This experimental work of Knowledge Engine has passed two stages of experimentation. The first stage is me using the software to help myself learn, to see if it can be really helpful for my own learning. It turns out an incredible tool for my daily learning, and I need to use it daily for my learning.
When you look at many other learning/educational software, I am sure you can notice that most of them are built for other people. The designers won’t use it themselves. What are the other people? They are those who are usually assumed to be lack of learning capacity and need to be “helped”. Well, I don’t think I need to tell you what a false assumption this is! Knowledge Engine, however, is intended even for those strong learners. I use it myself daily for my learning. This alone is what separates it from most learning/educational software.
The second stage of experiment is to have a few other people use it to see if it can help other people as well. The result of this has been quite satisfactory to me. People who have no skills of reflection earlier can learn how to reflect quickly and thus open up the space of real life learning. The result proved my hypothesis when starting this project, and made me more confident on this project.
In the second stage of experiment, there is also a 11 year old boy participating. From this case, he has no problem in using various parts of the site. While some adults have problem in using certain parts of the site, this kid found no problem, and I observe him using the notebook quite efficiently and smoothly. I was a little worried whether this software is too complicated for the kids. It seems that worry can be lessened. Of course, we need more kids to try to find out.
Furthermore, with this 11 year old boy, I found the site helping his learning tremendously. The boy is using the site to record what he felt significantly in the days. For example, his observation of the growth of plants he planted, or observation of pets at home, or various questions he has. All these are important things in a child’s growth and he is recording them! I saw him making notes about his excitement on the upcoming military training in school. He was really excited about it, as every boy should be. But one week after the training, he wrote on his notebook: I felt the military training so meaningless. It just turns human beings into consciousness-less low level machines.
This kind of self-reflective skills will definitely prepare this boy for his future learning in the middle school. Even with all the nonsense in the middle school, I think this kid will be better in surviving it.
In the second stage of experiment, I also used the knowledge frames in my notebook to teach migrant workers remotely using the method of open class based on significant experiences. Using knowledge frames to teach and sticking to the sharing of experiences, the teaching becomes very easy and effective. It has the great effect of inspiring the students to think by themselves and to explore themselves.
This teaching, together with my teaching of kids and some adults, gives me the confidence that as a self-reflective tool, this software is needed by various people instead of just a few. Before starting this project, I have a little doubt whether this can suit everyone. Now I am more confident that if not everyone, at least most people will benefit greatly from using this self-reflective tool. In addition, I also have the confidence that this platform can help the learners learn mostly by themselves (by using the rich learning material and well organized knowledge structure, plus peer learning) and the teacher can give effective instruction to each learner through the notebook.
Now I want to expand the experiment to a broader group of people, thus we can demonstrate to the whole society the possibilities and the power of real life learning. The main goal of this project is to help the adults to start learning revolution on themselves and really learn how to learn (in real life). We have to first make adults understand what is learning before we can talk about education. We want to work with two group of people for this. One group is the college students, many of who start to drop classes in college so they have time to learn in society. The other group is the young migrant workers, who are facing the real challenge of education and are very motivated to change their fate through learning. We want to work with these two groups of people and to help what they have already been doing. We hope we will develop a mature model of learning (learning in real life) and bring out the true face of learning! Once everyone sees this true face of learning, we are then prepared to tackle the complex issue of education.
I am also trying to establish a teaching career for myself using this tool and platform, and thus demonstrate to other professionals how they can easily become teachers even in their spare time.
Knowledge Engine can also be used for knowledge management inside an organization. This is also what I want to experiment and prove.