Technology in Education: Looking toward 2020

By Raymond S. Nickerson; Philip P. Zodhiates | Go to book overview

Such a Cultural Information Transfer System might even preserve a person's or organization's traces of problem-solving process at an abstract level of analysis, including such details as problem definitions and considered, attempted, and successful mappings of prior knowledge to their current problem situation. These possibilities presume, realistically, that substantial parts of the problem solving will have taken place with computer tools (e.g., financial planning, writing, decision analysis). Wherever an individual has made a mapping between prior knowledge and what they consider to be a new problem, they could register this mapping in the system. Keyword and concept-level "transfer" entry and browsing capabilities would be available for a user's documentation of transfer traces or for directed search through the cultural knowledge traces of knowledge-function relations discovered by others through prior transfer experience and recorded on the system. Individuals could do opportunistic browsing in hopes of being reminded of transfer-relevant knowledge one has, or that one could learn about on the system.

Although considerably speculative in conception, the goal of such a system would be to provide at least an approximate medium of functional knowledge description and exchange for aggregating knowledge transfer experience across individuals. Individuals within a culture may have different readings of a problem situation, and the knowledge they each consider as appropriate for transfer application may be different. But at least they share a common language for negotiating the situation's meaning that can then be used to share and critically examine the similarities and differences of their perspectives.

Indeed, it has been suggested that it is language, and in particular, descriptions of a task situation across occasions in similar terms, that provides the coding device for capturing a cultures theory of what goes with what--which is then used as a universal resource for organizing an individual's knowledge transfer ( Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition, 1983, p. 341). If this is true, then lexically based information-management systems for aggregating the transfer experiences of a culture, utilizing AI techniques such as those exploited by Malone's Lens Project, should ultimately allow for the expansion of the symbolic environments an individual experiences and make more effective knowledge transfer possible.


Conclusions

The analyses of the chapter result in situating knowledge transfer as an interpretive problem. We have seen that transfer is not so susceptible to an analysis that reifies "common elements" in problem-solving situations. What observations have led to this conclusion?

The first observation was that transfer is selective. "Appropriate transfer" is socioculturally defined for particular purposes, tasks, and thinking situations. When transfer involves more than straightforward knowledge access and ap-

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