Peking University, China / University of Helsinki, Finland
Thesis: Using activity theory to understand the dynamics of technology-based classroom practices and their implications on expanding teachers’ interpretation and competences of technology integration
Research supervisor: Dr. Xiaomeng Wu, Associate Professor
I am Shuling Li, a doctoral student of Peking University and currently, a visiting PhD student of CRADLE of University of Helsinki. My visiting period is from January 2019 to December 2019. With this letter, I would like to express my interest in 2019 ISCAR summer university and my desire for applying for a position.
I am particularly drawn to the ISCAR summer univeristy because it provides me with precious opportunities and experience in two key areas in which I am long for.
First, with my current experience as a new learner of activity theory, I wish to expand my theoretical knowledge of activity theory and turn my focus towards the wide-scale applications of activity theory in the field of educational technology, such as technology-enhanced teaching, learning and teachers’ professional development. By reading the information online and learning from students who attended ISCAR before, I have found that ISCAR provides broad introduction of cultural-historical psychology and activity approach, which are best suit what I need and what I plan to learn at present stage. The prospect of participating in ISCAR summer university is an excellent way to learn the solid theoretical foundation of activity theory, as well as build upon my cultural cognisance.
In addition, during last seven years, I specialize in educational technology research and conduct studies with different approaches from different perspectives of educational technology. Please find enclosed my CV as requested. As part of my role I attend projects regarding digital technology and practices for school improvement, liaise with in-service primary and secondary school teachers regarding their teaching environment, teaching practices and interpretations of current technology integration, conduct observations and interviews, code complex situations and responses, and in turn, produce insightful reports. During this role, I got the knowledge of what happened in present schools and the transformations of teachers’ instructional practices because of the large-scale introduction of information technology. Although various theoretical perspectives have been used to study such situations, there is still a lack of a systemic theoretical framework for analyzing the complexity and inner dynamics of these situations in my experience until I learned about activity theory. Activity theory, as a conceptual and methodological framework, not only enables the studying human behaviors, but also provides lens for examining how school and classroom systems interact to mediate teachers’ technology integration practices. But my theoretical basis of activity theory is very limited that I cannot use activity theory to carry out related research. Luckily, course curriculum of ISCAR summer university covers methodological foundations of the cultural-historical theory and activity approach in the research of various aspects of education and development. It is quite a valuable opportunity for me to enrich my theoretical knowledge and improve my research ability of conducting research from socio-cultural perspective.