Planned papers and papers in progress

Þuríður Jóhannsdóttir
Planned papers and papers in progress
I plan to write my thesis in 4-5 separate papers where I answer particular research
1. Paper: The activity of learning at a distance: a case study from teacher education
in Iceland. Paper presented at the 3rd Nordic Conference on Cultural and Activity
Research in Copenhagen, September 3-5, 2004.
The paper deals with the question: How and why were the student teachers in the
cohort first enrolled in the distance programme able to act as change agents in
their home schools? How may a historical phase of the programme (starting 1993)
be explained and understood from an activity theoretical perspective, especially
the concepts boundary crossing, change agents, developmental transfer and
expansive learning? Data built on are interviews with four teachers that were
enrolled in the first cohort starting 1993. They were then and still are teaching in
three different schools in the Westfjords of Iceland. (16 pages – paper in progress)
2. Paper: Distance student teachers as participators in multiple communities of
practice. A study of distance learners in a teacher education programme in
Iceland. Paper presented at NERA (Nordic Educational Research Association)
33rd congress in Oslo, March 10-12, 2005.
Dealing with: How can the reframing of the distance education programme along
cultural historical activity theory enhance our understanding of the form for
teacher education experienced by student teachers who hold jobs as teachers in
local schools while studying? How can the reframing be a basis on which to
investigate and develop distance education in response to changing needs in an
ever changing society? Built mainly on three informants, interviews and field
visits and observation in three different schools. (13 pages – in progress. Look at
Anne Edwards: relational agency and resourceful practitioners)
3. Paper: Boundary crossing between local schools and web-based learning
management systems in teacher education. A study of distance learners in a
teacher education programme in Iceland. Paper presented at the First international
ISCAR Conference, Seville, September 20-24, 2005.
Questions dealt with: What and how are student teachers enrolled in the distance
programme learning as participators in the activity system of the online course
module? The paper considers the content and methods of the distance approach
for teacher education as performed in selected online courses. How is
propositional knowledge and procedural knowledge connected in the form for
teacher education under consideration? What supports developmental transfer as
distance students who are teaching in local schools cross boundaries between the
two activity systems?
Built on analysis of transcripts of five web-courses taught in the spring term 2005
and interviews with three distance students and observations in on-campus
sessions and in my informants classrooms and local schools.
(17 pages – in progress. Look at Anne Edwards: relational agency and resourceful
practitioners and may be Bernstein to analyze school-culture or institutional
effects both in local schools and in the teacher education programme – see also
Harry Daniels)
4. Paper: The agency of student teachers in the activity system of a distance
Based on record of transactions in five online courses in initial teacher education
in Iceland University of Education as well as interviews with selected students in
the distance programme.
Paper presentation proposal sent to BERA 2006 - ACCEPTED
I plan to invite this paper to Technology Pedagogy and Education. Special Issue:
Online Communities of Practice in Education. Topic: Conceptual and theoretical
issues relating to the nature of online CoPs, February 2007.
Text for the BERA proposal
When possibilities opened up for distance learning with advanced information and
communication technology, promises were given both by policy makers and
professionals in education that students would be given more control over their
learning. The technology would allow students to control sequencing and pacing of
their studies and increasingly they would select the content they wanted to learn at
each time. The purpose of the study to be presented is to explore the practice of
online learning and teaching, in the case of five teacher education courses in Iceland,
in order to identify how control is distributed between teachers and students and in
what way this is affecting students’ agency.
The study is based on an analysis of transactions in five online courses as well as
interviews with selected students in these courses. Research questions under
consideration are: How can changes in teacher control change students’ agency? How
can key concepts from Bernstein’s theory on education such as framing,
classification, pedagogic device and recontextualizing fields be used alongside
cultural-historical activity theory to analyse content and communication in online
courses. How do ICT tools affect framing of teaching and learning in online courses?
Is it possible that new forms of learning are emerging and if so how they can be
conceptualized using Bernstein’s theories of education and theoretical concepts from
cultural historical activity theory?
Examples will be taken from courses both with strong and weak boundaries. Issues
arising concern the extent to which teachers frame the transactions with students
strongly or weakly. The extent to which recognition and realization rules were
accessible to students affects agency.
5. Paper: Unrecognized possibility for co-configuration between teacher education
and local schools
Text for proposal sent to ECER 2006 in Geneva
In the Iceland University of Education a distance programme for initial teacher
education has been offered since1993. Initially it was organized to meet a lack of
qualified teachers and the initiative was meant to enhance school development
especially in rural areas. Early on students were only admitted if they were
teaching in a school. Although the rules have changed, more than one third of the
distance students currently enrolled are working as teachers while studying.
In earlier work, and using cultural-historical activity theory, I have claimed that
these student teachers learn to be professional teachers by participating in and
crossing boundaries between the activity systems of the teacher education
programme and the local school. In this paper I will use Engeström’s concepts of
developmental transfer and expansive learning and will suggest that coconfiguration of the two systems, teacher education and local schools, is an
unrecognized possibility for the development of education.
Distance student teachers can make a contribution to co-configuration since they
are able to use affordances of both teacher education and local schools as active
agents in both institutions.
Methodology or methods/research instruments or sources used:
An analytical description of the historical development of the distance programme
is built on ethnographical fieldwork in five compulsory schools in sparsely
populated rural Iceland. The schools have been visited several times a year for the
last three years (starting 2003), and both formal and informal interviews
conducted with teachers, student teachers, principals and pupils. Classroom
observations have also been undertaken. Cultural-historical activity theory has
guided the study during fieldwork as well as in analysis and interpretations. This
paper will focus on analysing contradictions or disturbances caused by a situation,
in both the teacher education programme and the schools, where student teachers
have obligations to be active practitioners in both systems. The possibilities of
development of both local schools and the teacher education will be explored with
analytical tools from cultural-historical activity theory, especially from Yrjö
Engeström and the group for Developmental Work Research in University of
Conclusions or expected outcomes or findings:
Following Engeström’s conceptualisation on inter-organizational learning it will
be argued that co-configuration between the two institutions involved in the
professional education of the distance student teachers is needed. It will be argued
that the development of both schools and teacher education can be purposefully
directed by using activity theoretical tools to analyze and inform interventions
likely to support developmental transfer and expansive learning. Enhanced
understanding of the special situation of these student teachers, often having
obligations as full time teachers, might inform the debate on teacher education.
For example of co-configuration between teaching practice schools and the
teacher education at universities might be important.