Knowledge Federation Can Transform Education

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Changes made possible

  • School winning against World of Warcraft [1]
  • From 'push' to 'pull' [2].
  • From 'knowledgeable' to 'knowledge-able' [3].


  1. Compare World of Warcraft's fascinating animation, shared problem solving through real-time cooperation, ability to chose one's own challenges, receiving instant recognition and rank, learning from peers... with a conventional high school or university course environment, to see why education may be losing the competition with game manufacturers over young people's attention. Then imagine an education that is as immersive, as interactive, as collaborative, as dynamic, as exciting, as... as World of Warcraft. What might help us realize this possibility? When an educator is not writing a textbook or creating an entire course, but only co-creating and maintaining a single lecture or part of a lecture in a globally federated course, and when he or she cooperates with animation and video artists (...) Here we have another instance of a general advantage of knowledge federation as social organization of knowledge work—it enables us to use technology to augment quality and organization rather than only quantity of information.
  2. And thereby also to lifelong, self-motivated, just-on-time, just-for-me... way of learning. Knowledge federation enables this change by providing a federated high-lelvel view of the field of study, serving as metaphorical 'mountain top view' on which a student can stand and see which direction to take (what can and needs to be learned), providing access to more detailed resources. The examples in our TMRA 2005 (LNAI 3873) article A Case for Polyscopic Structuring of Information show how leveled structuring of knowledge resources enabled us to restructure two University of Oslo courses, a conventional algorithm theory course and a re-designed flexible learning one.
  3. I.e. to developing people with qualities as the changing world may need them, see Michael Wasch's TEDx lecture From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-Able. This change is enabled by having students be part of a knowledge federation, and learning by federating knowledge. An additional advantage of this approach is that students — and instructors — end up being part of the knowledge-work ecosystem and contributing to it. My vignette At the University of Oslo we developed a university course model called FLEXPLEARN (for ‘flexible exploratory learning’)... is a brief account of the work we are doing and planning along this line in Knowledge Federation.

See also

  • In my blog post Ode to Self-Organization — Part Two I illustrate through story telling how education departed from a natural focus on development of abilities to inculcating semi-automatic ways of doing things through drill exercises under time pressure, see my four brief vignettes starting from In the last semester of the third grade of high school my grade in mathematics was a C. Learning through knowledge federation instills exactly the habits we want to support — conscious choice of what is being done, based on a big-picture understanding of context (the larger system) and needs, creativity, service to the community.

Back to 'Introducing Knowledge Federation'

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