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Timm Amstein

Student , TU Dresden

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We need knowledge maps for students and pupils!

The ideas of data mining and data visualization are big challenges. But I think the principles Berlow and Gourley are using, are similar to algorithms search engines and other web services are using for proposing answers, ads and more. I think we need to take these ideas and bring them to the world of education. We could build up knowledge maps like the one thats used at Khan Academy. A map based on open knowledge e.g. wikipedia would give students the possibility to see the connections and explore the world of knowledge instead of attending in different courses, with different subjects, with different teachers, who think their subject is the best and aren't interested in building up connections (exaggerated to make the point). To go further you could use these methods to visualize stuff you can find on google scolar or in librarys. As people who can work with algorithms and data I think it would be nice if Google would offer such visualization. For me as a student it would be a big help to see the connections between all the different books, articles, journals, conferences and so on, to get a complete overview of a subject. That would also clean up a lot of redundant BLABLA made just because it's not sure that, if a statement is made, everybody understands the concepts behind it like the author does. I think that if you work on a thesis and you could see witch topics are connected, what concepts do I have to know, what are the most important authors and texts I have to read and so on, then the quality of new ideas would be impoved very much. Students wouldn't have to read for example 30 articles in journals where the ideas are just slightly different but the main idea is the same, For the beginning I think taking just the citations in books or arcticles and connecting them, would make a huge differnce in research techniques.

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  • Sep 22 2013: be aware it is important to know how to learn something without a map and have the ability to create a map
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      Oct 3 2013: I think that your concern is that we have to be able to learn without a preset image and create our own way of understanding a subject. I totally agree with you. I realized that the name knowledge map maybe isn't the right word. I don't wanted to say we need a framework, instead I yust wanted to suggest to provide better information about connections between subjects. For example if I open a wikipedia site I can see information about one selected subject and the links to other subjects. To get a full understanding of the connection I would have to check out all the links and the links that are linked to that and so on. The workload would go to infinity. Also in professional journals; if I want to have a full understanding I would have to read all the cited journals and books. I noticed for expample that google scholar provides the citing information of articles. If you are searching it provides links to the other cited articles. That means the connection information is there but encrypted in lists and links so that after one or two clicks no normal person can really overlook the mess. What I was asking for is visualized this connection data. After that we will see what comes with it. I think especially for students just to see what are the most cited works in a field and how they are connected in an understandable way, would be mindblowing.
      • Oct 3 2013: Ah, but what about that serendipity moment when you discover something off the subject that leads to so many interesting things. - 8>)) understand that some students feel it is waste of time and I admit it usually is but the times it is not are precious.
  • Oct 7 2013: Knowledge map is a good idea, but the way either Google search or Wikipedia could collect lot of information is that they had to do it in a cursory way which amounts too much material and too little selectivity. When I did my doctoral dissertation many years ago, I did it the paper search in books and journals, but they were so specific. You could just follow the reference "trails" and arrive at more or less the exhaustive result. But by modern internet search, you get so much redundant or irrelevant materials to go through to find the same amount of RELEVANT MATERIALS YOU TRY TO FIND.. But , we can't expect Google or Wikipedia to do the fine-comb work for us,you need large number of knowledgeable scholars to make out one single map, even in one specific field. In other words, Google or Wikipedia are very good making an academic encyclopedia, but it would be very difficult for anybody who want to make sub-encyclopedia for a given field. For example I searched the Google Search on my personal publications. There are so many redundant and irrelevant information in it that I had to screen them 4 times to shrink them from 18 pages to 4 pages, Now if we want to select or simplify all the information in a given field, one may find thousand of pages of materials from the Google search,but without at least some good familiarity of the specific knowledge in the particular field, it is very difficult or impossible to pick and choose the simplified materials into one "map location".
    Yes, your idea is very good. But the problem with the "citation", "reference" or the "topics" , for example, in your introduction above, won't work so well when all are going to be relied on electronic big data summary or cross-reference approach.
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      Oct 7 2013: I understand your concern and I yust picked these examples to explain the problem. And I thought especially in Google scholar there still exist a database of citations. I thought that could be a good starting point to see if an approach like that could be helpful. I don't expect that there will be much use for it in a professional way, because as you said there will be so much redundancy. But if its promising you could start a big project to create something that gives real relevant information and holds the possibilities for submaps and so on. As you said that project can't rely on existing databases and has to be build from scratch as an open crowdbased project.
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    Sep 21 2013: Very inspiring indeed.Cause i happen to be a student just like you.Timm,you do speak out the heart of every student.This method could have a huge impact on the education field.Now that you combine different subjects together,kids are able to have access to the subjects they didn't pay attention to or had no interest in.i guess you are born to be a great educator!
    But,nevertheless,it will take some time before the education system becomes as mature as yours.
  • Oct 4 2013: Timm

    Just found this quote from Pamela Hieronymi, a prof of philosophy at UCLA in an essay on online learning, "Education is not the transmission of information or ideas. Education is the training needed to make use of information and ideas. As information breaks loose from bookstores and libraries and floods into computers and mobile device, that training becomes more important, not less."
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      Oct 7 2013: Thats exactly the concern I have. Because of the information overload and the fact that everybody could wright about nearly anything we need to set things in perspective and see the connection. I don't want to ruin the experience of learning. That doesn't overtake the normal way of learning it's an addition, a new possibility. If you want to take it or not is for you to decide. I think that moment of serendipity you mentioned would be even bigger. Because I you study something and discover something off that interesting. Then, if you ask the questions: What else does that fact lead to? What can I do with that new idea? how does that idea or fact relates to the things I already know? you are alone! You can explore the different subjects on your own like you said or you need something or someone to teach you. Before the internet you could use one or two teaching books to get a basic understanding and then you could move foreward. With the internet and so many sources of information even a good teacher can only scratch the surface. I think especially for student and pupils who have to learn very much, most of the time things they never heard of before, it's essential to give them the opportunity to say. Okay I learn that! and now I want to see every subject thats related to that to decide what to learn next. If you don't do that the information overload will just crush the brains of students. My best example for the is the field of electronics. If you sudied electronics about 40 years ago. After the normal 5 Years in University (typical German "Diplom") you could say "I understand mostly everything there is to know and I am specialized in ..." Today If you want to understand all the hardware, sensors, IC, software and so on build in a single smartphone you have a hard time. And if you want to build one you better have two lifes to learn it all.
      • Oct 7 2013: Interesting, I was in the computer industry, engineering and r&d 40 years ago. Sorry do not know the German environment, especially 40 years ago but in the US even a Senior engineer with years of experience would not make that statement or even think it let alone someone directly out of college. If they did, they would not last long. The key is learning and applying what you have learnt in the past to what you have just learnt. Technology changes so quickly and the technology can be different from company to company, if not at least in application. The culture of the companies will be different.

        I guess when I read quote it says to me learn how to learn, keep learning every day, and learn how to apply what you have learnt correctly.

        good luck
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          Oct 7 2013: I am sorry. I went a little overboard to make my point I think. What I really wanted to say is what you also said. That the technology developed so much and so qiuck that today its much more difficult to be really good in a broad field or said in another way. The field in which somebody can be specialized is getting smaller because you have to learn more.
          Everyday learning is out of question. My concern is that someday the development of technology will outrun the capabilities of our old crappy system of education if we don't develop new tools and methods.