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Rapid collaborative knowledge building: Lessons learned from two primary science classrooms
Collaborative knowledge building
Distributed cognition
Collaborative learning
Issue Date: 
Paper presented at the 8th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS) 2008, Utrecht, The Netherlands, June 23-28, 2008
Cognizant that a critical 21st century skill is the capacity to do rapid collaborative
knowledge building (RCKB) in a dynamic setting, we are interested to introduce practices for
RCKB into classrooms. Through RCKB, students also have opportunities to learn and articulate
their understanding in a deeper way than traditional classroom lessons. We describe a research
project in which together with teachers, we initiated lesson activities that enact RCKB for
science lessons. Towards that goal, we envisaged 10 principles for RCKB in the design of
lessons, and worked with teachers to co-design lesson plans and apply these principles.
Reporting on our initial pilot study, we document some effects of our intervention package in
terms of traditional and non-traditional assessments of learning gains. We started with 6 weeks
of initiation activities (a.k.a. “Paper Scribbles” or PS sessions) in the classroom using sticky
paper notes, which was followed by another 10 weeks of activities in a school computer
laboratory with the use of the Group Scribbles (GS) software technology. We share our lessons
learned in this study, discuss implications for socio-technical instructional design of successful
rapid knowledge building activities in the classroom, and suggest avenues for improvement and
further research.
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