Knowledge: Knowledge transfer


Teacher and child

The term ‘Teacher’ is meant here in the most general sense. It may imply a person communicating knowledge to a class full of students or it may imply one person (the teacher) giving (travel) directions to another person.

One way a teacher may communicate knowledge is to try to paint a reference image in the minds of the students and then to gradually add the new knowledge. It is of the utmost importance that the student has the necessary background knowledge which will enable him or her to acquire the new knowledge; for example, it may not be possible for the student to create the reference image from past experience. In a one to one situation, teaching must therefore be an interactive process. In a many to one situation, the necessary interactivity will be restricted.

The teaching of abstract concepts such as mathematics will usually require the support of other methods and must also involve practice.


Pencil and Pad

Writing is a well established method for communicating knowledge. However, a more recent issue concerning the written word comes from the use of computer screens.

There are many potential barriers to efficient reading from screens. These may involve the physical characteristics of the display device such as flicker. They may include colour, font, justification, spacing etc.

It is known that the use of scroll bars makes reading more difficult, paging seems to be more effective.

In general, communicating expert knowledge through the written word seems to invoke verbosity and jargon in the author. The use of plain English and a concentration on the key features would help the dissemination of knowledge.

Digital Media

children sat in front of PCs

Both audio and video have been used as separate knowledge transfer vehicles and both offer some advantages over written knowledge. However, to make more effective use of audio, video and text, they can all be brought together in what is known as a multimedia system.

Multimedia offers a wide bandwidth for knowledge communication. It can employ many human senses and knowledge can be presented in many ways. The two main cautionary notes are Information Overload and Motivation. Too much information in a short space of time can lead to a low rate of knowledge transfer. Multimedia may be seen as a way of eliminating the teacher from the knowledge communication process, this may indeed be possible if the learner's motivation is high and remains high. If not, multimedia will fail.

The Internet offers the potential for the largest explosion of knowledge communication in recent times. It can make an unprecedented amount of knowledge available to a learner at any time. The internet and its associated technology will have a large impact on knowledge communication.

Unfortunately, there are still some difficulties with the internet. These include the difficulty in finding the knowledge required and it can also be difficult for a learner to structure a learning programme based on the internet and achieve anything more than an overview of a subject.