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Network Search: A New Way of Seeing the Education Knowledge Domain


by Daniel McFarland & Eric Klopfer — 2010

Background: The educational knowledge domain may be understood as a system composed of multiple, co-evolving networks that reflect the form and content of a cultural field. This paper describes the educational knowledge domain as having a community structure (form) based in relations of production (authoring) and consumption (referencing), and a cognitive structure (content) based in relations of ideas and concepts.

Purpose: We propose developing an online interactive system whereby the vast array of available knowledge artifacts can be mined for information reflective of these networks, and which can be visualized, measured, and explored over time. We argue that the creation of such a system will benefit the field of education manifold: it will greatly enhance individual learning of online materials; create more efficient searches; open access to knowledge creation and consumption to a wider public; enable greater practitioner involvement; facilitate direct study of the educational knowledge domain; and identify various means towards accelerated innovation.

Design: Building on the ideas of online communities, network visualizations, e-commerce, and advanced search engines, Scholar Practitioner Information Networks for Education (SPINE) not only facilitates access to education information resources, but also allows the community to view multiple sources of information in a relational context. At the heart of SPINE are multiple sources of information (journal articles, case studies, reviews, etc.), reviews of information, and ratings of reviewers. Connecting these sources are advanced analyses of production and consumption, allowing unique insights into established fields.

Conclusion: We illustrate that such a system is being developed in piecemeal fashion within other disciplines and propose a means by which they can be synthesized into a multi-network, interactive system for the field of education.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 112 Number 10, 2010, p. 2664-2702
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 12844, Date Accessed: 10/22/2017 8:03:45 AM

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About the Author
  • Daniel McFarland
    Stanford University
    E-mail Author
    DANIEL MCFARLAND is an associate professor of Education and (by courtesy) Sociology at Stanford University. Currently he is working on four projects that concern social dynamics of schooling: how actors use discursive tools to mobilize and rewire networks in classrooms; sociocultural analysis of network dynamics using adolescents’ interpersonal notes; how voluntary associations of youth influence future political participation; and simulation models of educational careers.
  • Eric Klopfer
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    ERIC KLOPFER is the Director of the MIT Teacher Education Program (http://education.mit.edu), and the Scheller Career Development Professor of Science Education and Educational Technology at MIT. Klopfer's research focuses on the development and use of computer games and simulations for building understanding of science and complex systems. Klopfer's work combines the construction of new software tools with research and development of new pedagogical supports that support the use of these tools in the classroom. He is the co-author of the book, "Adventures in Modeling: Exploring Complex, Dynamic Systems with StarLogo," and is working on a new book on handheld games and learning from MIT Press.
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