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Ben Bachmair. Historical perspective on appropriation as a key term for a socio-cultural ecology and an educational framework for mediated learning The discussion of contexts. How to construct a theoretical frame for mobile learning? .

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ben bachmair
Ben Bachmair

Historical perspective on appropriation

as a key term for a socio-cultural ecology

and an educational framework for mediated learning

The discussion of contexts

how to construct a theoretical frame for mobile learning
How to construct a theoretical frame for mobile learning?

Because of the restricted time of the symposium I am considering just one pathway way through the theoretical field.

I am trying to explain appropriation by correlating

- cultural products, which

(a) are results of meaningful activities within the shifting society’s structures and

(b) form the objective layer of a culture.

- child development.

the poles of appropriation are
The poles of appropriationare

* the pre-given, culturally /socially produced world. It is the ‘product’ pole of the objectified culture, e.g. the alphabet

* child development - the subject pole


The interrelation of child development and and cultural products (“manifestations of the human spirit” Georg W. F. Hegel, 1807) is a theoretical result of the Enlightenment

The German Idealism, mainly Wilhelm v. Humboldt (1767-1835), widened this interrelation to the concept Bildung / formation with appropriation in its centre.

*Child development is constitutively based

*on the appropriation of cultural products and their inherent, objectified social experiences.

*Therefore child development is always in relation to the alienated counterpart of the culturally unknown, which contains the risk to distract from the cultural and personal identity.

What educational questions are relevant on appropriation within the poles of cultural products and child development?

One urgent issue is on

the contexts of

development, learning and mobile media within media convergence

The recent version of the problem is the user generated context discussed among others by Paul Dourish 2004, Rose Luckin et al 2009, John Cook et al 2007.

The pedagogical question was raised with the term of situated learning by Jean Lave, Etienne Wenger 1990

The theoretical target of this presentation is to apply Lew Vygotsky’s concept of the “zone of proximal development” of the 1930s:

*to combine user generated contexts as cultural products

*with child development and

*with learning of the school.


Learning as docking the curriculum to

proximal zones of child develop-



The theoretical basics of appropriation within a “zone of proximal development” were depicted in the 1930s by Lew Vygotsky in the discussion with the young Jean Piaget

Vygotsky, Lew (1986/ 1934). Thought and Language. Edited by Kozulin, Alex. Cambridge, MA. MIT Press

Vygotsky, Lew (1978 / 1930). Mind in Society. The Development of Higher Psychological Processes. Edited by Cole, Michael et al.. Cambridge, MA. Harvard University Press

vygotsky s critique of child development just as an unfolding of inner capacities
Vygotsky’s critique of child development just as an unfolding of inner capacities

Vygotsky criticises of the concept of development in the uprising psychology of child development / the early work of Jean Piaget (1927, 1932, 1933).

Development of “higher psychological functions” was seen by the young Piaget as a process of “unfolding of the child’s organically predetermined system of activities” (Vygotsky 1978/ 1930, p. 55)

critique of socialization as mechanical displacement
Critique of socialization as “mechanical displacement”:

“Theoretically, socialization of thought is seen by Piaget as mechanical abolition of characteristics of the child’s thought … All that is new in development comes from … replacing the child’s own mode of thought. … The entire process of development appears as mechanical displacement of one mentality by the other. The child’s own thinking plays no constructive role in the process, being simply gradually replaced by an adult mode of reasoning.”

(Vygotsky 1986 / 1934, p. 155)

vygotsky s contrasting model child development as
Vygotsky’s contrasting model:child development as

*internalization of the social outside (“social speech) (1978/ 1930, p. 27)

* in the line of the “child’s developmental level”

* within a “zone of proximal development” to the cultural products.

* The main dynamic is assimilation (1986, p 154).

the school s task is to create the zones of proximal development vygotsky 1978 1930 p 90
The school’s task is to “create the zones of proximal development” ( Vygotsky 1978/ 1930, p. 90)
“We [Vygotsky] propose that an essential feature of learning is that

it creates the zone of proximal development;

That is, learning awakens a variety of internal developmental processes;

that are able to operate only when the child is interacting with people in his environment and in cooperation with his peers. Once these processes are internalized, they become part of the child’s independent developmental achievement.”

child development and mobile contexts
Child development and mobile contexts

Mike Sharples et al. (2007; S. 223):

A “central concern must be to understand

how people artfully engage with their surroundings

to create impromptu* sites of learning”.


*Impromptu, a Scheme-based live programming environment; *impromptu is a free-form musical composition with the character of an improvisation, usually for a solo instrument, such as piano.”)

The new cultural forms of mobile and individualised mass communication as “zone of proximal development”

Example for discovering such zones/ contexts

Cyrill’s peer group recorded a mobile video at a railway station.

The boys investigated with a mobile video the German white out drops. The public debate criticised the video on a video platform as provocation, insult and harassment of vulnerable old people

cyrill s video as part of a self generated context
Cyrill’s video as part of a self generated context

Cyrill is a German migrant of the 2nd generation,

18 years old, in opposition to the society’s main stream

Educational options for contexts:Docking at user generated contexts as proximal zones of development (Vygotsky 1930, 1934)

Docking at the interactive context

The peer group of boys in late puberty, during the night, flaneurs looking for cool fun;

Occasional contact(s) to a young right wing German male adult; Nazi symbols

Heavy negative reaction of the regional public and the justice


Docking at the context of media convergence

Cyrill’s confiscated video was part of his web performance among other on the media platform

docking at the context zone options of the socio cultural milieu
Docking at the context /zone options of the socio-cultural milieu

Cyril has a migrant background within the socio-cultural milieu of a hedonistic subculture (Sinus Sociovision): Self idealisation as an underdog, but better than the silly Germans. To investigate the real German underdogs and to have fun.

the context zone options of cyrill s socio cultural milieu in terms of lifestyle and living room
The context / zone options of Cyrill’s socio-cultural milieu in terms of lifestyle and living room

Sinus BC3: Hedonistic-subcultural milieu, Sinus Sociovision 2007: Report Migranten-Milieus, slide 123


developmental zone

of self images and identity


The cultural product of

user generated contexts within the individualised mass communication

can be assimilated by the school for curricular learning tasks

as zone of proximal development

which bridges the poles ‘child development’ and ‘cultural products’ of appropriation.