ICCE 2019 Bodong CHEN - Creating Conditions for Knowledge Building for the Public Good
Knowledge creation and innovation are becoming pervasive and essential in meeting today's societal demands. This has led to increasing pressure on education to explore new pedagogical models, to move from knowledge transmission to educational paradigms that are more creative, collaborative, and connected. Knowledge Building represents a longstanding effort to redesign education as a knowledge-creating enterprise. Knowledge Building immerses learners in creative work with ideas from the earliest grades; it engages learners in continually improving knowledge of value to their class community; it challenges learners to take greater collective responsibility for their work. Students are asked to identify promising ideas, participate in meta-cognitive dialogues, play epistemic games, assess themselves, and grapple with complex, emergent knowledge structures. These competencies and high-level learner agency espoused by Knowledge Building are needed more than ever in the era of automation and A.I.
In this talk, I will introduce ongoing design-research projects that attempt to further stretch students' knowledge building in classrooms to connect more deeply with the public. Overall, I posit that with proper pedagogical and socio-technical conditions learners are capable of meaningfully participating in public discourse while advancing curricular goals. In particular, I will introduce computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) environments we designed to support ninth graders to study "Energy and Matter" in connection with the "Green New Deal" in the United States; I will also showcase computational research conducted by sixth graders in relation to the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals. Alongside the explication of the design principles and designed environments, I will share episodes of students' knowledge building and evidence of their knowledge advancement, expressiveness, and higher-order competencies. In doing so, I hope to challenge our entrenched beliefs about learner capabilities and highlight the potential of nurturing conditions in K-12 classrooms for knowledge building that connects with and contributes to the public good.