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Establishing a scalable network of knowledge building school

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The Centre for Information Technology in Education (CITE), The University of Hong Kong, aims at providing support for the education community in Hong Kong in promoting the use of information technology for quality education. This year, a Quality Education Fund supported project "Establishing a scalable network of knowledge building schools" will be commenced in September. We are currently recruiting more interested primary and secondary schools to join. In 2001-2004, we have launched a research and development project called "Learning Community Projects" (http://lcp.cite.hku.hk). To-date, about 20 schools have been involved at various points during the life of this project. The project has created a lot of interests in both teachers and students, and has demonstrated that the theory about knowledge building and the platform Knowledge ForumR (KF) developed by OISE have led to successes in developing students' collaborative inquiry capacities. These are evident in the very positive responses from the teachers and students in some of the schools involved. In order to further extend the breadth and depth in applying knowledge building approach in teaching, the new QEF project "Establishing a scalable network of knowledge building schools" is building on the existing work and also rises-above of the previous endeavour.

Goals and objectives

  1. To promote and enhance primary and secondary school students' lifelong learning capacities through supporting schools and teachers in integrating computer-supported collaborative knowledge building activities in the school curriculum.
  2. To provide opportunities for local teachers and students to interact with peers around the globe and to participate in collaborative knowledge building activities within and outside of their own classrooms to contribute towards the advancement of knowledge as participants in a global network.
  3. To build up the resources necessary, including two online courses on knowledge building for teachers and students respectively, so as to facilitate effective dissemination of good practices to extend the network of schools engaged in knowledge building after the completion of this project.
  4. To build up an international collaborative learning network and a model for the sustainable integration of computer-supported knowledge building in primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong such that the model for dissemination and support can be transferable to any agency or institution that is interested in providing such support structures.

Implementation plan

The various components of this project will be conducted in close partnership with schools, with the following schedule of key activities:

Stage Time frame Activities
0 Sept 2004 Project preparation
Infrastructural preparation for the project
1 Oct 2004- Apr 2005

Online courses on knowledge building with KF
  1. Face-to-face introductory training workshops for teachers and students
  2. School-based knowledge building activities on KF
  3. Online courses on knowledge building with KF for teachers and students
  4. Virtual meeting for teacher professional development and for student international collaboration purposes
  5. Engagement in action research by teachers
2 May- August 2005
Evaluation, Experience sharing & Dissemination through conference
  1. Evaluation, experience sum-up and dissemination
  2. An interim review conference organized in Hong Kong
3 Sept- Dec 2005
Online courses on knowledge building with KF, building on the work of stage 1 and 2
  1. School-based knowledge building activities on KF
  2. Online courses on knowledge building with KF for teachers and students
  3. Virtual meeting for teacher professional development and for student international collaboration purposes
  4. Engagement in action research by teachers
  5. Establish a model for sustainable integration of computer-supported knowledge building in primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong
4 Jan- Feb 2006 Evaluation, Experience sharing and Dissemination through conferences
  1. Evaluation, experience sum-up and dissemination
  2. A large-scale conference organized in Hong Kong

Characteristics of the project

Apart from the action learning activities like the online courses and the two conferences in Hong Kong to promote knowledge building, researchers and teacher practitioners in the project will also explore and evaluate various evaluation parameters and methods to assess students' cognitive and metacogitive learning outcomes.

In order to encourage students' participation on Knowledge ForumR (KF) and to engage enthusiastically in collaborative learning on the web, the knowledge building goals and topics that students embark on will be closely connected to the formal school curriculum and will be part of the evaluations of students' performance of the subject. First, the tasks assigned by teachers will be aligned with the regular curriculum that the topics to be discussed on the e-platform will directly build on the school lessons but the level of investigation of the online collaboration will be higher. Secondly, though we promote and value school-based knowledge building development, we will create a joint schedule and common framework for schools to start-off the project in KF. Evidence in our previous activities in LCP (http://lcp.cite.hku.hk/Activities) demonstrated that it is easier to trigger and keep up the momentum of students in doing project work when they are working under a common structure organized by an external agent. Thirdly, in order to ignite students' motivation and to define a clear learning target, students are required to share their investigation and findings in the form of peer tutoring with their fellow classmates at the final stage of the project.

Theories of knowledge building

While discussions constitute an important part of collaborative learning and inquiry, not all such discussions are conducive to or characteristic of knowledge building. Scardamalia delineated 12 characteristics as hallmarks of a knowledge building discourse, and these would be referred as knowledge building principles in common understanding. These 12 interrelated but distinguishable principles are: (1) real ideas, authentic problems, (2) improvable ideas, (3) idea diversity, (4) rise above, (5) epistemic agency, (6) community knowledge, collective responsibility, (7) democratizing knowledge, (8) symmetric knowledge advancement, (9) pervasive knowledge building, (10) constructive use of authoritative sources, (11) knowledge building discourse, (12) embedded and transformative assessment. More elucidation and discussion will be carried on in the online courses and virtual meetings of the project.

Knowledge Forum®

Knowledge building can be facilitated by the use of appropriately designed technology platforms to support the collaborative process Knowledge ForumR (KF), a problem-based collaborative knowledge platform, has built-in sophisticated features to provide scaffolding supports for building idea networks and identifying knowledge gaps or advances, provides graphic functionalities for developing multiple perspectives, and offers a variety of ways for collaborative concept maps, supports the viewing of ideas from organizing the discourse among groups to support a complex array of individual and group discussions and development of ideas that constitutes the focus of a knowledge building community at work. The functional design of KF is an embodiment of the knowledge building principles. For information about KF, please visit http://www.knowledgeforum.com

Target and expected number of beneficiaries of the project

More than 15 schools have already indicated their strong interests in partaking in the project. Membership will be extended to more schools with the target of a total of 5-10 primary and 10 to 15 secondary school in the first year. New schools which are interested in joining the project, please can contact lcp@cite.hku.hk

  Acknowledgement:  
   Quality Education Fund (QEF), Research Grants Council (RGC) & University Grants Committee (UGC) 
CITE, Faculty of Education, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong
E-mail: lcp @cite.hku.hk Tel: (852) 28578540 / 22415325 Fax: (852) 25177194
© 2004 Centre for Information Technology in Education, The University of Hong Kong. All rights reserved.