Source: Journal of Computing in Teacher Education, Volume 25, No. 1, 45-52 . Fall 2008.
Using an activity theory framework, the authors examine how preservice teachers and middle school students utilized instant messaging in educational contexts. They also examine the impact of instant messaging on the development of community among preservice teachers. Qualitative results from six focus groups and two personal interviews indicate that instant messaging enhanced the development of community among the preservice teachers. It also facilitated the breakdown of teacher-student social barriers while being predominantly exploited as a social rather than an academic medium. The instant messaging assignment consisted of three overlapping activity systems that complicated the assignment and created some degree of tension for the teachers. Even though preservice teachers felt uncomfortable being at a peer-to-peer level with students, instant messaging enabled them to build an activity system that can be characterized as a multifaceted learning and knowledge-based community.