Activity Theory and Higher Education: evaluating learning technologies

Scanlon, E. and Issroff, K. (2005). Activity Theory and Higher Education: evaluating learning technologies. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 21(6) pp. 430–439.



This paper examines current practice in the evaluation of learning technology in the UK and proposes a new approach informed by Activity Theory. It is based on our experiences of using Activity Theory to understand students' and lecturers' experiences of technology-based teaching environments. We discuss the activity of evaluating learning technologies in higher education, and some frameworks currently in use that assume an efficiency criteria for their evaluations. We use the evaluation criteria proposed by Breen et al. (2001) as a starting point for alternative criteria to review a number of examples of technology based teaching in Higher Education. We identify a need for a broader view of the outcomes and value of using learning technologies and relate this activity to a new approach based on an Activity Theory augmented view of evaluation.

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