Apr 242009

link to movieThis video shows a group of grade 5/6 students having a discussion about one of their views in Knowledge Forum. This is what Scardamalia and Bereiter (2008) have to say about this┬ámoment capture in the video: “…When classroom work is organized around ideas, “agency” takes on a different and less easily specifiable meaning. Relevant considerations are (a) the extend to which students’ own ideas are given prominence, (b) the extent to which students take responsibility for improving their ideas and those of their peers, (c) the extend to which students are responsible for connecting their work to the knowledge objectives set forth in official guidelines and standards, and (e) the extent to which organization and management of the whole idea-generating and idea-improvement process are in the hands of the students. Technology can support all these aspects of epistemic agency. Details can be found in Scardamalia (2002) and Scardamalia (2003). Here we will offer just one example: Knowledge Forum views, as described in an earlier section, require management. If a large number of notes are placed in a view, if their arrangement is left to individual whim, and if the graphical background is merely decorative rather than conceptually useful, the result can be distressing clutter. Several teachers have turned the management of each view over to a small committee of students. The teacher encourages them to attend not only to neatness and order but also to designing and managing the view so as to promote knowledge advancement. Students tend to take this role seriously; recorded discussions show them arguing about what to do with redundant notes and how to advance collective goals without trampling over individual sensitivities. This is authentic knowledge management, comparable to what goes on in the business world. It additionally encourages meta-discourse: reviewing ideas, “rising above” first efforts, and creating increasingly coherent conceptual frame-works for knowledge advances…”

Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. (2008). Pedagogical biases in educational technologies. Educational Technologies, XLVIII(3), 3-11.

It is also a great example for the Knowledge Building principle: “Community Knowledge, Collective Responsibility”.

Socio-cognitive dynamics: Contributions to shared, top-level goals of the organization are prized and rewarded as much as individual achievements. Team members produce ideas of value to others and share responsibility for the overall advancement of knowledge in the community.
Technological dynamics: Knowledge Forum’s open, collaborative workspace holds conceptual artifacts that are contributed by community members. Community membership is defined in terms of reading and building-on the notes of others, ensuring that views are informative and helpful for the community, linking views in ways that demonstrate view interrelationships. More generally, effectiveness of the community is gauged by the extent to which all participants share responsibility for the highest levels of the organization’s knowledge work…”

This description was copied from the following book chapter, where you can also find more information about the 12 Knowledge Building Principles:
Scardamalia, M. (2002). Collective cognitive responsibility for the advancement of knowledge. In B. Smith (Ed.) Liberal education in a knowledge society (pp. 67-98). Chicago: Open Court.

Click here to watch a video clip from Carl Bereiter’s comments on this discussion.