Building Knowledge through the Cyber space

Building Knowledge through the Cyber space

Jianwei Zhang, Jingping Chen
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0315-8.ch032
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Knowledge building refers to social and collaborative processes to advance knowledge and ideas of value to a community, with individual learning and growth of members as an important by-product. Cyber environments to support knowledge building (e.g. Knowledge Forum) provide networked knowledge spaces where members contribute ideas and continually improve the ideas through collaborative discourse and other inquiry activities. Research on knowledge building using cyber environments sheds light on socio-cognitive and cultural dynamics underpinning knowledge building and technology-based designs to support such dynamics. In the context of education, research results demonstrate the possibility and benefits of engaging students in knowledge building early on to develop deep understanding in core subject areas and high-order competencies that are essential to 21st century careers.
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Research on knowledge building stemmed from an early focus on supporting intentional learning and expertise of individuals and has evolved to an emphasis on social production and advancement of collective knowledge. This change in focus has important implications to the design and use of computer-based environments to support collaborative learning and knowledge work.

In 1980’s, Bereiter and Scardamalia proposed “intentional learning” as an intermediate concept in an attempt to loosen “knowledge building” from “learning.” Intentional learning is defined as cognitive processes that have learning as a goal instead of an incidental outcome, and a matter of having life goals that include a personal agenda of learning, more than “active” or “self-regulated” learning (Bereiter & Scardamalia, 1989). To promote intentional learning, a computer software tool named “Computer Supported Intentional Learning Environment” (CSILE) was designed and implemented in education (Scardamalia et al., 1989). CSILE was first prototyped in 1983 and initially used in university and graduate classrooms. Given its positive results in encouraging students to think more about their learning process, a networked version was then developed and used in an elementary school in 1986. At that time, CSILE was designed to support intentional learning by providing a means for students to build a collective database of their thoughts in the form of pictures and written notes. Supporting tools allow students to edit, label, and organize their notes. Epistemological markers, such as “My theory,” “I need to understand,” “New information,” and so forth are integrated into the text of notes to encourage intentional discourse contributions focused on substantive issues under investigation. The shared space provided by CSILE serves to change teacher-centered communication flow in classrooms so that all information and resources (e.g., questions, ideas, criticisms, and suggestions) are contributed to a public space equally accessible to all. This perspective on collaborative, high-order knowledge processes constitutes a conceptual pillar of computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL), a fast developing research field, and is further advanced through knowledge building theory and new generation technologies.

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