My learning background as a student of languages consisted in traditional teacher-centered instruction, text-book mediated learning, and exam-based assessment of grammar and writing competence, confined in technology-free classroom environments, which formed the basic structure of learning in my country at the time. I first became acquainted with socioconstructivist theories of learning and individual cognitive development, and adhering teaching practices when I decided to pursue doctoral studies in foreign language teaching.
My reading informed my theoretical knowledge on Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory, including mediation, the processes of internalization and externalization, the role of language in cognitive development, and conceptualizations of the Zone of Proximal Development, which gave me new insights into the process of learning as a situated socially-mediated activity. Further reading on CHAT and development through three generations of scholars (Vygotsky, 1978; Leont’ev, 1978; 1981; Engestr.m, 1987) offered me a set of concepts and schemas that helped me form an account of the way a learning context is constructed across the subjects or groups, tools, object and outcome(s), community, rules, and division of labor. Since then, I have been engaged in an extensive reading on Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory and activity theory as initially developed by Leont’ev, and later expanded by Engestr.m in the Western context. I realize that I still have a long way to go in fully grasping the underlying notions evoked in the theories of the mind. My reading up to the moment focuses on Western conceptualizations and practical applications of the theories. I think that attending lectures from Russian and other scholars, experienced in working with CHAT, will give me a different context of conceptualization and therefore additional views of the two theories that will enrich my understanding of CHAT and its affordances for investigating the learning process through instructional designs incorporating technology and computer-mediated communication, intended for achieving the multifarious goals of education.
I am currently involved in data analysis on teacher education drawing on the works of Vygotsky, Leont’ev, Bakhtin, and Engestr.m so I expect that by reinforcing my theoretical understanding of the central notions associated with sociocultural and activity theory, this summer school will add to my understanding of the data. Additionally, participating in talks and discussions with leading scholars and other researchers who share my concerns, and receiving feedback from them will help me fill whatever gaps, consolidate my analysis, and proceed with writing my thesis.