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Muukkonen, H; Hakkarainen K.; Leinonen T. 2000 Copyright

Fle2 is design to support problem based learning (PBL) and inquiry learning. Fle2 help students and teachers to engage in co-ordinated efforts to solve problems and build knowledge together. Process of the study course using the Fle2 should follow the following module of progressive inquiry.

Setting up the Context
A starting point of the process of inquiry is creating a context for a study project in order to anchor the chosen issues to central conceptual principles of the domain of knowledge in question. The purpose of context creating is to help the students to understand why the issues in question are worthwhile to investigate. In study course using the Fle2 the context can be set in face to face meeting, with selected readings, with a video lecture etc. Significant part of the setting up of the context phase is to jointly plan and set up goals for a study project.

Presenting Research Problems
An essential aspect of progressive inquiry is to set up questions or problems that guide the process of inquiry. Scientific inquiry can be seen as a problem-solving process: initial question define the domains where the inquiry is directed and more refined questions guide the porcess. Conceptual problems that arise from students' own attempts to understand and explain the problems being investigated are helping a student to guide and regulate their knowledge-building efforts.

Creating Working Theories
Another important aspect of inquiry, and a critical condition of developing conceptual understanding, is generation of one's own working theories, conjectures, hypotheses, theories or interpretations for the phenomena being investigated (Carey & Smith, 1995; Perkins, Crismond, Simmons, & Under, 1995; Scardamalia & Bereiter, 1993). Construction of working theories guides students to systematically use their background knowledge and make abductive inferences to explain new phenomena and extend understanding. Progressive inquiry aims at facilitating explication and externalization of a student1s intuitive conceptions, through guiding students, for instance, to write about their ideas. Further, it is intended to make the differences between one1s own conceptions and scientific conceptions more salient and accessible to the student. This, in turn, is likely to facilitate conceptual restructuring.

Critical Evaluation
Critical evaluation addresses the need to assess advancement in knowledge-seeking inquiry in a constructive way. Through evaluating whether and how well the working theories explain the chosen problems, the learning community seeks to assess strengths and the weaknesses of different explanations and identify contradictory explanations, gaps of knowledge, and limitations of the power of intuitive explanation. The evaluation helps the community to direct and regulate joint cognitive efforts toward searching new information that will help advance shared understanding.

Searching Deepening Knowledge
The questions generated and working theories constructed provide heuristical guidance in the search for new scientific information by suggesting possible directions in which potential answers and more specific information can be sought. By examining one1s prior problem statements or working theories with the help of new information, the student may become aware of his or her inadequate presuppositions or background assumptions. Further, large bodies of information cannot be managed without questions that guide and constrain the knowledge seeking process and help to conceptually structure obtained information. The question-guided search for new scientific information is likely to facilitate transition from reference to problem-centered knowledge, and, therefore, elicit conceptual restructuring (Bereiter & Scardamalia 1993).

Developing Deepening Problems
In genuine problem-solving situations one has to start to generate questions and tentative theories before all necessary information is available. As a consequence, the process of inquiry often has to start with very general, unspecified and "fuzzy" questions and tentative working theories (Sintonen, 1991). In spite of gaps, weaknesses, or unclarities, these kinds of general questions and working theories function as tools of inquiry and provide a basis for progressive inquiry. A critical condition for progress is that a student focuses on improving his or her theory by generating more specific questions and searching for new information. The process of inquiry advances through transforming and refining the initial big and unspecified questions into more specific questions following the interrogative model of inquiry.

New Theory
The dynamic nature of inquiry is based on the generation of intuitive explanations and acquiring of new scientific information, which in turn make new research questions and more elaborate working theories accessible to the students, theories that could not have been anticipated in the beginning of the inquiry. Through generating new questions, searching repeatedly for new information and constructing more and more articulated working theories, a student moves step by step toward answering the initial big question.

Distributed Expertise
All aspects of inquiry & such setting up research questions, searching for new scientific information, constructing of one1s own working theories or assessing the explanations generated can be shared with fellow inquirers. Cognitive research indicates that advancement of inquiry can be substantially elicited by relying on socially distributed cognitive resources, and collaborative efforts to advance shared understanding. There is, further, a growing body of evidence that cognitive diversity and variation in the fields of expertise promote knowledge advancement and cognitive growth. Through social interaction, contradictions, inconsistencies and limitations of a student1s explanations may become salient to him or her; one is forced to perceive conceptualizations from different points of view. Collaborative inquiry facilitates deepening conceptual understanding by pushing a student to commit to some idea or belief, as well as to organize and reorganize his or her knowledge (Hatano & Inagaki, 1992).


Carey & Smith, 1995; On understanding scientific knowledge. In D. N. Perkins, J. L. Schwartz, M. M. West, & M. S. Wiske (Eds.), Software goes to school. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Perkins, Crismond, Simmons, & Under, 1995; Inside Understanding. In D. N. Perkins, J. L. Schwartz, M. M. West, & M. S. Wiske (Eds.) Software goes to school. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Scardamalia & Bereiter, 1993; Technologies for knowledge-building discourse. Communications of the ACM, 36.

Bereiter & Scardamalia, 1993; Surpassing ourselves. An inquiry into the nature and implications of expertise. Chicago, IL: Open Court.

Sintonen, 1991; The Pragmatics of Scientific Explanation. Acta Philophica Fennica, Vol. 37. Helsinki: Societas Philosophica Fennica.

Hatano & Inagaki, 1992; Desituating cognition through the construction of conceptual knowledge. In P. Light & G. Butterworth (Eds.) Context and cognition. Ways of knowing and learning. (pp. 115-133). New York: Harvester.

FLe2 Research and Development is supported by NordUnet2.
R&D parters of the Fle2 project are: UIAH Media Lab, University of Art and Design Helsinki,
Department of Communication, Journalism and Computer Science, Roskilde University, and
Centre for Research in Networked Learning and Knowledge Building, University of Helsinki

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