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Article of Volume 3, Issue 2, June 2008

A systemic and cognitive view on collaborative knowledge building with wikis

Authors: Ulrike Cress, Joachim Kimmerle

Abstract: Wikis provide new opportunities for learning and for collaborative knowledge building as well as for understanding these processes. This article presents a theoretical framework for describing how learning and collaborative knowledge building take place. In order to understand these processes, three aspects need to be considered: the social processes facilitated by a wiki, the cognitive processes of the users, and how both processes influence each other mutually. For this purpose, the model presented in this article borrows from the systemic approach of Luhmann as well as from Piaget’s theory of equilibration and combines these approaches. The model analyzes processes which take place in the social system of a wiki as well as in the cognitive systems of the users. The model also describes learning activities as processes of externalization and internalization. Individual learning happens through internal processes of assimilation and accommodation, whereas changes in a wiki are due to activities of external assimilation and accommodation which in turn lead to collaborative knowledge building. This article provides empirical examples for these equilibration activities by analyzing Wikipedia articles. Equilibration activities are described as being caused by subjectively perceived incongruities between an individuals’ knowledge and the information provided by a wiki. Incongruities of medium level cause cognitive conflicts which in turn activate the described processes of equilibration and facilitate individual learning and collaborative knowledge building.

Keywords: Collaboration, Computer support, Knowledge building, Equilibration, Wiki

Citation: Kimmerle, J. & Cress, U. (2008) A systemic and cognitive view on collaborative knowledge building with wikis. ijcscl 3 (2)

DOI: 10.1007/s11412-007-9035-z

Preprint: Acrobat-PDF cress_kimmerle_3_2.pdf

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