Using Activity Theory to Design Constructivist Online Learning Environments for Higher Order Thinking: A Retrospective Analysis


  • Dirk Morrison



Abstract. This paper examined a particular online learning activity, embedded within a computer supported collaborative learning (CSCL) environment incorporated as part of the larger context of participation in a unique national agricultural leadership development program. Process outcomes such as a high level of collaboration and active peer facilitation as well as demonstration by participants of a variety of holistic thinking skills were observed via a transcript analysis of online interactions. This led to speculations that the particular design features embedded within the context of the online collaborative issues analysis project (IAP), were thought to clearly reflect a constructivist approach. Methods to confirm this included evaluating the learning activity in light of nine characteristics of an authentic task in CSCL environments, and using activity theory as a conceptual framework with which to further examine the extent to which the IAP reflected the values and principles of a constructivist online learning environment.