The Emerging Learning Design Journal

Document Type



One of the perennial challenges in implementing and designing educational technologies is adapting to local contexts. Activity theory has the potential to address this challenge but has not seen widespread adoption due to its complexity. To address this, I suggest a simplified design heuristic for using activity theory to attend to contextual issues when implementing educational technologies. I then present two examples of this heuristic in use. First, I describe the BeeSign software, which was created to help early elementary students engage in complex systems thinking. Second, I describe the design of an online forum intended to foster authentic problem solving at the graduate level. Together, these examples illustrate the wide-ranging applicability of activity theory for designing and implementing educational technologies.