Click the map above for schematics of the research areas, or the links below for narrative details:
Professor Bruce’s background in computer sciences reflects a continuing interest in the promise, as well as the perils, that information and communication technologies offer for understanding, representing, and transforming our lived experiences. That interest has led to explorations of a variety of questions regarding the nature of knowledge, democratic participation, community, technology, and literacy.
This work is discussed in books, including most recently, Libr@ries: Changing information space and practice (2006, with Cushla Kapitzke) and Literacy in the information age: Inquiries into meaning making with new technologies (2003), various articles, and presentations. It is enacted through projects of the Community Informatics Initiative (which he and Ann Bishop co-founded), and in the development of computer systems to support collaboration and community action, such as Quill, the Inquiry Page, and Community Inquiry Labs (iLabs).
Professor Bruce’s research goals include contributing to a conception of democratic education, meaning both the development of critical, socially-engaged citizens and of learning environments (schools, universities, libraries, museums, community centers, workplaces, …), which are themselves democratic. Aspects of this work include research on community inquiry through collaborative community-based work, the theory of inquiry-based learning, drawing especially upon scholarship of the American pragmatists and the history of Progressive Education, and research on the affordances and constraints of new media for learning, encapsulated by the term technology-enhanced learning.
Community inquiry. An important and growing area of work concerns the theory and practice of community inquiry. Much of this is through the Community Informatics Initiative and the development of collaborative tools such as iLabs. It also includes work with the Distributed Knowledge Research Collaborative, studying new forms of writing and other collaborative practices in scientific research. It also includes studies of intentional learning communities, such as GK-12 (school-university collaboration), Biology Student Workbench (a computational environment that facilitates bioinformatics research, teaching, and learning), Plants, Pathogens, & People, Physics Community Outreach, and Project SEARCH (Science Education and Research for Children).
Inquiry-based learning. This research has contributed to the development of theory for inquiry-based learning. It draws from John Dewey’s theory of inquiry and the broader pragmatist tradition, including the work of Jane Addams, William James, Ella Flagg Young, and others, and on studies situated in community action. This is represented in books (see below), and in papers such as “The disappearance of technology: Toward an ecological model of literacy,” “Credibility of the web: Why we need dialectical reading,” “Literacy technologies: What stance should we take?,” “How media ecologies can address diverse student needs,” and other publications.
Technology-enhanced learning. Another important focus has been studies of new literacy practices, for example, the learner-centered taxonomy of media use. It is represented in books including Network-based classrooms: Promises and realities (Bruce, Peyton, & Batson, 1993) and Electronic Quills: A situated evaluation of using computers for writing in classrooms (Bruce & Rubin, 1993).
It also includes building environments to support learning. These include the Inquiry Page, which is a website, a set of communities, and a research project on inquiry; Biology Student Workbench, an interactive resource to support investigations in molecular biology and evolution; Chickscope, a project in which students engage with a community of inquiry as they use remote instrumentation to study chicken embryology; Quill, tools and environments to support literacy learning; Statistics Workshop, an interactive system for learning statistical reasoning; and Discoveries, a series of CD-ROM-based multimedia environments for supporting students’ inquiries in science and social studies.