This past week I engaged in a collaborative partner project utilizing Prezi Next. We (my partner and I) were asked to create a Learning Plan to implement and use Prezi. We then had to design a Prezi that included a logical plan for a Prezi newbie to easily follow and learn about the Prezi platform. The experience required at least four touchpoints throughout the week by both my partner and me. The final project was divided into sections and completed independently.
This experience with my partner allowed me to engage in the Activity Theory throughout the week. We started the activity with a lot of tension in thought and activity before we allowed transformation to take place. The first bit of tension started when I was paired with someone that I did not know and have yet to work with in any capacity. The goal was to create a learning plan together, and I knew nothing about my partners learning style, educational background, or experience with learning plans. While this may not seem like it is pertinent to Activity Theory, the act of creating a learning plan individually would not have added tension. By working with a new partner (or any partner in general) there was tension around what collaboration would look like and how it would take place.
Transformation around our learning plan finally took place when we scheduled a time to meet (virtually). We had a genuine conversation and we were able to truly listen to one another and determine a learning plan that fit our different learning styles.
Activity Theory takes place when learning occurs for the whole of an individual within the whole of society within the whole of the context. For this experience, the context was NOT Prezi itself, the context was creating a learning plan. Prezi is a tool that I use seldom. I do not see a strong need for Prezi in our current educational climate as it focuses on direct instruction and minimal collaboration. Regardless of my belief about Prezi, the context of this activity was around learning plans. To truly engage in a deeper understanding about activity theory I needed to start with the whole of an individual. What is my true understanding of learning plans? What is my partners understanding of learning plans? This is a step that both my partner and I did not dive into. We touched it on the surface and left it at a very surface understanding.
Genuinely taking the time for both my partner and I to ask ourselves what we believe to be true about learning plans would have allowed both my partner and I to go deeper into the project. By gaining a true understanding of learning theories and asking each other questions, we could have looked at learning plans from a societal view. How does society (typically our professions) impact our understanding of learning plans? How does society play a role in our general work in collaborative settings? Taking the time to ask these questions of ourselves and each other would have allowed us to dive deeper into the content.
Engaging students in Activity Theory allows students to get out of their comfort zone and understand content on a deeper level. For students, we (educators) need to guide their work in the Activity Theory. Ask tough questions and allow for tension in learning. Students are capable of pushing through barriers if they can see that their is a bigger picture outcome.
MORE SOCIAL LEARNING: http://youtu.be/aL_3qrSZBJ4