DIP: Community Knowledge Construction in the Instrumented Classroom

PIs: Thomas Moher, James Slotta, Joel Brown
University of Illinois at Chicago
Award Details

In this Cyberlearning: Transforming Education DIP (Development and Implementation) project, the PIs are addressing challenges of knowledge community pedagogy, where students are given a high level of agency and responsibility for developing questions, exchanging and critiquing ideas with peers, and advancing collective understanding. The project addresses four main challenges in supporting such pedagogy: (1) making student ideas visible and accessible, (2) supporting discourse and knowledge building with digital posters and other summative representations, (3) scaffolding complex collaborative inquiry through technology, and (4) supporting a sense of collective epistemology. Knowledge building is well researched from a conceptual perspective; until now, however, there has not been a concerted effort to develop technological infrastructure that would support its pedagogy well. In a series of design-oriented studies, researchers are working together with veteran teachers to co-design elementary biology curriculum that takes a knowledge community approach, develop the suite of tools, and carry out research investigating ways of sustaining a knowledge community pedagogy over long periods of time.

Scholars have argued that the demands of a “knowledge society” require new models of collaborative and inquiry-oriented learning that engage learners in sustained investigations and promote agency and autonomy. Several sophisticated pedagogical approaches have been developed to achieve these goals, but up until now, the technological infrastructure for supporting teachers and students in such approaches has not been at the same level of sophistication as the pedagogical approaches themselves. This proposal aims to narrow that gap through design of a suite of hardware and software tools that supports representing personal and collective knowledge in both private and public forms, tangible and embodied interactions as well as verbal interactions, and the orchestration of activities. The aims are to support student work and meta-cognition, provide to teachers the supports they need to carry out the pedagogies, and to examine the interactions between teacher, students, technology, and pedagogy that lead to sustained agency and community engagement among learners.

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