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Insight in Knowledge and Learning


September, 2002
By Bruce Zhang


Knowledge is the understanding of a subject. Learning is the process of acquiring knowledge, or gaining understanding. We learn by experiencing or by studying the accumulation of existing knowledge represented by a particular language.

Learning a language is much more than memorizing new vocabulary. The heart of language learning is really to understand the meanings and structures of the subject conveyed by the language.


Knowledge and Learning

Knowledge The concept of knowledge is related to the concept of data and the concept of information. Data are raw facts in isolation. Information is data that has been organized to be useful or meaningful to someone. Even though there is no consensus on the definition of knowledge over the centuries due to the multi-facets of knowledge implications. Our definition of Knowledge is aimed to help learning.

  Knowledge is structural and behavioral representation of the world.

Thus, knowledge about a subject is about what it is composed of and/or how it behaviors. Application of knowledge often changes the course of our thinking and/or action.

Learning is a process of acquiring knowledge. Learning is a process of integrating new knowledge into an individual or organization's existing knowledge base. When a person had learned/acquired new knowledge, he/she is supposed to be able to response to the same environment different than before.


Knowledge Structures and Learning Aids

The structural and behavioral definition of knowledge enables us to identify generic or common structural and behavioral patterns or elements of knowledge in general. It further helps us to recognize appropriate learning strategies for each type of knowledge elements to enhance learning, or knowledge acquisition process.

It is hard to claim the completeness of identifying types of knowledge elements. However, concept, system/components, procedure/steps, principle, and classification could be used to structure majority of knowledge in any domain or subject matter.

Concept A concept is an identity of a group of objects, events that share some common characteristics. Most of the words in a language are concepts. A concept consists of two parts: (1) an identity and (2) the meaning (description or definition) associated with the identity which is often expressed by a group of other concepts.

Whether you have knowledge of a concept is whether you have the ability of assigning an appropriate identity or label to given scenarios or phenomenon. With the correct or proper identification of a situation, we are able to retrieve and apply other knowledge related to that concept to solve problems or guide our actions. The challenge of understanding a concept is that one concept may look similar to other concepts from some aspects or perspectives. A concept is the basic building block of more complex knowledge structures. It's best understood in the context.

A frequently used learning aid for acquiring concepts is multiple choice exercise to help learners to distinguish one concept or definition from others.

Classification A classification is a group of closely related concepts in hierarchy. They are grouped together in hierarchy because of the similarity, but the purpose of the grouping is to show the differences.

A frequently used learning aid for classification is grouping exercise. In the exercise, learners select a list of objects (lower level concepts in the hierarchy) into a number of categories (higher level concepts).

Procedure and Steps A procedure is a sequence of steps. Procedural Knowledge allows people to performance actions step by step. The focus of learning is to ensure that learners don't think/act in wrong sequence.

A common learning aid for understanding procedure/steps is to allow learners to restore a random set of steps to sequential order.

Principle or Rules Principles are explanations or predictions of why things happened in the world. Principles involve relationships between concepts. A principle consists of preconditions and consequences. If preconditions meet, then consequences occur.

A useful learning aid is to select appropriate consequences based on preconditions.

System vs. Components A system is a group of components interacting together to achieve common goals. The components, behaviors (interaction) and goals are often described by concepts. System is a complex knowledge structure. The system element captures both structural and behavioral aspects of a complex real world or soft identity. Upon identifying a phenomenon as a particular structure of a system, we have the opportunity to use a set of well-structured knowledge at our disposal for analysis and decision making.

Acquiring knowledge about a system structure, at minimum, should be able to successfully identify a complete list of system components, and distinguish one component, or steps from others.

Much insight can be gained by transforming a source document (not well-structured) into well structured knowledge elements and their relationship.


Knowledge Levels and Software Support

Knowledge Types capture the structural and behavioral differences of various types of knowledge elements. Knowledge levels measure the proficiency of applying knowledge. At different levels of applying knowledge, software or computerized system can empower the processes.

Remember Remembering is the ability to retrieve the structural and behavioral representation of knowledge (definition of a concept, components of a system and sequential steps of a procedure) for given situations. Searching knowledge base structured in generic knowledge elements increases accessibility of candidate knowledge list. A ordinary text search will not achieve the same goal.

Use Using or applying of particular knowledge is the ability of utilizing knowledge to solve real world problems. Well-structured knowledge can help the application of knowledge. Software will likely play a less role in applying knowledge compared to other parts of learning and knowledge performance.

Creation Creation refers to the ability to re-structure or to generate new knowledge as a result of applying existing knowledge to a situation. Well-designed software, like Insightin, can facilitate knowledge re-formulation and elaboration.


Insightin Accelerate Natural Learning

Insightin facilitates transformation of source documents (articles) into generic types of knowledge elements, and capturing of the relationship between them. Knowledge formulation is the most effective way to learn. Insightin goes further than knowledge transformation, it also generates many types of exercises based on structures of knowledge to accelerate the learning.



Last Updated on: Jan. 12, 2015
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