However, in my last three years of study I've gained a tremendous appreciation for the role of "problems" in the processes of science. Carl Bereiter extensively develops the idea of problems of understanding, and I had read a lot of his work, so I don't know why it took me so long to understand their unique role in knowledge building. Whereas questions serve as analytic tools for gaining understanding, problems are themselves objects of inquiry.
Being educated in the US science education research community, we don't use this term, "problems of understanding" but refer to the closely related "discrepant event." A discrepant event is an event that not only can not be explained by our current understandings, but one where our understanding trips in its effort to explain the event and that is cognitively disturbing! When this happens, Piaget describes our mind as being in a state of disequilibrium, and able to commence the arduous task of altering an established schema. Personally, I like Festinger's development of the idea of cognitive dissonance to explain the state of disequilibrium that results from a problem of understanding.
Bereiter might describe knowledge building as the discovering or creating of these problems of understanding and the subsequent, long-term, creative and collaborative process of solving them. Progressive inquiry then is a pedagogical approach describing and explaining how a class may be led--or grow--through cycles of activities as they discover, develop and solve these problems of understanding based on internal, external, and very importantly, distributed knowledge resources.
FLE4 is the 4th iteration of open source software designed to support a classroom's knowledge building efforts. It scaffolds a class' KB discourse in a threaded online discussion by requiring a student to choose the purpose of his/her comment before posting, and only 5 purposes (knowledge types) are allowed: Problem, My Explanation, Scientific Explanation, Process Observation and Summary.
I propose that these 5 knowledge types be expanded to 6 and that, as per a discussion with Minna Lakkala, "Scientific Explanation" be changed to "Source-based Explanation". The 6th knowledge type would be "Question", thus no longer conflating questions and problems. There are important metacognitive benefits, I believe, for students being able to distinguish between these distinct knowledge types, but won't argue that, here. However, briefly I'll distinguish these two KT's, here.