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Zone of Proximal Development and Scaffolding Online

Zone of Proximal Development and Scaffolding Online
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Author(s): Carol M. Lerch (Daniel Webster College, USA), Andrea R. Bilics (Worcester State College, USA) and Binta Colley (The City University of New York, USA)
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 6
Source title: Encyclopedia of Distance Learning, Second Edition
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Patricia L. Rogers (Bemidji State University, USA), Gary A. Berg (California State University Channel Islands (Retired), USA), Judith V. Boettcher (Designing for Learning, USA), Caroline Howard (HC Consulting, USA), Lorraine Justice (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong) and Karen D. Schenk (K. D. Schenk and Associates Consulting, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch351


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While developing our courses, we realized the importance of the zone of proximal development (Vygotsky, 1978) in supporting our students. Learners’ experiences and backgrounds influence the learning process by bringing together the current learning situation with their individual social and historical backgrounds. Vygotsky (1978) defined the zone of proximal development (ZPD) as “the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers” (p. 86). Learners move from needing constant assistance to becoming knowledgeable participants who at times may need to review previous learning. Each student has the potential to provide needed scaffolding for others in the group by becoming the knowledgeable other in appropriate situations. This shared power based on “levels of understanding” (Driscoll, 1994) allows the learners to achieve a state of intersubjectivity.

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