Open and Distance Learner Engagement with Online Mediation Tools: An Activity Theory Analysis

Judy Corinne Noeline Pullenayegem, K. Radhika M. De Silva, Buddhini Gayathri Jayatilleke


This paper presents the results of a study conducted to ascertain the extent to which participants studying in an open and distance learning context utilized the mediation tools provided in an Advanced Writing Skills course, conducted in a blended-learning mode in Sri Lanka. Sixty-four participants engaged in the online component of the writing course using the Process Approach. The course consisted of seven sessions; four addressing the stages of the Process Approach to writing an essay, and three practice sessions. Data were gathered from log-files of the Learning Management System, questionnaires, and interviews related to five mediation tools provided to learners. The data were analyzed utilizing Engeström’s activity theory framework (1987); with focus on the contradictions that emerged in the use of each tool. First, the contradictions that emerged in participants’ engagement with the tools is presented, secondly, the factors that need to be taken into account to ensure greater engagement.


Mediation tools; Activity Theory; Contradictions; Open and Distance learning; Advanced writing skills; Blended-learning

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