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Research on computer-supported collaborative learning faces the challenge of extending student collaboration to higher social levels and enabling cross-boundary interaction. This study investigated collaborative knowledge building among four Grade 5 classroom communities that studied human body systems with the support of Idea Thread Mapper (ITM). While students in each classroom collaborated in their local (home) discourse space to investigate various human body functions, they generated reflective syntheses— “super notes”—to share knowledge progress and challenges in a cross-community meta-space. As a cross-community collaboration, students from the four classrooms further used the Super Talk feature of ITM to investigate a common problem: how do people grow? Data sources included classroom observations and videos, online discourse within each community, students’ super notes and records of Super Talk discussion shared across the classrooms, and student interviews. The results showed that the fifth-graders were able to generate high quality super notes to reflect on their inquiry progress for cross-classroom sharing. Detailed analysis of the cross-classroom Super Talk documented students’ multifaceted understanding constructed to understand how people grow, which built on the diverse ideas from each classroom and further contributed to enriching student discourse within each individual classroom. The findings are discussed focusing on how to approach cross-community collaboration as an expansive and dynamic context for high-level inquiry and continual knowledge building with technology support.


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