When I first started teaching technical communication courses online in 2004

at my university, I was primarily concerned with the software, hardware, and

ways to “convert” course content to online delivery (Tesdell, 2004). I approached

online teaching from a technology-driven perspective rather than a pedagogy-

driven perspective (Cargile Cook, 2005). As I look back on that time now,

however, I see that in my online courses, I had in place the components for

an activity system: students; an instructor; tools that included texts, computer

technology, and the Internet; and a shared purpose with my students-creating

technical documents. According to Russell (2003), activity theory

Although I did not think of them that way initially, the actors in our system

are my students and me; our shared tools are the technologies we use to connect

across time and distance.