Knowledge Exchange Lab
Knowledge exchange and collaborative learning are crucial elements in many educational contexts. Sharing knowledge with others does not only have motivational, but cognitive advantages: Learners may receive help, are triggered to externalize their knowledge, and might be able to yield creative solutions to problems that they couldn't have mastered individually. Digital media can support and impact processes of knowledge exchange in educationally meaningful ways. In two areas of research, the Knowledge Exchange Lab investigates the various ways in which knowledge exchange can be facilitated. One area of research deals with Knowledge Exchange in Face-to-Face Settings, and investigates the use of digital media in classrooms, museums, or libraries. In contrast, the second area of research (Knowledge Exchange in Distributed Settings) addresses technologies that enable knowledge exchange among persons over a distance. These two research areas are united in the research efforts of the independent junior lab “Group Awareness in Teams”, affiliated with the “Knowledge Exchange” lab.
Research Area: Knowledge Exchange in Face-to-Face Settings
In face-to-face settings digital media can be employed in order to provide collaborators with shared artifacts, e.g. external representations that can be explored, manipulated, or even designed by learners. A shared artifact offers a frame of reference for knowledge exchange, and helps in making collaborative learning visible. Examples are collaborative design of videos in classroom contexts, the joint exploration of digital objects at a multi touch table located in a museum, or collaborative literature search at an interactive table in a library. Moreover, in this area of research we address the orchestration of collaborative learning, e.g. the lesson planning of teachers who want to introduce collaborative learning methods in the classroom, or the large-scale embedding of collaborative learning methods within a school.
Research Area: Knowledge Exchange in Distributed Settings
In contrast to face-to-face settings, distributed settings are characterized by a lack of contextual information. Therefore research often focuses on technological developments that try to re-build the richness of face-to-face environments. However, our approach goes one step beyond this idea by not only trying to compensate for limitations, but by providing contextual information that would be difficult or impossible to yield in face-to-face settings – e.g. by informing about the knowledge or the opinions of others. So-called awareness tools do not only inform learners about how a group "thinks", but can also foster reflection about one's own activities – an example would be mobile applications that support processes of critical thinking. Larger communities where members do not know each other in person are an interesting context where these forms of support could become crucial. Therefore, this area of research focuses on group awareness tools in Web 2.0 contexts, e.g. in the way that information from recommender systems is processed, in the way information is shared in microblogging servies, or in the way that controversial viewpoints are discussed in online forums.
Junior Lab „Group Awareness in Teams“
In group settings it is important to be informed about the team partners. This junior lab assesses Group Awareness Tools, which inform team members about the cognitive and social aspects of their team partners.
Using the Knowledge and Information Awareness research approach by Engelmann, whereby team members are informed about the knowledge structures and information of the team partners, the junior lab pursues three research themes looking at both distributed as well as face-to-face settings: The 1st research theme encompasses the empirical validation of the theoretical independence of the Knowledge and Information Awareness concept from related concepts. The 2nd research theme looks at the presentation and acquisition of Knowledge and Information Awareness contents. The focus of the 3rd research theme is applying the approach to additional cognitive content, for example, being informed about the priorities of the team partners. The leadership of this junior lab founded by Dr. Tanja Engelmann, was handed over to Prof. Dr. Dr. Friedrich Hesse in February 2014.