Designing and building an on-line community: The struggle to support sociability in the inquiry learning forum

Sasha A. Barab, James G. MaKinster, Julie A. Moore, Donald J. Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

141 Scopus citations


In this paper we describe the sociotechnical structures of the Inquiry Learning Forum (ILF), a Web-based professional development tool designed to support a community of inservice and preservice mathematics and science teachers creating, sharing, and improving inquiry-based pedagogical practices. Founded in our previous research and consistent with our pedagogical commitment, the technical structures of the ILF have been designed around a "visiting-the-classroom" metaphor. This decision was based on our belief that teachers need to be full participants in, and owners of, their virtual space for meaningful interaction to occur. The hallmark of this environment is that teachers with a broad range of experience and expertise can come together in an on-line environment to observe, discuss, and reflect on pedagogical theory and practice anchored to actual teaching vignettes. The goal of this paper is to share how we instantiated our pedagogical commitments and to describe the challenges we faced during the design, development, implementation, and analysis of the ILF. Toward this end, we walk the reader through our design and implementation process, highlighting our change in focus from usability to sociability issues, and movement from conceiving the ILF as an electronic structure to a sociotechnical interaction network.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-96
Number of pages26
JournalEducational Technology Research and Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


Dive into the research topics of 'Designing and building an on-line community: The struggle to support sociability in the inquiry learning forum'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this