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Integrating pedagogies

Research Leads

Marlene Scardamalia (University of Toronto), John Rinderle (Carnegie Mellon University)

What is it?

In this project strand we are layering Open Learning Initiative (OLI) courses with an open discourse environment - Knowledge Forum (KF) - developed at the University of Toronto, to encourage collaborative knowledge building.  Traditionally, a learner using an OLI course in an informal setting works independently, supported by frequent opportunities for practice and guided by targeted hints and feedback.  With KF, learners interact within a shared social space using tools designed to help structure and organise their ideas.  Learners in the blended OLI/KF environment collaborative in virtual cohort groups to modify and extend each other's ideas, creating public knowledge, thereby transforming and extending the OER and building a community of support.

We are examining and relating data from the frequent assessment opportunities in the OLI course with the semantic space and social network connections formed by the knowledge building discourse.  We are exploring ways these data can be used to provide feedback to students, instructors and course designers to influence achievement of desired learning outcomes.

Research questions

  • How do we effectively combine the individual learner pedagogy of OLI with the group learning pedagogy of Knowledge Forum?  How do we introduce educators and learners to knowledge building and assist them in incorporating social learning into their hybrid use of OLI?
  • How can we measure group knowledge construction and assess its effect on individual learners?  How do we relate actions in the knowledge building enviornment to outcomes from the practice opportunities in OLI?  How can we feed this information back to instructors and learners in meaningful, actionable ways which promote learning?
  • If the combined OLI/KF environment enhances learning for a few students, do their contributions to the collaborative space enhance the work of the group?  How can we assess growth and spread of ideas?
  • Can we use knowledge building to better support unaffiliated, individual learners utilizing the OLI OER by creating knowledge building communities around their use?  Can we keep ideas alive and improving in a worldwide open community?

Progress to date

A new implementation of the Knowledge Forum tool has been developed that addresses the technical and usability barriers to a rich integration with the OLI environment and provides a framework for exploring the artefacts of discourse for research and instructor feedback.  A usability evaluation of the new Knowledge Forum tool has been performed to identify and address human computer interaction issues and optimize the user interface for the learner.

An instructor manual and getting started guide has been drafted to provide a scaffold for new instructors and students in the activity of knowledge building.  A reporting tool for instructors was created to assess the participation and contributions to the discourse space by individual learners.

The following methods for evaluating discourse were identified for use in an upcoming pilot study: the community inquiry model (Garrison, Anderson and Archer 2001), the interaction analysis model (Gunawardena, Low and Anderson 1997), latent semantic analysis, clustering algorithms, social network analysis, etc.

The semantic space of the OLI statistics course were analyzed to explore the relationship between concepts and themes occurring in discourse, topics and locations in the OLI course, relating student contributions in each.

The project team are working with community college instructors to develop learning activities for the combined OLI/KF environment.  Through this process the team are refining the environment and support materials to better address the needs of community college educators and learners.

A team from the University of Hong Kong is also contributing to the design and development of the new tool.