Ideas First: Exploring Offline Tools to Support Students in Creating and Working with Conceptual Artifacts
Katerine Bielaczyc, Learning Sciences Laboratory, National Institute of Education, & John Ow, Innova Primary School, Singapore
In the Knowledge Building Community (KBC) model of Scardamalia and Bereiter (1991; 1994; Bereiter, 2002; Scardamalia, 2001; 2002; 2004) the intention is to work in ways similar to knowledge creating organizations where the community works together to create social knowledge objects, or “conceptual artifacts.” Bereiter (2002) describes conceptual artifacts in the following way:
One of the key supports for the creation of conceptual artifacts in the KBC model is through the features of the Knowledge Forum software. Knowledge Forum allows learners to construct a communal multimedia knowledge base where different types of Notes consisting of theories and other epistemic constructions can be used to create a collective space of conceptual artifacts.
We have been working for 3.5 years on the project, Ideas First, which is focused on the cultivation of a KBC model in the Primary 3 and 4 science classrooms of a Singaporean school. In order to overcome limited computer access and to provide a transitional path to understanding the principles underlying Knowledge Forum, we have been experimenting with the use of Think Cards. We designed Think Cards as tangible handheld-manipulatives or “tools-to-think-with” that have specific parallels to Knowledge Forum Notes. The intention was to physically reify both the students' ideas and the processes involved in progressively improving those ideas by affording physical creation, exchange, and manipulation of ideas on various types of Think Cards (see Figure 1 below). Such physical reification of both the ideas and processes is meant to bridge to the abstractions involved in understanding ideas as conceptual artifacts created for a knowledge building community. In the poster we provide student work samples from a variety of classrooms and discuss issues raised for both teachers and students concerning the progressive improvement of ideas.
Figure 1. Ideas First Think Cards