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Discussing and Synthesizing Three Positions in Computer-supported Inquiry Learning from a Design Perspective: Mobile Collaboratories, Emerging Learning Objects, and Personal Inquiry

Our hands-on workshop convenes researchers, educational designers and learning-technology architects to use and discuss different design approaches as a means to better support inquiry learning projects and practices. Participants will use different design tools to discuss the challenges in implementing classroom and field activities based on pedagogical approaches such as personal inquiry, emerging learning objects, and mobile collaboratories. Participants are requested to submit short position statements (500 words) with design challenges they encountered and present related inquiry-based learning systems. Participants can additionally links to videos or and demos to their own collaborative inquiry-based learning systems in relation to their paper. The aim of the workshop is to gain insight into design approaches for pedagogical and technological for better designing collaborative inquiry-based learning.


  • Daniel SPIKOL & Marcelo MILRAD, Linnaeus University, Sweden

    Spikol is a Senior Lecturer at the Dept. of Computer Science Physics and Mathematics and a researcher at the Center for Learning and Knowledge Technologies (CeLeKT). He currently is working with the LETS GO project.

    Milrad is a Full Professor of Media Technology at the School of Computer Science, Physics and Mathematics. He is also the director of the Center for Learning and Knowledge Technologies (CeLeKT). His current research interests include the design of learning environments to support learning about complex domains, collaborative discovery learning and the development of mobile and wireless applications to support collaborative learning.

  • Astrid WICHMANN, Ruhr University Bochum, Germany

    Wichmann is researcher at the Ruhr University Bochum. Her research focus is on computer-based inquiry learning. She has worked in several EU-funded projects (COLDEX, CONNECT, ARGUNAUT, SCY) concentrating on designing and evaluating educational technology.

  • Ulrich HOPPE & Jan ENGLER, University Duisburg-Essen, Germany

    Hoppe holds a professorship for “Cooperative and Learning Support Systems” in the Dept. of Computer Science and Applied Cognitive Science. With a background in mathematics and educational technology, Hoppe has been working for about ten years on intelligent user interfaces and cognitive models of human-computer interaction, before he re-focused his research on technology enhanced learning and distributed collaborative environments.

    Engler is researcher at COLLIDE Research Group in the Dept. of Computer Science and Applied Cognitive Science.  His research interests cover the usage of ontologies for the support to design inquiry-learning scenarios. He is also focusing on intelligent agent support for learning environments. Currently he is working in the EU-funded SCY (Science Created by You) project.

  • Ton DE JONG, University of Twente, Netherlands

    Ton de Jong is professor of Educational Psychology of Behavioral Sciences where he acts as department head of the department Instructional Technology. He is currently coordinator of the 7th framework project Science Created by You (SCY).

  • Roy Pea & Heidy Maldonado, Stanford University, United States

    Pea is the David Jacks Professor of Education and the Learning Sciences at Stanford University and Director of the H-STAR Institute. In addition to work on mobile inquiry, Dr. Pea’s current work is addressing new paradigms for everyday-networked video interactions, and how informal and formal learning can be better understood and connected, in theory and practice via pervasive mobile technologies.

    Maldonado is a Doctoral Candidate in Learning Sciences and Technology Design. Her research interests include computer supported collaborative learning and work; mobile interface design for learning and collaboration; cross-cultural interface design; design and interaction with embodied expressive computer agents.

  • Eileen SCANLON & Canan BLAKE, Open University, United Kingdom

    Scanlon is Professor of Educational Technology and Associate Director of Research and Scholarship in the Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University in the UK. She is also Visiting Professor in Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh. She has extensive research experience on educational technology projects.

    Blake is a Research Fellow for the CAL Evaluation Project which mainly deals with the evaluation of computer based materials and/or multimedia components of selected OU courses. Her research focus is on the evaluation of computer based teaching/learning resources and educational evaluation methodology and the analysis of computer conferencing (text-based) and mapping interactions among students.

  • Claire O’MALLEY, University of Nottingham, United Kingdom

    O’Malley is currently Professor of Learning Science, and Dean of the Graduate School, and a Chartered Psychologist.  Over the past twenty years, Claire has been involved in many national and international committees and conferences and the Editorial Boards of leading journals, speaking and publishing widely in the field of computer-supported learning and interaction.

  • Stamatina ANASTOPOULOU, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece

    Anastopoulou is now a Researcher at the Educational Technology Lab, exploring the ways science learning can be promoting through participating in informal learning activities. She participated at the Personal Inquiry project where she studied inquiry-based science with mobile technologies across different settings.


This workshop argues for the need to examine different design approaches to explore and promote innovative educational practices supported by collaborative technologies. Bringing the design process to the forefront to support research and the realization of products for CSCL can help to balance the different needs of researchers and practitioners. The goal of the workshop is to use the perspectives of three projects (Science Created by You, LETS GO, and Personal Inquiry) as a starting point for discussion. Additionally, the organizers will select new perspectives drawn from the participants to discuss how design processes can support CSCL research.  The main outcome of the workshop is to indentify key themes that can be further developed to support and improve the design of collaborative inquiry learning research and the development products.

