Knowledge Building Infrastructures

By Bodong Chen in software

January 1, 2022

Knowledge Building (KB) as a distinct educational approach engages students in producing and improving ideas to solve authentic problems. It is synonymous with knowledge creation that is discussed in organizational settings (Bereiter & Scardamalia, 2014). Similar to a team of knowledge workers, students work as a collective to produce something new and of interest to the collective. Designs – both pedagogical and technological – are put in place to empower students’ epistemic agency, so that they could focus on improving ideas (vs. performing tasks), collaborate with each other (vs. focus on individual performance), see the big picture of their work (vs. finish small tasks assigned to them), and make high-level decisions (vs. outsourcing the decisions to an adult). In essence, the way students approach knowledge is very much in line with that in a research team, even though students (and the teacher) also need to meet curricular goals defined by relevant educational regimes.

Students in KB classrooms face the same challenge as knowledge workers when they have put extensive effort in an area leading to a complex idea landscape. Students need a better infrastructure for knowledge building in their community.

At a minimum, the notion of infrastructure interweaves theoretical, pedagogical, and technological ideas in Knowledge Building together and (re)focus the discussion on each student’s relations with the infrastructure. It reveals different relations between humans and infrastructures (such as contributing to collective work and celebrating individual growths) to be looked at, instead of being looked through; it brings out the relations held by different human agents (students, teachers) with knowledge infrastructures for dialogues; it connects challenges that are often dealt with in silos (such as UI design, teacher PD, student assessment) so that they could be looked at together and advanced in tandem.