I think this might be too much blurring between the legacies of Piaget and Vygotsky. Piaget was an individualist constructivist, Vygotsky was a social constructivist.
Idit Harel's PhD thesis (Software Design for Learning) offers me a clear summary of the similarities and differences between Piaget and Vygotsky.
Piaget emphasises internal, self directed, individualist development:
In order for a child to understand something, he must construct it himself, he must re-invent it. Every time we teach a child something, we keep him from inventing it himself (- Piaget, quoted in McGee, 105. btw McGee is critical of Piaget here)By contrast Vygotsky is more social, people oriented with more emphasis on communication and language. Sometimes speech plays a vital role:
... what the child learns by himself, what none can teach him and he must discover alone (- Piaget, quoted in Harel, 32)
A child's speech is as important as the role of action in attaining any goal ... Speech and action are part of one and the same complex psychological function, directed towards the solution of the problem at hand ... The more complex the action demanded by the situation and the less direct its solution, the greater importance played by speech in the operation as a whole (- Vygotsky, quoted in Harel, 34)Harel goes onto outline the outlook of Vygotskian researchers:
... Vygotskian researchers focus exclusively on the important role and processes of scaffolding (by the use of language), the role of adult mediation in children's learning, or the imitation and internalization processes in children's cognitive growth. These researchers usually do not collect data or describe, even as a possibility, the learner as someone who sometimes acts as a constructive and efficient independent inventor and builder of his own knowledge, without the help of the "scaffolder" adult.What Papert and Harel go onto do with their Instructional Software Design Project is to integrate the ideas of Piaget and Vygotsky into one project.
Papert "objects to think with": the logo turtle (Papert advocated a richer object environment than Piaget)
Vygotskian people to think with: the cross age tutoring situation, classmates, the teacher
Scaffolding can be supplied by rich learning objects as well as people. Maybe the legacies of Piaget and Vygotsky have become blurred because learning theorists have come along after them and integrated their ideas, in a good way? Is there blurring and if so is it a good or bad thing? We now have a new learning theory (Siemen's connectivism) in which learning is seen to occur outside of the learner, which could be a mirror image of the Piaget quotes above. See Inside / Outside.
More information about Vygotsky at wikipedia