Wan & Johnson promote the "constructed realities" view of scientific learning and research, with an emphasis on the social aspects and scientific activities represented as knowledge artifacts. There is a relationship between Wan & Johnsons view of representing knowledge, textualization, and Lambiotte, et als proposal that formal representation of the knowledge base in a discipline can be diagrammed using concept maps. Wan & Johnson argue for the value of computer-mediated, collaborative group scientific inquiry.
Wan & Johnson outline the value of collaborative learning in graduate research seminars, and identify barriers to this style of learning that will fall in the presence of computer-mediated mechanisms for representing and supporting artifact production, evaluation, manipulation, integration and utilization. The authors extend the ideas of Cavalli-Sforza, et al, and their ICAI system, by specifying social structures in the traditional gradute seminar that can be facilitated with the informed use of technology, and current barriers that may be broken.
Reflection on the authors definition of the learning and exchange process in a graduate research seminar, the manipulation or transformation of written artifacts, enabled me to draw connections with the structure of our course, CPSC 679. Barriers identified by the authors, such as face-to-face interaction, same-place & time constraints, discontinuity across different seminar sessions, and lack of organic links, are currently being broken through use of technology in this course. Responses to articles and publishing of same on-line enables each student to first formulate and express their own response to an article, and then share in the responses of others. This breaks the barrier of face-to-face contact, and promotes increased participation through active reflection on each article. Through use of e-mail, students and instuctors are not limited to contact during the scheduled lecture session. This breaks the same-place & time barrier, and could promote increased contact outside of the formal lecture time. An external pool of mutual artifacts is being generated and disseminated through publishing on-line. Access to the opinions of each classmate may promote extended discussion and treatment of each article.
The authors describe an example of a single users interaction with RESRA, which appears to be a query language and concept mapping tool. The authors verify that this interaction is broadened and informed by collaborative use in the scientific environment. COREVIEW seems to support the collaborative learning that is necessary for active sharing of individul research artifacts. The authors describe RESRA as a guide that teaches the learner how to learn and how to do research.
I was uncomfortable with the notion that a stand alone program such as RESRA was enough (or even necessary) to generate the type of active reflection and investment that seems necessary to build a knowledge base from literature review. The authors do not address the issue of motivation on the part of the learner. Cannot the inquiry process resident in RESRA be accomplished equally well using an approach not dependent or guided by this particular application? I was left with questions when finished reading this article. How does a student learn how to analyze and summarize a research article? What aspects of the article are chosen to be represented? What is the influence of context, such as the theme or research focus of other articles read at the same time? Given an open framework for review, and taking into account the different points at which students are in their program of study, what kind of artifact base will be generated, and can a value measurement be calculated? Does an open (or guided) framework for article review inhibit or facilitate active reflection?
The future direction of the present research is to implement and study COREVIEW in a learning and research environment. As this article is a few years old, it would be interesting to followup on the authors, and study their findings.