Zhang Research Lab: Technology
Technology-Augmented Co-Creativity Lab (TaCCL)
led by Dr. Jianwei Zhang at the University at Albany, State University of New York
Technology Design and Innovation
Idea Thread Mapper
We created Idea Thread Mapper (ITM, https://idea-thread.net/) through two NSF Cyberlearning projects (with computer scientist Mei-Hwa Chen) (Chen, Zhang, & Lee, 2013; Zhang & Chen, 2019). Interoperating with Knowledge Forum (Scardamalia & Bereiter, 2006), ITM integrates reflective support for student-driven discourse in each classroom and boundary-crossing interaction across different classrooms. The support for knowledge building within each classroom encourages students to co-organize evolving inquiry directions and social roles as their collective work proceeds. Cross-classroom interaction takes place in a meta-space shared among partner classrooms. Interaction tools are provided for students to create and share inquiry reflections (“super notes”) and propose topics for live “Super Talk” discussions with other classrooms focusing on challenging issues. A rich set of visualizations and analytics are embedded in ITM to detect emergent topics, trace student idea progress and connections, and generate automated feedback on student discourse. The design of ITM was featured in several reviews of collaborative learning technology and analytics, such as Alwyn Vwen Yen Lee and Chew Lee Teo (2020). Beyond Threaded Discussions: Learning with Knowledge Building Analytics. SoLAR Nexus on Medium.com.
- See how ITM is used in science classrooms: "Connecting Student-Driven Inquiry with Idea Thread Mapper" https://stemforall2019.videohall.com/presentations/1623 (2019 NSF STEM For All Video Showcase);
- Want to learn more, or try out? Go to: https://idea-thread.net/login
The Knowledge Network for Innovations in Learning and Teaching (KNILT)
KNILT (https://knilt.arcc.albany.edu/) is an open online knowledge space—built upon the Mediawiki platform—where educators can generate, share, and search for ideas on how to improve education in the 21st century context. Since its inception in September 2007, KNILT has accumulated more than 600 mini-courses (as of December 2021). The mini-courses are further made freely available to educators from all around the world. KNILT is used by 1,000-2,000 users each day. During the COVID pandemic, the KNILT site has been used by a half million users from 223 countries, including many developing nations that lack educational resources. The University at Albany News Center created a news release featuring students' work on the KNILT project. See ETAP Students Create Mini-Courses to Empower 21st Century Educators (Feb. 8, 2022). Agencies that have endorsed and recommended KNILT mini-courses include the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, National Dropout Prevention Center, Ohio Department of Education, American Mathematical Society, and New York State Reading Association (NYSRA).