Debra Piecka

Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 2008


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Instructional Technology (EdDIT)


School of Education

Committee Chair

James B. Schreiber

Committee Member

Rodney K. Hopson

Committee Member

Connie M. Moss


interactive videoconferencing, sociocultural theory, meaning making, early childhood education, qualitative research, ethnography


The research investigated how kindergartners make meaning using interactive videoconferencing. The study explored two research questions: 1) What types of meanings are being formed by the kindergartners during interactive videoconferences and, 2) What are the nature of young children's emerging inquiries and dialogue surrounding their use of interactive videoconferencing in their classroom? The study embodied a Vygotskian perspective as the theoretical framework in order to meet demands associated with the young participants' vulnerability, developmental appropriateness, and the students' interactive learning environment. Employing an ethnographic, participant observation methodology, the research design was informed by three criteria: 1) a pilot study, 2) Miles and Huberman's (1994a) recurring themes in qualitative data analysis, and 3) literature review results emphasizing the nuances of contemporary culture. Field observation occurred from October 2007 through February 2008 in a Southwestern Pennsylvania kindergarten classroom. Students participated in 7 videoconferences with distant peers or content experts. Data from a gingerbread and puppetry videoconference and an astronomy program were selected for further analysis based on their ability to illustrate poignant examples of how the kindergartners formed meaning during collaborations. Data analysis procedures involved the importing of dialogue from videoconferencing transcriptions, field notes, and other artifacts into the ATLAS.ti qualitative data analysis software for open coding, data display, and grounded theory development.

Results developed from open coding and concept maps in ATLAS.ti informed the following theory development. First, learning with interactive videoconferencing in kindergarten supports meaning making from four Vygotskian tenets: 1) the social origins of learning, 2) sign and tool use through mediated activity, 3) the importance of language, and 4) support for the zone of proximal development. Additionally, the students' meaning making involved the tenets' entwinement rather than the solitary occurrence of individual tenets. Regarding the kindergartners' emerging inquiries, during sustained interactive videoconferencing levels, children's inquiries and dialogue evidenced exploratory talk that was purposeful, reflective and self-directed. It also indicated comfort with the technology. This study is unique in its multidisciplinary application of Vygotskian learning theory to kindergartners' meaning making with videoconferencing and provides a foundation for extended use of qualitative methods to examine young children's' learning with technology.