The Cyberlearning and Future Learning Technologies Program funds efforts that will help in envisioning the next generation of learning technologies and advancing what we know about how people learn in technology-rich environments. Development and Implementation (DIP) Projects build on proof-of-concept work that showed the possibilities of the proposed new type of learning technology, and project teams build and refine a minimally-viable example of their proposed innovation that allows them to understand how such technology should be designed and used in the future and to answer questions about how people learn with technology. An important issue in education is encouraging learners to engage in sustained inquiry around important content and helping them to continually refine their understandings. Technology already exists to help communities of learners (e.g., those in a class) keep track of the ideas they are generating and refining. The innovation in this project will help groups of learners make two kinds of connections: (i) between the different discussions they are having across topical areas and (ii) between the ideas they are discussing and those that groups in other classes are discussing. The project team's earlier Cyberlearning Exploration (EXP) project showed that such connections gives rise to curiosity and new learning goals as well as deeper understanding. It is expected that technology that makes these connections easier to identify will also make it easier for students to refer back to what they learned in previous years' classes and to refine their earlier understandings.
Knowledge building is the collaborative refinement of ideas by a community. The goal in knowledge building is to engage learners in sustained inquiry and progressive discourse through which ideas are continually developed and refined, giving rise to higher-level learning goals. The aim in this project is to design and build support for knowledge building across communities and across time, connecting communities into a shared field in which shared bases of knowledge co-advance with each other and across communities (e.g., across classes addressing similar issues; across years of school). Students kick off their inquiry by importing productive idea threads from other classrooms as inquiry starters, then co-review with others, access others' ideas as they move forward, and engage in live interactions with partnering communities. The knowledge building platform being developed for use across communities is called CITY (Connecting Idea Threads or Youth). Automated analysis developed during the previous Cyberlearning EXP project helps groups within a single class visualize their idea threads and thread idea threads with each other. The automated process is being extended with language processing algorithms that can identify conversations in other communities that have potential to be useful in extending a group's understanding. The project team, which includes experts in collaborative learning, computational linguistics, and self-regulation, is aiming to learn how to make the technology work across communities, to understand how to use such technology to sustain engagement with and refinement of ideas, and the qualities the surrounding socio-technical system needs to have for such sustained and distributed knowledge building to happen.
The Learning Sciences is an interdisciplinary field that draws on multiple theoretical perspectives and research paradigms, with the goal of advancing knowledge and the application of knowledge about human learning and development in formal and informal educational settings. Within the context of an international research community, it is essential to support the best young US scholars to be able to share their ideas and learn from the community, especially since junior scholars are most likely to struggle with the costs of participation. This proposal supports participation of US students and postdoctoral scholars in the Doctoral Consortium and Early Career Workshop at the annual meeting of the International Society of the Learning Sciences, which in 2015 is the Computer Supported Collaborative Learning Conference, to be held in Gothenburg, Sweden. Organizing the workshops in conjunction with the flagship conferences in the field gives the workshop participants further access to new research, other researchers in the field and prospective employers, and revitalizes the community with fresh faces and ideas.
Researchers in the learning sciences attempt to understand the nature and conditions of learning, cognition, development, and related areas of human performance, and they investigate cognition in its material, social, and cultural contexts. The intention of learning science research is to develop evidence-based claims about how people learn that have theoretical, practical, and pedagogical implications. Capacity building is a central concern within the Learning Sciences community. The International Society for the Learning Sciences has historically addressed these needs, in part, through specialized workshops held in conjunction with the Society's two major conferences, with multilateral financial support from regional research funders in the US, the EU, and Asia/Pacific regions. The Doctoral Consortium workshops host PhD students who are grappling with their dissertation research, while the Early Career workshops are designed for recent PhDs (post-docs, faculty in early tenure track, and others) who are shaping career paths. This grant provides travel support to US scholars selected through a competitive application process to participate in these events. Their work is presented for feedback in the context of the events with feedback from an international panel of expert mentors, and published in the proceedings of the conference.