Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Learning

First Committee Member

Steven McCafferty

Second Committee Member

Kenneth Varner

Third Committee Member

Steve Bickmore

Fourth Committee Member

LeAnn Putney

Number of Pages



The purpose of this eight-week study was to analyze how a multi-age primary community utilized the technology available to them from an activity theoretical perspective. In addition, it was aimed at exploring how the technology provided opportunities for second language development. The study relied on Cultural Historical Theory (CHAT) and mainstream sociocultural perspectives that originated from Vygotsky’s work, further developed by SCT theorists. This dissertation employed qualitative methodology, including in-depth interviews with members of the multi-age community: the five educators, the lead administrator, and the Educational Computing Consultant (ECS), and observations and field notes. Digital data (which included videos and photos) collected by student-participants, entries from hard-backed paper journals places in each of the five classrooms, and artifacts from the school wiki were included as well. Significantly, formal interviews with student-participants did not occur as they became self-proclaimed student-researchers in the study. These data collection tools were employed to explore the use of digital tools in learning in the MAC and how these tools mediated second language development.

The data were analyzed and discussed from a CHAT perspective, examining the components of the Activity System (AS): the rules, the object, the division of labor, the mediating tools, and the outcomes, as well as sociocultural constructs. Findings revealed the use of digital tools in learning was embedded throughout the AS providing propitious opportunities for second language development and, indeed, for learning across the curriculum.

The data collected revealed that digital tools were ubiquitous and embedded in all aspects of learning in the MAC activity system. Participants used these tools as individuals use any tool, pens, pencils, books, and dictionaries, in purposeful, intentional activity in the mediation of learning, specifically in second language development.

The data also revealed that the four interacting components of the MAC AS prioritized a multivocality in the community that was formed by all the participants within the community in activity. Consistent collaboration and cooperation in this multivocalic system resulted in the formation of a collective ZPD, creating a positive, emotional experience, which fostered a confidence by inclusion in the community, that engendered competence, offered opportunities for second language development, and facilitated creativity.

Finally, the data revealed that the convergence of situated, common rules, objects, division of labor, outcomes, and mediating tools that construct the conditions of activity can be significantly altered when the integrity of the system, like the integrity of any intentionally designed structure, is compromised.


Activity Theory; Call; Computer supported collaborative work; Digital tools; Human-computer interaction; Second language development


Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Education

File Format


File Size


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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