Turns, sequences, and inscriptions : investigating representational practice in a semiotic-rich online environment

Medina, Richard Anthony
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [August 2013]
The study of representational practice in mediated environments is becoming increasingly relevant to our understanding of how collaborative meaning making processes are supported (or not) by technology affordances. The current work presents an empirical analysis of how a small group of participants developed technology mediated representational practices over a four-day period while meeting in an online whiteboard/chat environment. The central issue taken up in the study is the alignment between the participants' appropriation of technology affordances for mutability and their in-situ multimodal interaction. There were three research objectives: (1) How are inscriptional media appropriated in technology mediated interactions, (2) How are observed interactional practices aligned with the appropriation of technology affordances for mutability, and (3) How interactional practices influence successive situated activity in semiotic rich environments and support the development of representational practices. A sequential microanalysis approach based on principles, concepts, and techniques from conversation analysis was used to examine chat log transcripts and screen recordings of interaction in all four meetings. The results of the analysis identified a strong alignment between the participants' interactional organization and two repeatedly invoked representational practices for handling multiple but related geometric problems. The findings illustrate the contingency of these practices and their development to multimodal affordances for constructing, manipulating, and referencing inscriptions. An unexpected finding indicated that participants established and maintained multiple sequential interaction orders for their work. These different sequence organizations were partly attributed to the multimodal design and semiotic-richness of the online technology. The findings contribute to an existing body of practice-based studies of online learning by providing empirical evidence for the efficacy of modal rich but modifiable interactive media in learning technologies. In addition, the identification of multiple sequential interactional orders suggests a new point of inquiry into the study of technology affordances for intersubjective meaning making and the development of representational practices over time.
Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2013.
Includes bibliographical references.
in-situ multimodal interaction
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