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Name of Collaboratory :


Inquiry Page (Community Inquiry Lab)


Logo :


URL :  

Collaboratory Status :

Operational   Start Date : 1997 End Date : Info Last Updated : Sun, Dec 7 2003 6:01am PST

Primary Collaboratory Function :

  Virtual Community of Practice  

Secondary Collaboratory Functions :

  Community Data Systems, Virtual Learning Community  

Domain(s) :

  Education, Pedagogy, Social Science  

Brief Description of the Collaboratory :


The Inquiry Page started 7 ñ 8 years ago and grew out of the needs of a community of educators at the University of Illinoisí(Urbana ñ Champaign) School of Education, who were pursuing inquiry-based learning strategies in their instruction. There was a need for students in education courses to be able to share and collaborate online. Since then, the tools and the technology have evolved to meet a much wider range of needs. Now, the Collaboratoryís main function is to support construction of individual ìCommunity Inquiry Labs (CILs)î. Any registered user can create a CIL for use by their own groups. An Inquiry Unit is a way to represent the process of problem solving. Each unit starts with a guiding question and provides a space for activities of Investigation, Creation, Discussion, and Reflection.

Users create customized CILs through the use of what Daniel Schneider at the University of Geneva ( terms "tools" and "bricks." Users select the "tools" and "bricks", they want to include in their unit, such as a calendar feature, threaded discussion lists or file storage, which they need to build their own collaboratories. Because it is customizable the software can support such diverse communities of users as a scientific researcher centers (the Distributed Knowledge Research Collaborative (DKRC) and a communtiy group (the Latino Student Coalition).

At present there are approximately 271 CILs and about 401 users. CILs have been developed to support:
ï Published student work products
ï Locus for collaborative investigation
ï Policy discussion thread
ï Community action plan
ï Multimedia digital library document

The site that hosts all CILs receives an average of 19441 web hits everyday.

Project leader Chip Bruce believes that the lack of one main funding source has been an overall advantage, allowing the group to be more open and expand in different directions.

Project governance is open and unstructured. The management is structured around two weekly meetings. Inquiry meetings take place on Tuesday evenings from 5-6 pm CST, where people come to the talk about upcoming conferences, interesting projects, and the process of inquiry. On Thursday mornings, a technical meeting takes place where new design issues and technical problems such as bug fixes are discussed.


Access to Instruments :

  the Collaboratoryís main function now is to support construction of individual Community Inquiry Labs (CILs) uing their customer community support tools.  

Access to Information Resources :


Access to People as Resources :

  Users communicate with project leaders through weekly meetings as well as informal contact through email, etc.  

Funding Agency or Sponsor :

Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)
Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS)
Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE)
North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL)

Notes on Funding Agencies/Sponsors:
The project operates as a community of practice. The project has no formal funding arrangements but often receives funding indirectly through participating projects that fund expansions to the software. For instance, a Science and Technology Center project at the University of Illinois has recently begun using the CILís basic structure and technology, and using their NSF funds they are further enhancing the capabilities of the CIL by developing more sophisticated and customized tools to better meet their needs.


Notes on Participants/Organizations:
Inquiry Page Partners: create resources and projects that can be used by teachers for inquiry-oriented lessons and includes:
ï U of Chicago Lab School
ï LIS 391, Literacy in the Information Age
ï Biology Digital Library
ï Biology Student Workbench
ï BugScope
ï Chickscope
ï Dialogue in Methods of Education
ï Distributed Knowledge Research Collaborative
ï Living on the Prairie
ï Math Science Technology Education
ï Paseo Boricua Community Library
ï Plants Pathogens People
ï RiverWeb
ï VR savvy
ï Puerto Rican Cultural Center

Other associated organizations:
- Community Inquiry Lab (CIL)
- Distributed Knowledge Research Collaborative (DKRC)


Communications Technology Used :

  The Community Inquiry Lab software currently supports inclusion of these 'bricks', or features:
Sub CILs
Document Center
Private BB Forum
Task List
Address Book
Short URL
See for detailed descriptions of these and potential future "bricks".

Technical Capabilities :

  Management of technical resources
Access control/login facilities
Support for transition between synch and asynch
Directory of services/experts/resources, Workflow management, Shared calendars
Asynchronous object sharing
General search capability, Common file space
Asynchronous conversation
Threaded discussion, Web forms
  Key Articles :  

Bruce, B. C., Carragher, B. O., Damon, B. M., Dawson, M. J., Eurell, J. A., Gregory, C. D., et al. (1997). Chickscope: an interactive MRI classroom curriculum innovation for K-12. Computers & Education, 29, 73-87.

Karen J. Lunsford & Bertram C. Bruce (2001). Collaboratories: Working together on the Web Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 45(1), .


Project-reported performance data :

  105, 154 visitors since 4th November 2001 (based on site meter)
There are about 3,000 inquiry units and about 700-800 users (approx number given by Prof. Bruce)
  Structural Diagram :      
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