertsch, 2002). As a result, feelings of frustration, helplessness and confusion in individuals can begin to emerge soon after the initial excitement and novelty wear off. A large investment project that has little or no overall impact may give rise to questions about the adequate use of resources and ultimately lead to abandoning, discontinuing or replacing the project.

What lies at the root of failures to implement CALL institutionally? How can new practices emerge from existing ones? To explore these questions, in this paper we describe a project based on the assumption that the proposed CALL triangle consisting of the student, the teacher and the institution should be seen as a triangle of triangles, that is, the combination of three separate triangles, each one representing the specific activity system of the student, the teacher and the institution. The rationale is that these activities have different objects and motives as well as their own inner contradictions manifested in various ways.

Building upon activity theory (Leontiev, 1978; Vygotsky 1987; Engeström, 1987) and expansive learning theory (Engeström, 1987) principles, the authors advocate the Change Laboratory methodology developed at CRADLE (University of Helsinki’s Center for Research on Activity, Development and Learning) to bridge gaps between the three activities of the student, the teacher and the institution by finding a shared object, building a common zone of proximal development and creating the necessary tools that could lead to the formation of a new collective activity.

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