AKWM Symposion 2008, Karlsruhe

akwm-sym_banner-defaultYesterday, I was at this year’s edition of the AKWM Symposion, which is the yearly event of the Karlsruhe working group on knowledge management. The organizers always manage to find interesting speakers and presenters, among them the following:

Wim Veen from TU Delft opened the day with his insights around the Homo Zappiens and highlighted the radical shifts difference in media exposure, consumption, and perception of children of the digital  age. In contrast to others, he viewed this change not as generally bad, but rather emphasized that multi-player games like World of Warcraft let’s children learn social collaboration behavior, and that parallel usage of different channels help to form the important skill of multitasking. He suggested that as parents and educators we should be less worried about the usage of computers, mobile phones, and other media devices, but rather immerse into those new environments to understand them better and to be able to provide guidance.

Gabi Reinmann from University of Augsburg presented conceptual foundations for personal knowledge management based on her book “Wissenswege” (paths of/toward knowledge), which could be interesting to incorporate into the MATURE discussion on Personal Learning Environments  At the end of her talk she presented results from two studies on knowledge bloggers (researchers and teachers), whose emotional/motivational aspects could be crucial for the notion of PLEs, too: experience of competence, social integration, and autonomy. Particularly the latter one could be a challenges and source of conflict for PLEs within organizations – one example in the discussion mentioned that external blogging platforms are preferred over corporate blogging platforms because of the aspect of autonomy.

Manfred Spitzer from the University Hospital Ulm gave a very inspiring talk on the neuropsychological insights of learning. Apart from the entertaining style of presentation, he was also able to communicate the key findings of neuropsychological research in recent years, e.g.,

  • the role of positive and negative emotions on learning effects: learning based on negative emotions (particularly fear) is very quick, but blocks any form of creativity; positive emotions can boost learning outcomes as it increases neural activity
  • the differences between children and adults: while learning can be very quick in childhood, adult learning is slower – which does not mean that one is better than the other

Additionally, he had a very strong opinion on how the education system should look like and that modern media (like TV, but also computers) have a bad impact on the development of children. He suggested to expose children to the Internet after the age of 17, opposed the – it would have been interesting to have a panel discussion with Wim Veen. After all, I don’t think that there is any radical answer to the challenges of the digital age, neither protection against, nor uncriticial embracing of the “digital native” phenomenon. But another suggestion from him is definitely a good idea: evidence-based education and conducting more empirical educational research on the effectiveness of pedagogical concepts and methods.

He has a similarly strong opinion on the use of Powerpoint (he opposed the fact that children at school are forced to use Powerpoint for their slides) – and cited the NASA Columbia accident assessment where Powerpoint-based communication was considered one of the causes. Well, probably he was one of the example that very good presenters do not need Powerpoint slides at all, but I would argue that the use of slides makes helps average and less-than-average presenters.

As a replacement for Franz Reinisch, I had the opportunity to present MATURE as one of the key activities in the knowledge management field of the iRegion Karlsruhe. The presentation particularly highlighted the potential of the knowledge maturing approach to overcome the separation of knowledge management and learning.

Hans-Peter Schnurr from Ontoprise and Prof. Rudi Studer from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and FZI moderated the session and gave an overview of the cluster initiative iRegion, aimed at fostering the IT cluster Karlsruhe (which is among the top 3 in Europe).