The Three Starting Perspectives

Science Created by You (SCY) is a project on learning in science and technology domains. SCY uses a pedagogical approach that centers on products, called “emerging learning objects” (ELOs), that are created by students. Students work individually and collaboratively in SCY-Lab (the general SCY learning environment) on “missions” that are guided by socio-scientific questions

LETS GO frames its vision of “open inquiry” as the opportunity to catalyze and sustain global learning using mobile science collaboratories that provide open software tools and resources, and online participation frameworks for learner project collaboration, mobile media and data capture, analysis, reflection and publishing.

PI (Personal Inquiry) explores how to make the processes of evidence-based scientific inquiry personally relevant and readily accessible to young people (aged 11-15 years). The approach of PI focuses on scripted inquiry learning where learners carry out scientific explorations supported both by their teachers and also by nQuire, a personal inquiry toolkit. PI also aims to support the continuity of science learning between classrooms and non-formal settings through collaborative and individual learning activities.

Intended audience

We invite researchers working in the fields of educational technology, math and science learning (but not limited to) who are interested in designing and running activities in inquiry-based environments. Participants should ideally have experiences in designing or using software to support science classroom or outdoor learning activities.

Participation requirements

Participants are asked to submit position statements (max. 650 words) in which they illustrate design problems related to the design, evaluation, and implementation of inquiry learning that, they would like to discuss during the workshop. If participants want to present an inquiry-learning system, then additional material may be requested. The statements should include cases or problems with respect to areas of content (e.g. challenges for orchestrating mobile activities as part of larger inquiry learning), envisioning inquiry-based learning activities resulting in pedagogical scenarios (e.g. develop a concept map, run field experiments etc.). A Wiki will be provided to aggregate information about the workshop and input from the participants.


2/15: Submissions to workshops due (priority consideration)
3/15: Notification of participation in workshops

Selection Process

Participants’ proposals will be reviewed by three of the workshops organizers to determine participation.

Duration of event (half day or full day)

Full Day

Description of format and schedule of activities planned

The workshop is divided into four sessions that include discussions and hands-on work with the different design processes across the projects. The first session contains a brief overview of three prominent perspectives in computer-based inquiry learning: Personal Inquiry, Mobile Collaboratories and Emerging Learning Objects. Their relevance in three ongoing science projects will be presented. Additionally, perspectives from projects from the participants selected by the organizers will be presented to seed the workshop discussions. The next session is Design Approaches that provides a set of tools for exploring how to use different design tools and processes to support the creation of inquiry learning environments. The third session consists of small breakout groups that will test out and discuss the different design tools and approaches in relation to three projects and participant’s own projects. The experiences from the previous session’s activities and created artifacts will inform the fourth session, the debriefing session. The aim of this final session is to discuss how inquiry based science learning supported by technology can be implemented more effectively in schools through exploring design approaches and what challenges this creates for the research, design, and eventually practice.

Session 1: Introduction (1 hour)

We will provide a setting in which the challenges of developing inquiry learning activities for computer-based learning environments will be described and discussed. Broad design requirements for creating and running activities will be identified specifically describing the design challenges from the different perspectives that include Emerging Learning Objects, Mobile Collaboratories, and Personal Inquiry and the participants.

Session 2: Design Approaches for Inquiry Activities (1 hour)

A set of design tools and processes will be presented that include research and professional practices. These tools are drawn from interaction, product, and learning centered design practices.  Each of the breakout groups will use different tools to explore how design approaches can be used to better support inquiry learning to “work well”.  The set of tools provide a means for the participants to get familiar with discussing the design experiences of the three case studies from different perspectives that include technology, users, emerging learning objects, the learning goals, and societal implications.

Session 3: Breakout groups for design workshops (3 to 4 hours)

This is the main part of the workshop in which the participants form small groups and use the design tools introduced in the previous session. The teams apply the tools to analyze and discuss the different projects. Each of the groups will have access to the tools, such as paper based cards, white boards, and assorted pens and papers to support their design discussions. The aim of this session is for each group to generate some key discussion points related to the theme of their group for session 4.

Session 4: Debriefing and Discussion: Evaluating Inquiry Activities (1 hour)

The final activity of the day is a group debriefing on the use of the three different design tools. The aim of this group discussion is cover topics such as scalability, sustainability, open standards and source, and teacher support for improving inquiry knowledge. The discussion will continue with the aim of identifying key design issues for the future of inquiry-based science learning with technology.

Relationship to similar events conducted in the past (e.g. at CSCL or ICLS)

This is a evolution of the CSCL 2009 workshop “Mobile Science Collaboratories to Support Open Inquiry” and the ICLS 2010 workshop, “Three Perspectives On Technology Support In Inquiry Learning: Personal Inquiry, Mobile Collaboratories, and Emerging Learning Objects”. Based on the experience from running these workshops, we have shifted the focus to different design approaches as means to discuss inquiry based learning supported by collaborative technologies.

Facilities and equipment required

Workshop room, chairs and small tables, high-speed wireless Internet, projector, whiteboards, large easels with paper, whiteboard pens, etc…

Minimal and maximal number of participants expected

Ideally between 12 and 24 people

Related links

Last modified on June 14, 2011