Prof. Dr. Charles Max gave a keynote talk at the international summerschool of the CETE (Center of Excellence for Technology Education) network at the University of Essen-Duisburg (Ger) on June 21. The talk addressed the theoretical and methodological concerns of our research on inquiry-based learning processes. It examined to what extent sociocultural views on human knowing, learning and acting in the legacy of Vygotsky’s cultural historical school of thought might be beneficial for analysing student activity in technologically enhanced school environments. Tool-mediated human activity was the core unit of analysis and was explored from a dynamic and situated perspective, i.e. within its complex, multi-voiced social and cultural circumstances.
The talk put a particular focus on the constructionist research approach and the multi-method framework. The latter was set up a) to gain a very complete and valid understanding of the situated processes occurring in their “natural setting”, b) to understand the dialectical interplay of the individual and the social c) to apprehend the dynamics between learning-teaching practices and meditational means (seen as distributed among people, semiotic and physical tools, time, space and physical environment).
In order to balance the ‘big picture’ and the fine-grained interaction processes at peer-to-peer level, i.e. to interconnect the meso- and micro-analytical levels of analysis, three planes, lenses or foci of analysis are combined. This triadic orchestration of personal, interpersonal and contextual lenses generates different sets of data captured by complementary collection methods to construct a complex and thorough picture of inquiry-based learning processes within socio-digital activity systems.