12. To work on paper: il ruolo degli artefatti nella costruzione di conoscenza

Giuseppe Ritella, Kai Hakkarainen


The aim of this article is to reflect on the role that artifacts play in the process of Knowledge Building (KB). Essentially, the knowledge building aims at the development of objects called conceptual artifacts. In environments as Knowledge Forum, it is possible to create “worlds of cultural knowledge”, in which the ideas of the participants of a Knowledge Building Community are shaped as texts and/or multimedia objects. Those objects, rather than representing crystallized knowledge, become instruments of mediation that transform both the practices and the results of knowledge building. Starting from the pioneering work of Vygotskij, the concept of mediation has been broadly investigated and discussed, but not always the material aspects of the knowledge building practices have been considered as a crucial element of the KB. In fact, the founders of the KB have focused their theory on the ideas of the students. Moreover, the use of the metaphor of learning as participation has made researchers stress aspects related to the dialogue between participants, leaving on the background the role that concrete objects play in the process, either as objects of activity or as mediating instruments. An interesting attempt to integrate some aspects of the materialism of activity theory with the principles of KB has arisen around the concept of “trialogic learning”. Following this approach, KB do not results merely from the work of the mind or from the dialogue between people, but require the presence of a third element that become the center of the entire process, i. e. the world of artifacts created and/or used as instruments of mediation by participants.

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