Over the last few weeks we have been analysing and debating the adaptation of the education system to the information and knowledge society in which we live.
Without wishing to be exhaustive, we are going to review some considerations on 3 essential aspects of what we could call the “Knowledge value chain”, from its creation, to its transfer and its enhancement.
The Creation and Distribution of Knowledge.
The Internet is changing many things and one of them is that any person or institution can become a potential creator of content and knowledge. Moreover, the collaborative creation of knowledge has reached dimensions never seen before.
Let’s think about Wikipedia as an example of the possibilities of collaborative knowledge creation through the web. This successful example will become more and more common thanks to new technologies.
Today the availability of educational resources is almost unlimited. Open Educational Resources is one of the initiatives that have had the greatest impact. Thanks to it, anyone who wants to can access for free to huge amounts of knowledge generated by hundreds of universities around the world.
One of the first universities to participate in the initiative was MIT, through its initiative. Other examples are the iTunes University, which offers more than 350,000 courses from many universities (Oxford, Stanford, Yale…) and the Khan Academy.
The transfer of knowledge.
The traditional model in which a teacher teaches class after class to a group of attentive listeners is changing radically.
One for all, all for one and one for one.
It is no longer necessary that all students receive the same knowledge. Today’s technology makes it possible for each student to receive his or her own “personalized knowledge ration”, depending on his or her interests, progress, individualized road map, etc.
The knowledge long tail
The knowledge repository continues to grow, and does so exponentially. We have never had access to so much information and so much knowledge. The conventional model of large, long courses (e.g. a monolithic university course) is likely to give way to a model in which each student configures his or her own portfolio made up of a multitude of small courses, each of which transmits a corresponding dose of knowledge.
Learning by trying.
On the web there are many tools available (simulators, video games, etc.) that allow learning by trying. In many cases, in order to transmit certain pieces of knowledge, it is more effective for the student to discover it by himself by playing or simulating a real situation. It will be increasingly common for students to use this type of tool.
Access to experts.
New communication technologies facilitate contact between people. Also between the student and the teacher. And also between the student and the world experts on the subject of study. Just a few years ago, consulting a leading world figure or collaborating on a specific topic with an elite group seemed almost impossible.
Today, thanks to social networks, chats, video conferences, etc., it is within the reach of many.
Enhancement of knowledge and know-how.
Education is fundamental in our lives. A good education provides us with almost everything. It helps us to communicate, to relate and to progress in our personal development. A good education provides us with a feeling of self-fulfilment and self-esteem. And, a good education should also make it easier for us to enter the job market, to have stability in the workplace and to develop professionally.
The recognition and appreciation of the knowledge and know-how acquired during the university period is vital to achieve a quick and good incorporation to the labour market. Until now, this know-how, formed not only by the contents acquired but also by communication skills, leadership, innovation, group work, etc., was not recognized until years later the incorporation to the labor market.
On many occasions this generates a vicious circle: the initial lack of recognition of the know-how of university students makes their incorporation into the labour market difficult. It is only after a certain period of work in an organisation that the know-how acquired during the university stage is valued and recognised.
Today, the web 2.0 and the online world in general help to break this vicious circle. The participation of students in blogs and social networks promotes the socialization of their knowledge and forges their online reputation. These are decisive components for improving their employability.
In short, by reviewing this “knowledge value chain” we have seen how the application of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) is going to radically change how we learn, how we teach and how we value the knowledge acquired.