Divisions of labor in school and in the workplace: Comparing computer and paper-supported activities across settings

Reed R. Stevens*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study uses the concept of division of labor to investigate the comparative uses of media in 2 organizational settings (a middle school classroom and a professional architecture firm). In both settings, participants used both computer and paper-based media in architectural project work. This study found that, in both settings, collaborative labor was divided between designers who worked on paper and draftspersons who worked with computers. The analysis compares the origins of these divisions of labor and finds important similarities in the reasons for the divisions of labor and important differences in the implications of the divisions of labor for participants. The analysis links the similarities to the comparative affordances of different media for supporting collaboration and links the differences to how the 2 environments differently evaluated its participants as individuals and as members of a group. Technology is never purely technological: it is also social. The social is never purely social: it is technological. This is something easy to say but difficult to work with. So much of our language and so many of our practices reflect a determined, culturally ingrained propensity to treat the two as if they were quite separate from one another.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)373-401
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of the Learning Sciences
Volume9
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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