Jun 012012

Authors: Idalisa Cingolani, Christine Hamel, & Stefano Cacciamani

Many studies evidence in on-line environments the “lurking” phenomenon (Nonnecke & Preece, 2001): some members of the group that generally tends to read notes of the others, but do not write anything. In their review of the Internet as a form of mass media, Morris and Ogan (1996) point out the paucity of information on lurkers. They ask the following questions about lurkers, their number, and their nature: “To what extent do lurkers resemble the more passive audience of television sitcoms? And why do they remain lurkers and not also become information providers? Is there something about the nature of the online activity that can stimulate their participation?”

We can explore these questions considering the implementation of the Knowledge Building Community model (KBC hereinafter) (Scardamalia, 2002) at school. The “modus operandi” of a KBC foresees that the students realize a process of knowledge building mediated by the activities of reading and writing. The KBC model (Scardamalia, 2002; Scardamalia & Bereiter, 2006), in fact, is focused not on learning but on knowledge building: it means, both on the creation and the development of ideas that are useful for the whole community, learning is a by-product of this process. In connection with the theoretical model also an online environment, called Knowledge Forum (KF hereinafter), was developed. Many research results about the implementation of the KBC model in classroom show positive outcomes from educational point of view, in writing and reading and showed no deficit in other areas. The students also show more sophisticated understandings about knowledge and learning (Scardamalia et al. 1994). Young students working in a KB perspective generated theories and explanation-seeking questions, designed experiments to produce real-world empirical data to support their theories, located and introduced expert resources, revised ideas, and responded to problems and ideas that emerged as community knowledge evolved (Zhang, Scardamalia, Lamon, Messina & Reeve, 2006)

In a KBC, then, we can expect that reading and writing are correlated activities because the process of collaborative knowledge building demands that writers reads also other people’s notes, (to be able to elaborate on ideas in relation with the other members of the community. Is this happens really or reading and writing are independent activities, going therefore to create a phenomenon of lurking? This is the question on which the present study is focused.
Link to Final Version