A revolution in the sharing of knowledge…

Transforming e-Knowledge
TABLE OF CONTENTS     What is e-Knowledge?   © SCUP 2003
  Page 19      

Pervasive Technology Changes How We “Experience” Knowledge (continued)



Chapter 1

What is e-Knowledge?

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What will move us to that new level? We need to make life simpler for learners and for teachers/mentors. We can help them to make far more sense of the world and to deploy far more of their taken-for-granted knowledge (like their ability as children to make intuitive judgments using feedback from their eyes and their hands as they build a model from a kit of parts). In education today, it is all too common to be faced by an over-full syllabus of doubtful worth, including many tasks that make little sense or have already been mastered , hence the prevalence of rote learning and surface (rather than deep) learning. The incidence of such pathologies will decrease hugely if teachers and learners have ready access to ways to simplify the world and to speed up our coming-to-grips with new information.

Tools now exist to reduce complexity and increase our understanding of what we do. Educationalists take surprisingly little account of this. By contrast, industry is quick to adopt such tools, since they can simplify tasks that were previously the province of world experts but are now possible for less-skilled people, at speed. An example is drug design, where chemists want to know whether it would be easy or hard to synthesize a prospective new molecule from possible pre-cursor components. They can tell this if the available data gets presented in ways that allow them to use sight and touch. Drug design then becomes almost analogous to a child playing with Lego™ bricks. Chemists can look at the shape of each possible component, juxtapose them to see if they look as if they might fit, then wear feedback gloves to see whether the components “snap” together.


Such visualization tools provide an illustration of emerging and more powerful ways to engage quickly and effectively with data, information, and knowledge. Quantum leaps in the knowledge experience await the deployment in education of a combination of ready access to tools that increase our engagement with the knowledge that our society needs us to have, plus tools that allow us to more readily share knowledge, spot gaps in our knowledge, and then find suppliers of that knowledge (or if necessary, create new knowledge). Wide access to such tools is becoming more and more likely because of several trends: the commodification of those tools is making them affordable; the emergence of pervasive technology environments; new capabilities of the World Wide Web, including the Semantic Web; and, the next generation of knowledge-sharing tools. These advances will enable knowledge sharing to achieve the accelerated ease of use necessary for true transformation to be achieved.

Achieving Amenity in Knowledge Sharing. This less-than-revolutionary performance of first-wave technologies is a familiar pattern. History has shown that transformative deployment and application of technology takes time. In the near future we can expect faster, better, cheaper, and more engaging versions of knowledge-sharing technologies, infrastructures, and protocols to emerge. Even more importantly, the technology will become convenient, easy, and reliable. But it will be over time that knowledge sharing environments will achieve amenity. John Seely Brown asserts that when technology achieves amenity, it becomes invisible. It becomes part of the user’s world, and the user is absorbed into its world, easily, and seamlessly.


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  In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.

Jan L.A. van
de Snepscheut