Knowledge Federation Course

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This excerpt from a recent email will illustrate the ongoing revival of this prototype.

In the aftermath of KF2014 Dubrovnik, our strategic thoughts and conversations appear to be converging toward staging an international inter-university interdisciplinary course at the Inter University Centre Dubrovnik as our next natural tactical step, in our growing collaboration toward the kind of impact that matters. Who exactly will be creating and teaching this course, what the course will be about and what its format will be, all this remains to be co-answered and co-designed. The motivation for this letter is to begin to think together about these questions.

Writing an article about this course project seemed like a natural way to orchestrate this co-creation, and I offered to write an initial draft. And so as I’m running around doing my end of the semester chores, I am also reading and thinking and growing more and more enthusiastic about this course idea. Part of my enthusiasm springs from seeing that we now have an exceptionally talented and knowledgeable team to work with; some of it is a result of seeing how well our various projects and aims that we shared in Dubrovnik might be woven into and furthered by this course. Part of my enthusiasm is from seeing how wonderful a thing might emerge by just putting some of our ideas together — as expressed for example in Pavel’s Future Agendas for Global Education or Alexander’s Virtual Learning in a Socially Digitized World, or woven into the Knowledge Federation course prototype that KF has been developing.

I imagine the article describing two things (after introducing various points of motivation and background for the course): the course design — including what’s being taught and how (the course model); the design patterns woven into the course design — which are now a growing list of changes or reversals that this course may make w.r.t. the conventional education; each of them alone sufficient to make one excited about this project

And so since thinking about this course puts me into this enthusiastic mood, let me begin here with something that might be mentioned at the end of the article, if at all — but which I believe is a motivation we’ll all strongly share; and that is the possibility to create a transformative academic environment, where the spirit of collaboration for impact along the lines that matter and of co-creative change will be shared through immersion, and felt as soon as one’s been exposed to it through written documents, and especially through personal contacts. (Take for ex. Kennan’s initiative to re-evolutionize science through Yamana — wouldn’t an educational project be a natural way to share this work with the kind of young people who can carry it further? But this is of course true about most if not all our projects.)

The soil from which my enthusiasm is nourished is the potential for complementarity and synergy. So let me share here a few thoughts (or more precisely potential course design patterns) to illustrate this: Pavel is already federating emerging transformative trends in education, isn’t he? Alexander is bringing in a tradition he’s been part of for several decades, by working with Banathy and others, where education is seen as a component and potentially a driver of a global transformation, and developed as this transformation might require it. And Knowledge Federation is saying that no federation will be complete until it’s rendered in an actual, systemic, material form and shown to the world in such a form. The Inter University Centre Dubrovnik then emerges as a natural place, perhaps the natural place for implementing this idea, because it is an inter university center, and because we have virtually full control over what we are doing, no university bureaucrats to stand in the way. There we can also “stand on the shoulders of” Habermas, Gadamer and other great thinkers who taught there before us and developed the brand — see this brief historical note.

Both Alexander and Pavel talk about gamification of education; why should only the gaming industry use the fascinatingly powerful immersive technology? By federating courses internationally (instead of everyone creating a single whole course, a single course is co-created by international educators, animators, technology people… and offered to learners worldwide), the economies of scale can be shifted so dramatically that finally this most needed development may become practically and economically feasible (…)

And then of course we all agree that education must be active, peer-to-peer, flexible, instill right values… In the KF course model we’ve been evolving through stages, beginning from the FLEXPLEARN course model that was implemented as the University of Oslo Information Design Course already more than a decade ago, we’ve been evolving a concrete way how to do this, including both social processes and technology…

For us who have already become somewhat enamored with Dubrovnik and with one another, this course will give us an opportunity to further come together and put our minds and ideas together, and become capable of taking up other projects. And not only that— instead of for ex. developing collaboration platforms, we can invite international students to develop them together with us…

And finally, in the context of our overarching big goal, isn’t this a natural way to collaborate for impact? Education being such a natural leverage point, where the world is renewed and potentially re-created with every new generation; and through which transformative ideas are made alive by sharing them with young people, who will implement them and develop them further?

The rest is older material, developed in connection with Knowledge Federation Workshop Dubrovnik 2012

Operational goal

Develop the Knowledge Federation Course and offer it to graduate students from leading international universities through the Inter University Centre Dubrovnik [1].


  • The education we have inherited from the past is not the education that can serve us in the future [2] — what an opportunity to exercise socio-technical system design and demonstrate its value! The Knowledge Federation course implements a radically different educational model, providing improvements or breakthroughs along all critical dimensions — it is flexible and exploratory, it stimulates creativity, instills good values, teaches co-creation...
  • It was knowledge federation that made those improvements possible. Knowledge Federation course is a globally federated one — students learn in part from federated learning resources, and in part by federating learning resources. Federation of knowledge resources enables all of our members to cooperate on each lecture, and produce excellent material both regarding content and regarding presentation (including the use of media etc.)
  • Through academia, the Knowledge Federation Course spreads the message and spirit of an academic renewal, and a cultural renewal [3]. The course attracts a population of students, from some of the best international universities, enthusiastic to be part of such movement, seeing in it their future, and the world's future.

Immediate practical goals

  • Prepare the KF course and course materials. The course will be offered through IUC Dubrovnik in October 2014. We need to send invitations to leading universities through IUC. Compose a poster. Create the first course plan and materials. Start from Ramon Sangüesa's notes from the Knowledge Federation Course World Cafe from Knowledge Federation 2010 Dubrovnik.

Themes to introduce, paradigms to change

  • Federated education
  • Education that develops people capable of making a difference

Contributions to Knowledge Federation

  • spreads knowledge federation [4]
  • develops a prototype and a showcase of knowledge federation in a key area
  • develops Knowledge Federation Domain Map (by developing its curriculum).
  • includes education as active part in a federated knowledge ecosystem

Contributions to the changing world

  • paradigm shift begins in education and spreads through education


  1. IUC Dubrovnik is chartered to give accredited courses to students from member universities, which include the leading global universities such as Sorbonne, Stanford and University of Tokyo.
  2. See for ex. this video summarizing Sir Ken Robinson's critical comments.
  3. A change closely similar to the developments that changed the arts a century ago, see my vignette We may paraphrase Werner Kollath....
  4. A traditional discipline such as physics recruits the next generation of physicists through physics courses. To be able to grow, knowledge federation too needs this component.

Temporary community site

See also

Back to 'Introducing Knowledge Federation'

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