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Blending face-to-face and online problem-based learning environments presents opportunities for both learners and lecturers to take part in collaborative knowledge construction. Activity theory is a suitable framework to investigate such environments and the learning processes that both sets of participants experience when engaging in these complementary environments. This paper attempts to map out the potential for activity systems using a blended problem-based learning approach through the exploration of an accredited academic staff development programme in Ireland. Firstly, an analysis of tool use and the discourse that participants and tutors engage in is presented. Secondly, tutor reflections about the evolution of the group’s collaborative practices is explored, including issues such as the locus of control (changing role of tutor and students) within blended PBL tutorials, alongside the matter of whether ultimately combining new innovative technologies with pedagogies such as problem-based learning can be used to engage students' curiosity and initiate learning the subject matter. It is argued that designers and tutors should direct its focus away from organisation of content and towards design of activities, and facilitation should acknowledge the cultural, historical and technological influences that shape complex human activity in blended problem-based learning.
Donnelly, R. (2008). Activity Systems Within Blended Problem-Based Learning in Academic Professional Development. International Journal of Applied Educational Studies, 3, 1, pp.38-59.