Prof. Marlene Scardamalia

José Vasconcelos World Award of Education 2006
Field of Work: Contribution in the field of Social education, “Knowledge Society”
Date: 28 October 2006
Place of Ceremony: Manuel M. Ponce Hall, Palace of Fine Arts
Host Institution: National Polytechnic Institute
Host Country: México City, México

The José Vasconcelos World Award of Education has been established as an acknowledgement to those who have the all important labor of teaching, underlying basis for our present civilization.

Marlene Scardamalia has been selected as the recipient of this award for her remarkable contributions in the field of social education, revolutionizing schooling by engaging students more directly and productively in creative work based on knowledge and ideas. In this way, her achievements have focused on the use of new knowledge media, promoting new opportunities of higher education for the general public and the betterment of our societies.

Prof. Scardamalia’s work has produced insights into the social, cultural and cognitive processes which underlie literacy, expertise and innovation. Her career as teacher, researcher and innovator has converged on the challenge of democratizing the innovative potential of all members of society. With the advent of the “Knowledge Society,” this goal has taken on vast importance. To be fully-fledged members, citizens must be able to work creatively with knowledge and ideas.

Prof. Scardamalia has provided intellectual leadership for teachers, researchers and educational innovators worldwide, making cutting-edge research and innovative capacity accessible to students and workers of all ages, backgrounds, locations and disciplines.

The International Institute for Knowledge Innovation and Technology (IKIT), which Prof. Scardamalia directs and co-founded with her collaborator Carl Bereiter, is the basis for a worldwide network of educational teachers and innovators committed to extending the limits of the possible in education. She created the Knowledge Society Network and Knowledge Forum® software, which provides the infrastructure for this network. The Institute for Knowledge Innovation and Technology conducts research, develops technology and helps build communities with the aim of progressing beyond “best practice” in education, knowledge work and knowledge creation.

The Computer Supported Intentional Learning Environments (CSILE) were invented by Prof. Scardamalia and introduced experimentally into schools in 1986. It was the first networked knowledge-building environment for education. The second-generation version of this technology, Knowledge Forum®, is in use in 19 countries, in education, health, business and professional organizations. As an indication of the power of its underlying concept, Knowledge Forum®, remains the only collaborative environment that can be used effectively with students ranging from kindergarten to graduate school and for purposes as diverse as knowledge management, professional development, health care, inter-professional team-building, police academy training, and software design.

The term “knowledge building,” first put forth by Scardamalia in a 1988 conference paper, now appears in more than 400,000 Worldwide Web documents and carries constructivist ideas to a new level of incisiveness and force.

From 1996 till 2002, Prof. Scardamalia was the K-12 theme leader for Canada’s TeleLearning Network of Centres of Excellence. Her contributions to teaching and the advancement of education have been recognized through several high-profile awards and honours. She was elected Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, was the second Canadian to be elected to the U.S. National Academy of Education and has received lifetime achievement awards and fellowships for foundational work in knowledge building and the Knowledge Society Network.

Prof. Scardamalia has done research and published in the areas of cognitive development, the psychology of writing, intentional learning, the nature of expertise, and educational uses of computers. She also headed a project on “Cognitive Bases of Educational Reform,” out of which grew the “Schools for Thought” programme, notable for its synthesis of major educational initiatives. Prof. Scardamalia and Carl Bereiter have recently established a foundation that aims to “extend the frontiers of the possible through education”.

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