Creating a community of learners: computer support ...

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Title Creating a community of learners: computer support in the eastern Arctic [Joamie School, Iqaluit]
Author(s) Alexander McAuley
Date 2001
Volume 40
Issue 4
Start page 8
Abstract Research about Knowledge Forum[Symbol Not Transcribed] [registered symbol] and its predecessor, CSILE, documents superior learning gains in a number of areas, but can we be sure that similar gains are being realized at Joamie School? The database itself provides one indication as a teacher notes: 'There's a lot of amazing stuff there. It's really seeing student growth. It's really neat to see their thought processes develop. I can certainly notice differences in the topics they did in the spring. Even their startups then were so much more indepth than they were earlier in the year with the other topics. They start off asking much more in-depth questions and giving a lot more information than they had earlier in the year.' Further monitoring is available through an online 'analytical toolkit' which allows teachers to identify quantitative indicators of student learning, such as numbers of notes and uses of knowledge-building features of the program. Ongoing collaboration with Knowledge Forum researchers at OISE/University of Toronto as part of the TeleLearning National Centres of Excellence program provides a third level of monitoring and evaluation. You would also notice that several key differences are linked to the classroom bank of computers. Students move from a whole-class brainstorming session or from small-group or individual research and discussion sessions to work on the computers for a minimum of 25 to 40 minutes per day. There they log into a unique Canadian collaborative software environment called Knowledge Forum[Symbol Not Transcribed] [registered symbol]. Developed over the past fifteen years by educators working with researchers at the Centre of Applied Cognitive Science at OISE/University of Toronto, Knowledge Forum[Symbol Not Transcribed] [registered symbol] enables students to record, share, illustrate, and comment on their topics of investigation and those of their classmates, much as a community of scientists would. The goal is the creation of a community of learners in which students actively and collaboratively build knowledge about curriculum topics. It's a goal relevant to all Canadians concerned about the role of information and communication technologies in schools and how schools prepare students for the developing 'knowledge-based economy' of the twenty-first century. It's also a goal of critical importance to the students of Joamie School, whose success in straddling two cultures will contribute to the eventual success of Nunavut, Canada's newest territory.

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