Common Knowledge – Alpha 1

I’ve been working with some of my Encore Lab colleagues to design and develop a tablet-IWB (interactive whiteboard) discourse tool, for the past year and a half.  Our first implementation (May 2011) was a simple application that allowed students to contribute “Inquiry”  and “Idea/Comment” notes from tablets.  These notes (in response to a newspaper article) appeared instantaneously on the classroom’s IWB on a simple chronological T-table with the column headings:  “Inquiry”  and “Idea/Comment”:

The public IWB display’s T-table format seemed too rigid for the way students wanted to interact with each other’s questions and ideas through this tool.  The red annotations in the above image show that students tried to reply directly to each other’s questions, and found a semantic way to get around the technology’s constraints.

To address students’ interaction needs, the next iteration (May 2011) allowed students to add their comments to specific notes that they read from their tablet. In response to the HelioRoom Embedded Phenomena (EP) inquiry activity, students contributed notes related to their observation-based hypotheses identifying the “planets” that were “orbiting” around their classroom. These “Hypotheses” notes appeared on the IWB colour-coded by “planet”, and could be dragged into thematic note clusters on the IWB. Students shared their general wonderings via white “Idea/Question” notes:

To allow for student-tagging of the notes they contribute, our next iteration (autumn 2011) was used in the WallCology EP inquiry unit. This iteration included a set of pre-defined tag words from which students tagged their notes. Instead of using colour-coding to thematically differentiate notes, this IWB display afforded the filtering of notes by “keyword” tag(s):

Our most recent iteration:  Common Knowledge – Alpha 1 (Nov. 2012), is now a stand-alone tablet-IWB web application that scripts the knowledge community through three progressive phases of blended (oral and online) in situ discussions:  Brainstorm, Analysis, and Synthesis.   After the Brainstorm phase, the knowledge community considers emergent themes arising from the contributed notes, and socially-negotiated tags are entered into the system by the teacher.  The Analysis phase begins with the system sending these notes to student tablets in rapid succession for students to tag and optionally, compose a response.  Student tagging of notes results in a dynamic IWB display of the community’s notes (white icons) connected by lines to corresponding tags (red-rimmed) icons:

The teacher may “pause” the system, to refocus student attention on oral class discussion spurred by the community’s notes.  Later cycles of discussion focus student attention on a specific tag to synthesize learnings through their contribution of “Synthesis” notes (orange icons):

Here’s a Prezi of the blended activity flow (faces have been blurred to protect the children’s identity):

We’re looking forward to developing the alpha 2 iteration of Common Knowledge in early 2013! In the meantime, you can take a look at the code on Github.

(This has blog entry has been cross-posted to Encore Lab’s blog)…

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