Knowledge Forum

Knowledge Forum is the commercial version of the well-known environment CSILE -Computer Supported Intentional Learning Environment -, created at the end of the 1980s by Scardamalia and Bereiter as a support for a learning methodology based on the creation of a Knowledge Building Community (Scardamalia and Bereiter, 2003).

The underlying proposition is that teachers and students should work as a collaborative scientific community: posing problems and defining objectives, contributing, exchanging and contrasting ideas and information, in constant collaboration and progressively construct a shared knowledge base.

Knowledge Forum allows the creation of different virtual spaces for debate, or ‘views’, with a series of support tools to promote writing for learning among students.

Main functionalities:
· Views: they allow forums to be opened for the debating of different topics; all contributions from all spaces are stored in a single database and this constitutes the basis of the knowledge constructed by the student group or groups.
· Scaffolds: they seek to make students reflect on the content of their contribution to the shared knowledge base, while, at the same time, they constitute a support for readers to understand the contribution they are reading. The program has two types of predetermined scaffold collections (“Theory building” - My theory, I need to understand, New information …- and “Opinions and debates” - Contrary opinions, Evidence, Example ...), but the teacher can create others according to the educational aims of a particular activity.
· Annotations: they allow comments to be inserted directly in the messages written by others, without changing the original text.
· References: they allow a link to be included within the contribution to a file that the user or other participants wish to contribute to the shared space or to external sources; while collaborative notes allow joint contributions to be made between several members of the student group.
· Rise-above function: this allows existing notes to be reorganised to reveal new relationships or support new ideas.