Mobile computing in work-integrated learning : problems of remotely-distributed activities and technology use
Recently, the continuing digitalisation of our social and analogue lives has assumed a new dimension. This dimension has resulted from of the introduction of portable information and communication technologies (ICTs) - notably mobile phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), laptop computers, smart phones and tablet computers - whose physical, instrumental and functional properties provide opportunities for mobility of interaction, information processing, learning and work. A parallel development along this dimension is the contemporary remote distribution of erstwhile-localised human activities, subsuming some dissolution of distance and time boundaries by portable ICTs. This is a dissertation about the problems of remotely-distributed activities and technology use, in general; and specifically about the mutual shaping between remotely-distributed work-integrated learning and mobile computing. The study is underpinned by a developmental psychology perspective to purposeful human activities being seen as processes which are mediated by psychological and physical tools. It explores this mutual shaping by addressing related parameters such as motives, mobility, power, control, distribution and mobile computing. The aim is to unearth an understanding of how this mobilisation of technology, humans and mobile computing shape each other within the framework of purposeful mobilised activities. The analysis carried out after an in-depth theoretical and empirical study of these relationships reveal the following: a paradoxical relationship between human mobility and flexible computing; a high tendency for ICT users to reconstruct portable artefacts based on a drift in utility between the satisfaction of objective and personal motives; power relations between remotely-separated authorities of an activity translate into control of workers' or learners' actions (including computing actions) and contribute to reconstruction of artefacts. Based on these findings, this dissertation makes a theoretical contribution through the proposal of an action-based model of remotely-distributed activity that can be drawn upon to analyse computing in contemporary technology-mediated distribution of work and learning.