Citekey: @scardamalia2006

Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. (2006). Knowledge building: Theory, pedagogy, and technology. In R. K. Sawyer (Ed.), The Cambridge handbook of the learning sciences (pp. 97–115). Cambridge University Press.


From Computer Supported Intentional Learning to Knowledge Building Environments

::Many characteristics of classroom life conspire to discourage intentional learning (Scardamalia & Bereiter, 1996), but a key factor seems to be the structure of classroom communication, in which the teacher serves as the hub through which all information passes. Altering that information flow was one of our goals when we designed the software application we called CSILE::—Computer Supported Intentional Learning Environments— first used in early prototype version in 1983 in a university course, more fully implemented in 1986 in an elementary school (Scardamalia, Bereiter, McLean, Swallow, and Woodruff, 1989).

::Another motive guiding the design of CSILE was a belief that students themselves represented a resource that was largely wasted and that could be brought into play through network technology (Scardamalia & Bereiter, 1991).:: Classroom work with CSILE proved this to be true beyond anything we had imagined. The classroom, as a community, could indeed have a mental life that is not just the aggregate of individual mental lives but something that provides a rich context within which those individual mental lives take on new value. ::CSILE restructured the flow of information in the classroom, so that questions, ideas, criticisms, suggestions, and the like were contributed to a public space equally accessible to all, instead of it all passing through the teacher or (as in e-mail) passing as messages between individual students.:: By linking these contributions, students created an emergent hypertext that represented the collective rather than only the individual knowledge of the participants. We introduced epistemological markers (“My theory,” “I need to understand,” “New information,” and so on), through “thinking types” that could be integrated into the text of notes, as students chose, to encourage metadiscourse as well as discourse focused on the substantive issues under investigation.

::By the 1990s the idea of knowledge building as the collaborative creation of public knowledge had assumed ascendancy, with individual learning as an important and demonstrable by-product (Scardamalia, Bereiter, & Lamon, 1994). In this light, we undertook a major redesign of CSILE to boost it as an environment for objectifying ideas and their interrelationships and to support collaborative work aimed at improving ideas.::

::The next generation of CSILE, called Knowledge Forum®, provides a knowledge building environment for communities (classrooms, service and health organizations, businesses, and so forth) to carry on the sociocognitive practices described above— practices that are constitutive of knowledgeand innovationcreating organizations.:: This is a continuing challenge; Knowledge Forum undergoes continual revision as theory advances and experience uncovers new problems and opportunities.

Although communities based on shared interests do develop in some threaded discussion forums, this technology [threaded discussion] provides little means for a group to organize its efforts around a common goal.

Thus the database itself is an emergent, representing at different stages in its development the advancing knowledge of the community. ::From the users’ standpoint, the main constituents of a Knowledge Forum database are notes and views. A view is an organizing background for notes. It may be a concept map, a diagram, a scene—anything that visually adds structure and meaning to the notes whose icons appear in it. Notes are contributed to views and may be moved about to create organization within views. The same notes may appear in more than one view.::

Wherever one is in a Knowledge Forum database, it is always possible to ::move downward, producing a lower-level note, comment, or subview; ::upward, producing a more inclusive note or a view of views; and sideways, linking views to views or linking notes in different views. Notes themselves may contain graphics, animations, movies, links to other applications and applets, and so on.

::Knowledge Forum lends itself to a high level of what we call “epistemic agency” (Scardamalia, 2000).::

Forum provides “scaffolds” to help shape discourse to knowledge building purposes—for instance, a set of theory-building scaffolds that include “My theory,” “New information,” “This theory explains,” and “This theory cannot explain.”

::We designed Knowledge Forum not simply as a tool, but as a knowledge building environment—that is, as a virtual space within which the main work of a knowledge building group would take place (Scardamalia, 2003).

Knowledge Forum is where the main work takes place. It is where the “state of knowledge” materializes, takes shape, and advances. It is where the results of the various off-line activities contribute to the overall effort. ::

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Bodong Chen, University of Minnesota

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