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Collective knowledge and the re-use principle: how digitalization is changing how we share knowledge

The internet also offers many options for building knowledge. Our search behaviour is a clear testament to that, but there is no shortage of digital learning facilities either.

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Knowledge transfer is a very cumbersome phrase that describes the ways in which we as people acquire and share knowledge. All of us have gone through the school system so we know the common school-based method of knowledge transfer that is based on didactic teaching. A lot of knowledge tends to be shared in this way at university too, although practical exercises, learning groups and digital formats are also used.

Since at least last year, knowledge providers and seekers alike have had to come up with alternative ways of coming together. Little to no in-person training was possible and lots of people had to find virtual alternatives, and fast. There is no need to reinvent the wheel every time. Good examples can often be re-used – of course, always in compliance with all legal regulations (e.g. copyright, rights of use, right of citation). "Re-use" is a good approach for continuing to use and sharing high-quality content in a resource-saving manner. 

Seek and you shall find... something

Many of us have already gone online in search of information. Even the least internet-savvy people know one very important function of the internet: it is a great way to search for things. You cannot always find what you are looking for, not straight away, but you will always get some sort of results. One person might use it to gather information about their upcoming holiday destination, while the next may use online recipes to get inspiration about what to make out of the leftovers in the fridge. And a YouTuber could be the one to explain differential equations to a kid because the teacher went over it too quickly. The internet opens up almost infinite possibilities for answering questions. This also helps to generate knowledge. The great thing about it is that there are often lots of different people who have been working away on exactly the same topic. This means that a single click provides access to all this collective knowledge. However, a word of warning about collective knowledge: please make sure to always consider the credibility of the source! This is not such a big problem when it comes to recipes but it could be for other topics.

The world wide web of possibilities

Many people have taken not only their search for knowledge, but also their knowledge building digital. Have you ever taken part in an online training course or attended an online seminar? Or have you experienced the best of both worlds and attended a hybrid of the two, such as blended learning? Perhaps you are learning a foreign language with the support of an app on your smartphone? Or are you refreshing your knowledge of a certain function in Excel using a microlearning unit in the form of a YouTube video ("How did that work again with the pivot table?"). Different learning and teaching methods will work for you depending on what kind of learner you are. Just try out a few things and ask yourself honestly which format helps the knowledge stick best. After all, the same principle applies to digital and in-person learning: knowledge that is well prepared and ideally fun to learn is what "sticks" best. Therein lies the secret to well-made YouTube videos, learning platforms; quiz shows and in-person training sessions.

And the same goes for the ".d Question of the week, opens an external URL in a new window", which we are currently working on. Tell us how you learn best. I am looking forward to reading your comments – please feel free to leave them directly below this blog post.