HOW IT WORKS: Explain the basis of facts rather than facts alone
THE terms "knowledge" and "information" are generally used interchangeably. We talk about "knowledge sharing" for "passing information". Similarly data and information are exchangeable words. However, they are not the same.
Chris Dede (1988) in his paper on The Role Of Hypertext In Transforming Information Into Knowledge stated that "data" is defined as input gathered through the senses; and "information" as integrated data. Information is converted to "knowledge" by interconnecting it with known concepts and skills in order to achieve a goal.
Wikipedia, meanwhile, describes that the main difference between data, information and knowledge is in the level of abstraction being considered. Data is the lowest level of abstraction, information is the next level, and finally, knowledge is the highest among all three. Data on its own carries no meaning. For data to become information, it must be interpretable and take on a meaning. For example, the height of Mount Everest is generally considered as "data", a book on the mountain's geological characteristics may be viewed as "information" and a report (based on the data and information provided) containing practical information on the best way to reach its peak may be regarded as "knowledge".
Knowledge is the appropriate synthesis and integration of information, such that its intent is to be useful, explained Gene Bellinger and others (www.systems-thinking.org/dikw/dikw.htm). Knowledge is a deterministic process. When someone "memorises" information (as students often do), then they have gained knowledge. This knowledge has useful meaning to them, but it does not provide for, in and of itself, an integration so that it will create further knowledge. For example, elementary schoolchildren memorise, or amass knowledge of, the times table. They can tell you that "2 x 2 > 4" (because it is included in the times table). But when asked what is "1267 x 300", they cannot respond correctly because that entry is not in the table. To correctly answer such a question requires true cognitive and analytical ability that only takes place in the next level i.e. understanding and knowledge.
How is information converted to knowledge? Bits of information are organised together as concepts and they become knowledge if they are connected with existing concepts. The following will further clarify the point:
New information + Prior information --› Activation of prior knowledge --› Refining previous knowledge by using new information (evaluating against beliefs) --› New knowledge.
Here are some examples to further elaborate the conception.
l Flu epidemic started in chicken breeders (new information) + Flu is caused by a virus which spreads from person to person (prior information) --› Can flu virus spread from chicken to human? (refining previous knowledge by using new information) --› Bird flu (new knowledge)
l A dolphin saved the life of a man (new information) + Dolphins have bigger brains than humans (prior information) --› Refining previous knowledge by using new information --› Dolphins are not only intelligent but also friendly to humans (new knowledge).
Information becomes knowledge once it is processed in the mind of individuals. The knowledge again becomes new information to others once it is presented in some decipherable form, for example as text, graphics, videos or as other symbolic form. We share the information and not the knowledge. It is the individual who translates the received information into knowledge.
Currently, knowledge cannot be stored in anything other than the brain, because a brain connects all the information. Computers are not artificial brains as they do not understand what they are processing and cannot make independent decisions. There are two sources that the brain uses to build knowledge -- data and information.
Take the example of a house map we build inside our brain. Like a physical map, it helps us figure out where things are -- but it contains more than that. It also holds our beliefs and expectations. "If I do this, I will probably get that."
Knowledge represents a pattern that connects and generally provides a high level of predictability as to what is described and what will happen next. For example, if the humidity is very high and the temperature drops substantially, the atmosphere will unlikely be able to hold the moisture, which results in rain.
This implies that teaching in institutions of higher learning should explain the basis of facts rather than facts alone, for example explaining how a mathematical formula was drawn rather than simply telling the formula. This will enable students to develop their own knowledge rather than memorising information.