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  • Dossier “Mathematical e-learning”
  • Open Access

Activity Theory and e-Course Design: An Experience in Discrete Mathematics for Computer Science

RUSC, Universities and Knowledge Society Journal20129:9010320

  • Received: 15 July 2011
  • Accepted: 15 November 2011
  • Published:


The aim of this article is to present a distance e-learning experience of mathematics in higher education. The course is offered as a remedial program for master’s degree students of Computer Science. It was designed to meet the particular needs of the students entering the master’s degree program, as a response to the lack of understanding of logical language which was identified in several previous cohorts of students at CENIDET. The course addresses mathematical abilities of comprehensive functional use of logical language as a basic ability to be developed for later successful participation in the Master of Computer Science and also for later use in professional contexts of Computer Engineering. Eighteen students distributed throughout Mexico volunteered to participate under the guidance of one instructor. The techno-pedagogical design of the course is grounded on two theoretical approaches. Content-related instructional decisions are supported by different concepts of the second generation of Activity Theory. The concept of Orienting Basis of an Action was particularly useful to define the skills the students were expected to develop. Instructional decisions related to the participants’ interaction are underpinned by Slavin’s Team Accelerated Instruction model. We present the course structure in detail and provide some student interaction excerpts in order to illustrate their learning progress.


  • e-learning
  • instructional design
  • higher education
  • discrete mathematics
  • activity theory
  • mathematical abilities