Creating a database of book reviews as a computer-mediated activity system (CMAS).

NEERO-1992 (New England Educational Research Organization

Current computer use in CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning) tends to be anthropomorphic. Designed as Tutors, DrillMasters or TaskMasters, computers are agents in learning and teaching. They determine a priori decontextualized learning contents, the learning paths and what constitutes successful performance. Alternatively, an instrumental use of computers in CALL exists where machines both support and create collaborative computer -mediated activity systems (CMAS). Designed as word processors, communication networks or databases, computers thus mediate such activities as the creation of classroom newscasts or local tourist brochures. In this paper I report on computer use in an instrumental mode to create a database of book reviews in a third/fourth grade classroom. Analyses capture communicative functions of language use and the computer literacy tasks recursively called at the operational level of activity. This is to highlight both the acquisition of instrumentality and the mediation of human interactions in learning and teaching in contrast to traditional CALL where the endeavor is to reify the interactivity of computational agents.

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