Towards a knowledge-creation learning process

[9/5/2017 2:46:13 PM]

AMMONNEWS - By Marwan A. Alshammari - The excellence of any education system has been shown to greatly aid the advancement of civilised nations. It has been a critical factor in all success stories of countries around the world, especially the West.

A great deal of this success is contingent upon the outcomes of the different educational levels, starting from the primary school and continuing all the way up to the graduate levels of education where focused knowledge can be produced, complemented and reproduced; it later becomes input in another process, that of implementation, in which knowledge is put into play in a practical manner by all involved (companies, governments, society, etc..).

Many teachers and university lecturers see classroom learning merely as a place in which they share their knowledge with their students. This is the traditional thought that has not helped us move forward in many regards, especially in knowledge creation.

It is true that knowledge sharing is one of the primary goals of educational institutions, training programmes, and leadership development courses, but it is no longer the only primary goal of education.
Teachers and university professors in almost all undeveloped and under-developed countries continually feed information to their students without giving them the time to digest, process, imagine or reflect, or without pushing them to challenge the given information, explore the shared knowledge or add to it, use it in creating new knowledge and building a broader perspective on the subjects addressed in the class so that students can then develop new thoughts that can later become new knowledge.

We are stuck with the forming and performing stages of Tuckman (1965) model of group development, sending and reception model of communication without paying attention to the importance of having critical discussion and constructive processing of the knowledge being shared.

We neglect the importance of challenging and motivating, and thus we are far beyond the advanced nations in the field of knowledge creation.

There is no doubt that the existing view of learning was at some point the key driver of “knowledge-sharing revolution” in the early 1990s.

Then, the goal was to make knowledge more accessible through knowledge wells that stored knowledge to inform others who might have needed the know how relevant to their interests, so the focus was on spreading the existing knowledge and making it easily available for consumption by the interested parties.
Without demeaning the worth of knowledge sharing, scholars and knowledge experts have suggested that the most important form of learning today is creating novel knowledge.

Societies are increasingly being challenged by circumstances that go beyond the schoolbooks and functional instructions, and require leaders to invent on the spot, developing state-of-the-art methods that were not used before.

In a swiftly moving world, much of the novel knowledge evolves as a tacit knowledge — knowledge that is in our heads but that we have difficulties articulating to ourselves, much less to others.

This tacit knowledge evolves as we encounter new situations, and it is often tremendously valuable because it reflects our first-hand experience with the changes around us, but it is much harder to access and spread, let alone use it in creating unique and novel knowledge by collaborating with others.

It typically cannot be put in bullet points or expressed via PowerPoint slides and shared with others.
The way to initiate a knowledge-creation learning process begins with exposing our students to a combination of knowledge sources from differing as well as related knowledge spheres such as science, technology, engineering and math, in addition to their major field of interest.

It also requires that we do not lock their minds by adjusting their thoughts to fit the situation in the world around them; rather, we, professors and teachers, should encourage their critical thinking, eliminate the limits we used to put on their imagination, and inspire, motivate and push them to think uniquely.
That will help them build up the “associative fluency”, which is their ability to creatively connect any two or more seemingly unrelated pieces of information to come up with a unique interpretation, explanation, outcome or any relevant and novel knowledge.

The aim of today’s learning is to create new tacit knowledge. This kind of learning is best achieved in classrooms, labs and small learning forums that bring together students with diverse skills, perspectives, backgrounds and social views, and that help them collaborate on the subjects being discussed, provide their inputs after they have digested the theoretical information in the textbooks and then take the knowledge they learned so they can make practical implications.

The learned knowledge then can be used in a brainstorming process that leads to creating new knowledge.
Learning in small groups such as the classrooms is faster when the members of this learning process are well connected, have mutual trust, and common passion for knowledge sharing and knowledge creation.
Therefore, it is important that faculty show they students the respect they need to get onboard with a strong passion towards the learning process.

Trust-based relationships are very important and facilitate the learning process.
We are living in a rapidly changing world where graduates with unique skills, abilities and knowledge are highly desired in the job market.

Skills in this changing world have shorter life span, so instead of feeding graduates periodic knowledge, we should focus on preparing them well so they can be knowledge creators and knowledge builders.
We should also focus on taming the primary competences that can quicken learning so that new skills can be more swiftly attained.

The focus should be on dynamic capabilities, such as inquisitiveness, critical thinking, risk taking, imagination, creativity, and social and emotional intelligence.

Once we have developed those capabilities, our students will be well prepared to quickly advance their skill sets in ways that make them desirable in the domestic and global market, and should be able to add value in any workplace they would join.

We should focus our efforts on challenging the conventional beliefs about learning, which were dominant in a stable world, not in our highly dynamic world.

We need to rethink all our learning/teaching processes, means, tools and systems. We need strategies that focus on knowledge creation rather than knowledge sharing and feeding only.

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