Cand.paed. Rolf K. Baltzersen
Title of dissertation:
Collective knowledge advancement as a pedagogical practice in teacher education. An explorative case study of student group work with wiki assignments in the interplay between an offline and a global online setting.
The aim of this dissertation was to describe and analyze collective knowledge advancement (CKA) as a pedagogical practice in teacher education. The background is that Internet permits new types of authentic knowledge production that make it possible for anyone to make contributions (e.g., Wikipedia). In the future, it is expected that schools and teacher education institutions will let students make contributions in these online settings to a greater degree.
The present study explored how student groups worked with different wiki assignments in one specific teacher education course. A range of different types of data (group interviews, video data, screen capture data, and wiki log data) were collected. By utilizing two theoretical concepts (germ cell and contradictions) from cultural-historical activity theory, help was identified as the singular entity that exhibited the simplest possible characteristics of CKA as a pedagogical practice. On the basis of these findings, it was concluded that three different types of help are particularly important. These include help as informal peer feedback, which relies on spontaneous verbalization of ongoing thoughts, and help that is provided through the open publication of student work in the online setting. The third type of help requires that all students be assigned as helpers for each other so they can share the workload more equally.
This dissertation contributes to educational research in five ways. First, the findings indicate that different types of informal teaching are important components of CKA as a pedagogical practice. Second, the results also describe new types of authentic learning that build on interactions between students and outsiders in the online setting. Third, the findings suggest that it is possible to turn campus-based teaching into a “practicum period” by letting students experiment with new types of collaboration. Fourth, the findings show that a polycontextual pedagogical practice emerges in the interplay between an offline setting and several different online settings. Finally, the analysis demonstrated that the notion of a germ cell provides a powerful means of studying different types of pedagogical practice.