Knowledge Structures

From ElateWiki

Visualization technologies combine information with their representative graphical presentations in so-called knowledge structures. Knowledge is defined as contextualized information that informs human sense-making.


The Basics of Knowledge Structures

Knowledge structures consist of nodes and relationships. These structures consist of visuals and text. They may also involve underlying rules and principles. Knowledge structures capture the core accepted information in a field. These communicate the conceptual models of knowledge in a particular domain.

People arrive at knowledge through their senses (sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing), and they also arrive at knowledge through theorizing and reflection. They conduct research to surface information. They then package knowledge in various ways for higher education: abstracts, posters, stories, case studies, articles, and books.

Smaller Units of Information Granularity

Knowledge structures are often built in smaller units of “granularity”. These smaller sizes make these information pieces for interchangeable. A simplified way of dividing up information into various types may be as the following three types:

1. Facts, History, and Research

2. Processes, Methods, and Procedures

3. Principles and Values (of the field or profession)


Most digital information has to be labeled with metadata for interchangeability, management (in repositories, learning / course management systems, digital libraries, and other spaces) and accurate usage.

Knowledge structures may be arranged in a rich number of ways: topically or by subject matter; chronologically; as types or categories; as processes, procedures, or practices; as principles, values, concepts, or themes; as user-perspective-based, and through mixed methods.

Knowledge structures may be ontologies (objects, concepts and other entities—and the relationships between them) or taxonomies (categorizations or classifications). They may represent various hierarchies. With various open-source, commercial, and proprietary technologies, these knowledge structures may be captured and represented interactively to a variety of users.


Why Use Knowledge Structures?

Knowledge structures help create coherence for learners, particularly novices and amateurs. They enhance the learning and offer natural transitions between sections of the learning.

For planning purposes, various technologies may be used to visualize knowledge structures. These may include diagramming software to show maps, flowcharts, cause-and-effect diagrams, spatial plans, and website maps.

See Also


Hai-Jew, S. (2009). Knowledge Structures in Online Courses: So What? Axio Learning Users Conference. Slideshow. 1 – 21.