ZPD: Scaffolding Through Technology

Another theory that I will be using in my thesis is the Vygotsky concept of the zone of proximal development.

The Zone of Proximal Development refers to the difference between what a learner can achieve without help and what a learner can achieve with help (Vygotsky, 1979).

The term scaffolding is commonly linked with ZPD and can be described as the support provided to a learner to help them complete tasks that they would not be able to achieve on their own (Bruner 1978).  Typically I think most would associate the term scaffolding with the help or guidance a learner receives from a teacher or more competent peer. However, what if we substituted this peer or teacher with technology?  Does scaffolding have to be person-person?  Can technology be used as effective scaffolding ?

One study published by my mentor Dr Jia Li stated that scaffolding provided through digital technologies can contribute to both vocabulary acquisition and reading comprehension (Li, 2010). This will be an important focus in my thesis as well as in the line of study I plan on pursuing once I finish the AEDT program.

I am finding that the more I read about technology and language learning the more the subject of mobile assisted language learning appeals to me.  I may even take some mobile programming courses over the summer to pursue this discipline further.


Bruner, J. (1978). The role of dialogue in language acquisition.

Li, J. (2010). Learning vocabulary via computer-assisted scaffolding for text processing. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 23(3), 253-275.

Vygotsky., L. (1979). : Mind In Society: The Development Of Higher Psychological Processes . American Anthropologist, 81(4), 956-957.