An activity theoretical analysis of microblogging and blogging by Spanish L2 learners in a bridging activities framework
The use of blogging tools in the second language classroom has been investigated from a variety of theoretical and methodological perspectives (Alm, 2009; Armstrong & Retterer, 2008; Dippold, 2009; Ducate & Lomicka, 2008; Elola & Oskoz, 2008; Jauregi & Banados, 2008; Lee, 2009; Petersen, Divitini, & Chabert, 2008; Pinkman, 2005; Raith, 2009; Soares, 2008; Sun, 2009, 2012; Vurdien, 2011; Yang, 2009) and a growing number of studies examine the use of microblogging tools for language learning (Antenos-Conforti, 2009; Borau, Ullrich, Feng, & Shen, 2009; Lomicka & Lord, 2011; Perifanou, 2009). Grounded in Cultural Historical Activity Theory (Engestrom, 1987), the present study explores the outcomes of a semester-long project based on the Bridging Activities framework (Thorne & Reinhardt, 2008) and implemented in an intermediate hybrid Spanish-language course at a large public university in Arizona, in which students used microblogging and blogging tools to collect digital texts, analyze perspectives of the target culture, and participate as part of an online community of language learners with a broader audience of native speakers. The research questions are: (1) What technology is used by the students, with what frequency and for what purposes in both English and Spanish prior to beginning the project?, (2) What are students' values and attitudes toward using Twitter and Blogger as tools for learning Spanish and how do they change over time through their use in the project during the semester course?, and (3) What tensions emerge in the activity systems of the intermediate Spanish-language students throughout the process of using Twitter and Blogger for the project? What are the underlying reasons for the tensions? How are they resolved? The data was collected using pre-, post-, and periodic surveys, which included Likert and open-ended questions, as well as the participants' microblog and blog posts. The quantitative data was analyzed using descriptive statistics and the qualitative data was analyzed to identify emerging themes following the Constant Comparative Method (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). Finally, three participant outliers were selected as case studies for activity theoretical analysis in order to identify tensions and, through their resolution, evidence of expansive learning.