A New Epistemological Context for Education: Knowledge Management in Public Schools

By Stevenson, Joseph Martin | Journal of Instructional Psychology, September 2000 | Go to article overview

A New Epistemological Context for Education: Knowledge Management in Public Schools


Stevenson, Joseph Martin, Journal of Instructional Psychology


Knowledge management is an increasingly common application in the corporate sector for leveraging intellectual capital and fostering organizational learning. The author advocates this approach for public schools to improve student achievement.

State governments should design statewide legislation and develop public policy to build upon its most valuable resource, the propagating intellectual capital of the republic. That is, the student consumers and clients who enroll in each state's public school system, and who will contribute to the enhancement of the future workforce and the ongoing development of regional economic conditions. Over the past twenty years, Florida for example, has spent more than $150 billion on public education. This historical investment is compounded by a state in which nearly 30% of its population is considered to be illiterate and continues to rank in the lower percentile of rankings among the other 49 states. These statistics portray a startling economic and environmental condition for the state's future. And what is needed is an educational infrastructure and leadership delivery that builds on the basic principles and processes of "knowledge management." Policymakers and stakeholders must focus all of its efforts on advancing student learning and managing more effectively the knowledge that could be learned by the best practices for improved learning and higher achievement. The purpose of this paper is to propose the design and development of action research and a knowledge management infrastructure for public education. Linkage Research, Inc. defines knowledge management as follows in the private sector:

* Creating, finding and collecting knowledge and best practices;

* Sharing and understanding those practices so they can be used;

* Adapting and applying those practices to situations.

Most state's current ranking systems of schools, on one hand, publicizes controversial and unsettling information about many of its schools. On the other hand, the knowledge learned from the best practices used in the best classrooms can provide formative data to help manage schools--particularly instruction--more efficiently and effectively. Modern school leaders should make data-driven decision making a top priority in instructional leadership. Educators, policymakers and other stakeholders should do this by:

* First, defining knowledge management as the collection of knowledge on best practices or lessons learned; the sharing of those practices and lessons to those who can use them; and the application of the practices or lessons for subsequent innovation and/or intervention in the classroom;

* Second, designing a technological infrastructure that collects and disseminates data results from (a) the best practices from schools ranked in the higher percentile (state and national) with successful testing outcomes in English, mathematics, reading, and science and (b) the lessons learned from the worst practices in teaching--particularly in urban settings where there are the lowest testing scores;

* Third, downloading (online and onsite) these information references and resources to educators, in taxonomical formats, for subsequent intervention by teachers with principals, in the classroom with accompanying suggestions for implementing pedagogical teaching techniques to supplement the foundations of instructional leadership;

* Fourth, developing incentive-based in-service training activities, educational programs, and professional development concerning the use of knowledge management to support learning-centered, instructional leadership; and

* Fifth, delivering a new and different educational initiative based on principles of knowledge management that encompasses centralized information resources for the decentralized distribution of the best practices and lessons learned for advancing academic achievement between students and their teachers--the unit of analysis and lows of control. …

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