Digital support for authentic enquiry

Just back from a workshop trialling our WordPress plugins for EnquiryBlogger, a tool we’re developing for Learning Futures. We had a mixed group of Learning Futures teachers, other teachers and workplace learning specialists, convened by Ruth Deakin Crick from the Systems Learning & Leadership group at U. Bristol. The group was being introduced to, and engaging in, an example of authentic enquiry, as proposed by Deakin Crick, which starts with the selection of a specific, concrete object, place or person, and then builds out from there through a range of activities, to connect with bigger questions and existing knowledge:

Deakin Crick, R. (2009). Inquiry-based learning: reconciling the personal with the public in a democratic and archaeological pedagogy. Curriculum Journal, 20(1), 73 – 92

My colleague Rebecca Ferguson and I ran a blog as a “digital shadow”, mirroring and reflecting on participants’ use of lo-fi media (e.g. stickies, pen+paper), in order to help construct requirements for improving EnquiryBlogger, and for software support for mapping using Compendium +/or Cohere.

On Day 2, I was using Compendium to sketch ideas in the background as Ruth took the group through the process of searching for the emerging Big Ideas in all the material, in particular, the ‘homework’ stories that people brought about the object of enquiry: an old meat mincer:

By the end of the workshop, I had mapped the following as a way both to track our own process (the home map)

Inside these maps are prototype map designs I did as I watched the process the group went through with the stickies, asking the question to myself: How might learners transition from EnquiryBlogger into Compendium, as they look for the bigger questions that start to emerge from investigating a specific object, and choose one to investigate in more depth, connecting to the funds of knowledge which already exist.

The way we’re thinking at the moment, rather than automatically populate Compendium with replicas of what is in the blog, the focus is on providing a simple visual scaffold for affinity analysis — such as a Fishbone skeleton — and asking the learner to review their blog, and drag+drop key elements on the fish:

We will discuss this further at the OU, and welcome any comments on the mapping. I started mapping the design rationale for different technical solutions:

The maps are published in our public Map Exchange in Moodle, and can be viewed in your browser (graphical or outline formats) and the data file can be downloaded if you have installed Compendium (drag+drop the zip file onto an open map in Compendium)

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