The above video represents the most recent iteration of my dissertation work; a design-based research project that investigates how learning analytics tools and approaches, applied within the context of a technology-enhanced, blended learning environment, can support a Knowledge Community and Inquiry (KCI) approach to secondary science. In the video I present the design of CKBiology; a software environment and corresponding curriculum that have been specifically designed to support a KCI approach within two sections of a Grade 12 Biology course.
Acknowledging that many learning analytic tools and designs emerged from online courseware environments, which maintain a focus on individual performance and accountability, this work seeks to contribute learning analytics designs that foster more collaborative learning approaches. Such tools are intended for use by students and teachers to inform their orchestrational moves within the classroom, necessitating real-time data capture, intuitive user interfaces, and visual representations that can be readily interpreted and acted upon.
With CKBiology, students work together to populate a shared community knowledge base over the course of each curricular unit. Following each classroom lesson, students are assigned three types of tasks: (1) Explaining a term or concept, (2) identifying relationships between terms or concepts, and (3) vetting explanations that others in the knowledge community have submitted. For each lesson, students are shown two progress bars; one representing their own progress on their assigned tasks, and another representing the progress of the whole knowledge community. Students may choose to go “above and beyond” their own assigned work in order to advance community progress, which earns them a gold star and allows them to surpass a score of 100%. Disagreements or inconsistencies within the knowledge base are indicated using a yellow dot, serving as a cue for a follow-up discussion the following day.
Towards the end of each curricular unit, students complete an in-class review challenge activity. The challenge activity requires students to apply their knowledge to new, “real-world” contexts of inquiry—contributing knowledge individually, negotiating this knowledge in small groups, and improving upon this knowledge as a whole class. The review challenge activities occur within a specially designated Active Learning Classroom; a physical space that was specifically designed and constructed to support computer-supported collaborative learning activities.
The review activities include real-time analysis of student interaction data as a source of input into the orchestration of complex scripts, which may influence the assignment of students to groups, the distribution of materials, or sequencing of activities. These real-time analytics are also used to determine which groups may need help, to provide groups with formative feedback, and to provide the instructor with information concerning group progress.