Institute for Inquiry

This is how the Institute for Inquiry describes the enquiry process — in language  very similar to our ideas about authentic enquiry…

Good science education requires both learning scientific concepts and developing scientific thinking skills. Inquiry is an approach to learning that involves a process of exploring the natural or material world, and that leads to asking questions, making discoveries, and testing those discoveries in the search for new understanding. Inquiry, as it relates to science education, should mirror as closely as possible the enterprise of doing real science.

The inquiry process is driven by one’s own curiosity, wonder, interest, or passion to understand an observation or to solve a problem.

The process begins when the learner notices something that intrigues, surprises, or stimulates a question—something that is new, or something that may not make sense in relationship to the learner’s previous experience or current understanding.

The next step is to take action—through continued observing, raising questions, making predictions, testing hypotheses, and creating conceptual models.

The learner must find her or his own pathway through this process. It is rarely a linear progression, but rather more of a back-and-forth, or cyclical, series of events.

As the process unfolds, more observations and questions emerge, providing for deeper interaction with the phenomena—and greater potential for further development of understanding.

Along the way, the inquirer collects and records data, makes representations of results and explanations, and draws upon other resources such as books, videos, and the expertise or insights of others.

Making meaning from the experience requires reflection, conversation, comparison of findings with others, interpretation of data and observations, and the application of new conceptions to other contexts. All of these serve to help the learner construct an improved mental framework of the world.

Effective teachers rely on many different ways of teaching science. At the Institute for Inquiry® we focus on inquiry learning, a powerful tool in learning science and in keeping wonder and curiosity alive in the classroom.

Rethinking innovation in organizations through coevolving systems theory

Professor Richard Vidgen Australian School of Business, University of New South Wales will be leading this seminar at the UoB Systems Centre on 1st June at 1700

Research into high performing workplaces identifies the ability of organizations to innovate as a significant indicator of financial performance. Unsurprisingly, innovation is of great interest to governments. Despite this interest from firms and policy-makers it is less clear how organizations can organize to encourage, generate, and capture innovation.

This paper develops an innovation organizing framework grounded in complex adaptive systems. The framework draws on three principles of coevolving systems: match coevolutionary change rate, maximize self-organizing, and synchronize exploitation and exploration. The last principle suggests that innovation should not be viewed in isolation, i.e., to talk about innovation (exploration) we must also talk about operational aspects (exploitation). Although this even-handed approach to innovation has been reported widely in the management research on ‘ambidexterity’, the organizational/organizing aspects are less well explored. The coevolving systems principles are illustrated through application to the new product development process, in which customers and products are viewed as coevolving species.

ICT, Resilience, Complexity & Sensemaking

Last week I gave a seminar at the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), renowned for its ground-breaking computing R&D in many fields, including Human-Computer Interaction, Hypertext and Sensemaking.

I was hosted by my long time colleague Maarten Sierhuis (formerly NASA Ames, now Manager of the Knowledge, Language & Interaction Area) and Gregorio Convertino (Augmented Social Cognition Area) who organised the CSCW 2010 Collective Intelligence workshop we attended last year.

As the abstract indicates, the ideas we’re developing connect to Learning Emergence themes of how ICT intersects with resilience thinking in complex adaptive systems (such as educational institutions or leaning networks), and sensemaking. As discussed in another talk, the learning power concept of resilience (and other ELLI dimensions) are relevant when it comes to discussing the habits and skills of staff when an organisation is confronted by overwhelming complexity.

ABSTRACT: To thrive, organizational entities (learning communities; teams of analysts; formal companies) must make sense of a complex, changing environment. Our interest is in how sociotechnical “collective intelligence” infrastructures may augment this capacity. We are seeking conceptual lenses that illuminate this challenge, and draw ideas from resilience thinking, sensemaking, and complexity science. We propose that these motivate the concept of Contested Collective Intelligence (CCI), and give examples of how the Cohere platform is being designed in response to these requirements. This is a social/semantic web annotation and knowledge mapping environment, with tools for monitoring networks of ideas and generating novel analytics. We also report experimental integration with the Xerox Incremental Parser, in order to evaluate human+machine annotation of knowledge-level claims expressed through rhetorical moves in documents.

BIOS: Simon Buckingham Shum is a Senior Lecturer and Associate Director (Technology) at the UK Open University’s Knowledge Media Institute (KMi), where he leads the Hypermedia Discourse Group. Following a PhD at U. York in HCI/Hypertext/Design Rationale (sponsored by Xerox EuroPARC) he has developed a human-centered computing perspective to the challenge of computer-supported sensemaking, reflected in the books Visualizing Argumentation and Knowledge Cartography. He co-founded the Compendium Institute and

Anna De Liddo is a Research Associate in KMi, where she works with Simon on the Open Learning Network project (, focusing on the design and development of a Collective Intelligence infrastructure for the Open Education Resources movement. She gained her PhD at Polytechnic of Bari, investigating ICT for Participatory Planning and Deliberation, after which she held a postdoctoral position in KMi evaluating human-centred argument mapping for Climate Change.

These demo movies show Cohere as a complement to the slides. More detailed presentations of some of the ideas summarised in this talk are in the following:

De Liddo, A.; Buckingham Shum, S.; Quinto, I.; Bachler, M. and Cannavacciuolo, L. (2011). Discourse-centric learning analytics. In: LAK 2011: 1st International Conference on Learning Analytics & Knowledge, 27 Feb – 01 Mar 2011, Banff, Alberta. Eprint:

De Liddo, A. and Buckingham Shum, S. (2010). Cohere: A prototype for contested collective intelligence. In: ACM Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW 2010) – Workshop: Collective Intelligence In Organizations – Toward a Research Agenda, February 6-10, 2010, Savannah, Georgia, USA. Eprint:

Buckingham Shum, S. and De Liddo, A. (2010). Collective intelligence for OER sustainability. In: OpenEd2010: Seventh Annual Open Education Conference, 2-4 Nov 2010, Barcelona, Spain. Eprint:

Simon Buckingham Shum, Ágnes Sándor, Anna De Liddo & Michelle Bachler: Integrating Human & Machine Document Annotation for Sensemaking. Seminar, 11th November 2010, Knowledge Media Institute, The Open University, UK.

Trafalgar Primary School in Victoria, Australia, pioneers radical approaches to learning

Vicki Miles, Principal, Trafalgar Primary School in Victoria gives an overview of how her students are enhancing arts and media skills with integrated technology.

Trafalgar Primary school is a progressive and innovative school that seeks to find learning experiences that support their philosophy of valuing the “whole child”. Trafalgar teachers actively engage in creating learning opportunities that support students in developing 21st century learning skills, specifically how students learn and engage with technology. With a highly successful integrated music and technology program, a fully functioning recording studio and a desire to engage with student interest, Trafalgar teachers wished to trial a number of innovative programs with their Grade 5/6 students through a newly developed open learning centre.

How about trialling EnquiryBlogger too?

Learning Futures Collaborative- your views??

In the Learning Futures Collaborative at the beginnnign of March, five teacher groups presented stories of significant change from their Learning Futures pedgaogies. All thirty people present identified key ideas throughout all five presentations and then tried to match them onto the four Learning Futures themes: School as Basecamp, School as Learning Commons, EnquiryBased learning and Extended Learning Relationships. The themes we came up with are here: Themes for LF Collaborative.

We invite you to reflect on how these themes we generated from our stories of profound change connect to the four Learning Futures themes. If they don’t, what does that mean for our collaborative learning? If they do fit together – how does that work?