Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Intra-Action, Interaction and Outeraction in Blended Learning Environments

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Intra-Action, Interaction and Outeraction in Blended Learning Environments

Article excerpt

Introduction

Undoubtedly, people communicate to understand and to cooperate with each other in order to accomplish goals together. Similarly, individuals learn and solve problems through various communications by exchanging knowledge and by combining different perspectives at a knowledge or problem domain (Garrison & Shale, 1990; Laurillard, 1997; Lipman, 1991; Nardi, Whittaker, & Bradner; 2000; Wagner, 1994; Wenger, 2001). As a result, many new real-time applications that incorporate novel features seem to have potential to benefit learning performance. For example, Instant Messenger (from AOL) and Windows Messenger (from Microsoft) provide learners instant feedback and more immediate emotional connection (Nardi et al., 2000; Ron, 2003), which believe to have complemented asynchronous communication. In this regard, fostering new construction of knowledge for learners are more like the way of distributed cognition, particularly when web-based learning setting integrates both ways of communication.

Theory of distributed cognition (TDC) refers to process with two properties (Hutchins, 1995; McClelland, Rumelhart, & the POP Research Group, 1986). First, they are cognitive, i.e. they involve forming certain representations of the world. Second, they are not performed by a single person, but are distributed across multiple individuals. Considering the former, McClelland and his associates (1986) believe that people do the cognitive processing required by creating and manipulating external representations. Therefore, this process involves an external representation consisting of written symbols. As to the latter property, Hutchins (1995) considers that no one could physically do all the things that must be done to fulfill the cognitive task. Accoordingly, we are equipped wit knowledge derived from others' external representation.

Accepting the idea that cognition may be distributed throughout a system comprising both individuals and artifacts, this study believes that learners in web-base settings come to know the knowledge by being part of the cognitive system. However, the work by Hutchins and McClelland and his associates only help us understand what constitute distributed cognition. The work how these components function still remains a black box (Bell & Winn, 2000). This study therefore sought to deepen our understanding of how the distributed cognition in web-based learning environment spreads out. Seeing that research should reflect the ways that cognition is socially enabled and distributed through communication (Hutchins, 1995), we first referred to Nardi and his colleagues' (2000) definitions of two distinct kinds of communication: outeraction and interaction. Outeraction, as they define, is "a set of communicative processes outside of information exchange, in which people reach out to others patently in social ways to enable information exchange." Alternatively, interaction is "the actual exchange of information directly relevant to knowledge sharing or problem solving."

Two reasons tempt us to borrow their ideas to shape our research framework. First, in order to effectively collaborate and function as a virtual learning community, learners need to be aware of other peers, where they are located (demographic awareness), what others know (knowledge awareness) and what they are able to do (capability awareness) (Daniel, Zapata-Rivera, & McCalla, 2003; Gutwin & Greenberg, 1998). In light of the viewpoint, outeraction serves as a mechanism that creates connections to others, and consequently providing learners with the needed awareness, which is consistent to distributed cognition assumption that cognition is distributed across multiple individuals. Second, knowledge is mutually constructed through continuous interactions in which learners interpret information and knowledge that they try to share and exchange to one another. Thus, interaction inevitably leaves certain external representations, which is another requisite of distributed cognition. …

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