Inquiry Page and Community Inquiry Labs

inquiry_pageIn a previous post, I described the latest version of Community Inquiry Labs (CILabs). I’d like to add to that, based on some questions.

A precursor of CILabs, is the Inquiry Page. This site is still very active, open, and free. It offers an easy way to learn about inquiry-based teaching and learning, to search a large database of Inquiry Units, and to create your own, either de novo or a spin-offs of existing units. There are other features, including help with evaluation and quotes about learning.

CILabs just offers another way to do Inquiry Units, but in the context of the group support functions (blog, document center, group email, web pages, etc.). The two sites were developed at very different times, using different software (Perl vs. Drupal). A current effort is to make the connections between them more evident and to enable them to work synergistically.

Community Inquiry Labs

Inquiry cycle

Inquiry cycle

Community Inquiry Labs (aka CIL’s or CILabs) is rising again!

What is CILabs?

Drawing from the work of John Dewey and others, showing that education begins with the curiosity of the learner, CILabs promotes an iterative process of inquiry: asking questions, investigating solutions, creating new knowledge, discussing experiences, and reflecting on new-found knowledge, in a way that leads to new questions.

In addition to the standard features found on group support sites, such as Ning, Google, Yahoo, and Moodle, CILabs offers a means for building Inquiry Units based on the Inquiry Cycle. Also, unlike most university-supported software there is a secure means for users without university netid’s to participate. This is crucial for university-community collaborations.

CILabs (aka iLabs) are being used currently in courses such as Will Patterson’s Hip Hop as Community Informatics and Martin Wolske’s Intro to Network Systems. Projects such as Youth Community Informatics use it as do a variety of  other projects and organizations.

The redesign

Despite filling a need for many individuals and groups since 2003, use of CILabs fell off after a security hole was discovered in CILabs 3. That led to a temporary shutdown and a major redesign on the Drupal platform.

Thanks to the support of Robert Baird at CITES EdTech, a project to rebuild CILabs was led by Alan Bilansky with Julieanne Chapman as lead programmer. Claudia Serbanuta represented GSLIS and the CILabs user base. The new CILabs is now hosted by the University of Illinois College of Education, thanks to Ryan Thomas and John Barclay. This represents an unusual and successful collaboration across two colleges and CITES, with support from the Center for Global Studies, Community Informatics Initiative and the Illinois Informatics Institute.

I encourage you to give it a try now, and to let us know how to improve