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Synergeia Version 2

Introduction

Synergeia is a software system developed within the ITCOLE research project funded by the European Union in 2001-2003. It is designed to support collaborative knowledge building in classrooms of schools in several countries.
BSCL (Basic Support for Collaborative Learning) is the set of functions and interfaces that adapts the BSCW software* to collaborative knowledge building in K-12 classrooms. This includes the function to create personal, group and course learning places and to register users in these with specific roles. It also includes the knowledge building interface, sets of thinking types and support for negotiation.
* BSCW - This is the Basic Support for Cooperative Work system. It is a web-based system designed to support teams of adults professionals working together and sharing documents. It provides mechanisms for uploading, downloading, versioning and archiving of many kinds of documents.

Benefits for Teachers and Students

Synergeia has been designed to be flexible so that teachers with different curricular goals and pedagogical approaches can adjust it to their needs.
Synergeia provides teachers and students with a shared, structured, web-based work space in which collaborative learning can take place, documents and ideas can be shared, discussions can be stored and knowledge artifacts can be developed and presented. Furthermore teachers and students are provided with tools (BSCW) for communicating and working with partners on a common task. Teachers and students are offered a whiteboard, accompained by a chat window, to work together simultaneously.
Teachers can structure, seed and guide work in Synergeia to facilitate knowledge building in their classrooms. This program can be useful to build up students’ Portfolio.
Students and teaches are allowed to work both asynchronously and synchronously.
This learning environment is very successful for those students who may be to shy for joining in a discussion. 

Personal working space

Pedagogical background

The main pedagogical concepts in Synergeia are:

  1.  Collaborative Knowledge Building: new knowledge will be created through the investigations and discourse of the group. There is emphasis on sharing, critiquing and building upon each others’ ideas to arrive at a deeper knowledge of a topic.
  2. Virtual Learning Places: a set of workspaces on the Internet where people can share ideas, documents, web links and other objects. Teachers and students can create new places whenever they want for any special needs they have.
  3. Knowledge Building Areas: knowledge building proceeds largely through discussion.
  4. Thinking types: discussion within the knowledge buiding areas is scaffolded with a set of “thinking type” categories for the notes.

Customizing a new Knowledge Building Area

Knowledge Building Area

Tools

1.      MapTool – This is a collaborative whiteboard that students in a group or course can work on simultaneously (synchronously) to construct concept maps and other simple diagrams. It includes a chat window for coordinating and discussing the drawing. The maps are stored in BSCL learning places.

2.      The Instant Messages is another synchronous tool in Synergeia. It allows users to communicate with some students without sharing the messages with the rest of the group. With this tool the users can send messages to one or more users that are connected to the tool and belong to the same group.

Technical requirements

The BSCW server is written in Python. To run a BSCW server you need a Python interpreter for your machine (including the standard Python libraries) as well as a standard Web server. The BSCW server runs on
-  Unix (including Solaris, SunOS, Linux, DEC OSF, HP-UX, Irix, BSD/OS and AIX) Š
- Windows NT (version 4.0 or above)

In Version 2 of Synergeia, the system is run for all schools from a central Internet server in Germany. The system Administrators in Germany will take care of setting up and mantaining the system. It is also possible for schools to set up their own Synergeia servers.

Target age
Secondary School

Click on the names below if you want to submit a presentation:
patrizia corasaniti
maria rosaria chiummo:



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