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Activity theory and interaction design


Status Archive
School Nationell Forskarskola i Kognitionsvetenskap (SweCog)
Owner Annika Silvervarg
Homepage http://www.swecog.se/tidigareaktiviteter.shtml

The course is given by Umeå university and will require travels to Umeå. Se preliminary schedule.

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Course plan


This course will introduce participants to activity theory, a conceptual approach originated by the Russian psychologists Vygotsky, Rubinshtein, Leontiev and others. In recent decades activity theory has been attracting considerable attention as a potential theoretical foundation for research in interaction design, (IxD), Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) and Computer Support for Collaborative Learning (CSCL). Activity theory considers computers as mediating artifacts that support human activities. Therefore, understanding how to design, evaluate, implement, or customize a technology can be achieved through understanding the human activities supported by the technology and how the technology is integrated into these activities. Activity theory provides a broad conceptual framework for describing the structure, development, and context of computer-supported activities.

The course participants are expected to learn:
• basic principles of and selected applications of activity theory,
• how to apply activity theory as a theoretical lens in interaction design research and practice, and
• where activity theory is situated with respect to other theories.


The course covers the following topics:
• The origins, key concepts, and basic principles of Leontiev’s activity theory
• Historical currents and current perspectives in activity theory
• Activity-theoretical approaches in analysis and design of interactive technologies
• Activity theory and some other “post-cognitivist” frameworks

Organisation and Schedule (preliminary)

March 22, 2010, Umeå
10:15 - 11:00 Course introduction
11:15 - 12:00 Lecture. Introduction to Activity theory. Part I
Lunch Break
13:15 – 14:00 Group work//Seminar
14:15 – 15:00 Lecture. Introduction to Activity theory. Part II
15:15 – 16:00 Group work//Seminar

April 5, 2010, Umeå
10:15 - 11:00 Planning students’ work on course papers
11:15 - 12:00 Interaction design research informed by activity theory
Lunch Break
13:15 – 14:00 Group work//Seminar
14:15 – 15:00 Activity theory-based analytical tools
15:15 – 16:00 Group work//Seminar

April 6, 2010, Umeå
10:15 - 11:00 Activity-centric computing
11:15 - 12:00 Group work//Seminar
Lunch Break
13:15 – 14:00 Activity theory and other post-cognitivist frameworks
14:15 – 15:00 Group work//Seminar
15:15 – 16:00 General discussion

7 May, Umeå (In conjunction with SweCog conference)
10:15 – 12:00 Presentation of students' work. Part I.
Lunch Break
13:15 – 16:00 Presentation of students' work. Part II.


Individual course papers
Seminar participation


Victor Kaptelinin, Umeå University


Kaptelinin, V. and Nardi, B. Acting with Technology: Activity Theory and Interaction Design. The MIT Press, 2006.

Selected articles (a list of references will be provided in the beginning of the course).

Page responsible: Director of Graduate Studies
Last updated: 2012-05-03