2010 Knowledge Building Summer Institute: New Assessments and Environments for Knowledge Building. August 3-6, 2010 - Toronto, Canada

The Recommend Button: An Experimental Support for the Identification of
Valuable Ideas in a Knowledge Building Community

Jim Hewitt & Clare Brett


People in a knowledge building community are often faced with the problem of drawing communal attention to notes that contain promising ideas. To facilitate this process, we added a new software feature: a “Recommend” button. Clicking on this button suggests that the note’s subject matter is worthy of deeper analysis by the community. The more people that “recommend” a particular note, the brighter its associated icon becomes. This new facility was first tested in two graduate-level distance courses. Our analyses suggest that “Recommend” is effective as a device for drawing attention to particular notes. We also found evidence that the button offers certain community-building advantages; the authors of recommended notes feel their ideas are appreciated and valued by their peers. However, we also discovered that some students were wary about recommending notes, fearing that it would hurt their own course grade by elevating other students in the eyes of the teacher.
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