Knowledge Flux – Is potential limiting the transfer?

Knowledge Transfer

On the other day in my lecture to III year undergraduate students of chemical engineering, I was talking on how the fundamental laws governing the flow of energy, momentum, and chemical species can be envisaged in one standard form as F = ΔΦ/R  , where F denotes Flux (flow of physical quantity), ΔΦ the potential available for flow (better known as driving force) and , R the resistance to flow of physical quantity.

Presumably, few of them, could relate the standard form (given above) to Fick’s law of diffusion, Fourier’s law and Newton’s law of viscosity and synthesize the commonality between different courses they have, as part of the curriculum (chemical engineering). I am sure, any ardent electrical engineer reading this article can also recognize the standard form referred above can be related to the expression Current (I) = Potential (V) /Resistance (R). Hence, it struck to me that the standard form F = ΔΦ/R is not restricted to one branch of science but is common across all branches of study (Refer to wiki Flux). One can define flux across all fields such as in demography, social science, and economics (to name a few) and describe population migration, cash flow, product demand & supply. This triggered the thought of envisioning transfer of knowledge also as flux term in education.

Restricting to the debatable practices of professional educational system, the process of knowledge transfer is accredited with institutions (schools, colleges, and university departments). In turn, these institutions cogently think that the process of knowledge transfer is the unilateral duty of their work-force (tutors and lecturers). All modern practice of teaching and lecturing are meticulously introduced and followed with due care given to examination, evaluation and reward of this knowledge transfer process, based on percentage or percentile or recently populous letter grade system.

If one views, knowledge transfer as flux F, it is imminent to understand that this flux F depends on available knowledge potential (driving force for transfer of knowledge,ΔΦ) and is hindered by resistance(R). The interesting fact (or commonly perceived notion) is that there is always a finite potential (driving force,ΔΦ)available for knowledge transfer and the process is limited or crippled only by resistance (R). Efforts taken towards introduction and adoption of modern teaching methodologies, improvements brought out in examination and evaluation system can be seen as strategies that helps in decreasing the resistance , such that knowledge transfer flux is effective (enhanced). This is largely because it is well hypothesised that tutors (mostly, the speakers in a typical classroom) are well equipped and have thorough knowledge (understanding in terms of breadth and depth) of their courses than the students (mostly, the listeners of class) and hence, there is always a finite (non-zero) potential available for knowledge transfer flux F to happen. Any loss or decrement in knowledge transfer flux is attributed to poor delivery of knowledge by tutors or to deficit receipt of delivered knowledge by students (both treated as resistance that impedes knowledge transfer).

However, there exists a plausible counter-thought as well (at least on paper). Why not the flux be limited by lack of available potential? Is the potential always finite and non-zero? I wonder, whether any thoughtful debate happens within or outside the portals of institutionalized professional educational system on quantifying the potential ( ΔΦ) available for knowledge transfer to be realized at first instance? Perhaps, such thoughts are seldom considered purposeful for debate in institutions.

I could not keep myself composed with such thoughts boiling just in me, not knowing where, and how to find solution for this counter-thought and approached my good friend over lunch, who shared his opinion that the potential that drives knowledge transfer is seldom quantifiable.

Nonetheless, I leave it to the reader to hang-out on this counter-thought and let me know if this knowledge potential is worth investigating for betterment of educational system.


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