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27 October 2005 / erikduval

Olle Hagman @ Skelleftea

Knowledge building was the theme of [Olle Hagman](http://www.sts.gu.se/staff/hagman/default.html)’s talk.

It connected well with the talk I gave just before (will put my slides online a bit later): he made the point that even if you have an image of the Mona Lisa, and even if you have the paint and all the other materials, that doesn’t mean that you will be able to paint it.

If we want to make universities better knowledge building institutions, we need to encourage risk taking and provide feedback and rewards. The audience feedback was that there is no conversation about this issue in most universities: there is no encouragement to take risks…

Olle mentioned that “save rooms” are important, places where you can take risks without being existentially threatened, complemented with feedback channels, that should enable more experimentation.

As a concrete example from the Skelleftea context, a student can develop an application that helps a PhD. student to obtain data for a sawmill simulation, all of it in collaboration with a local company, so that all involved build knowledge that is relevant to the others.

An obvious problem is how to evaluate this sort of student work. Another issue is that some will feel uncomfortable relinquishing control.

Olle mentioned some success stories, but also mentioned challenges, like professors raising funds rather than organizing the projects or processes, or the fuziness of “success” and how it can be measured. (I think that the latter issue is a REALLY big one that warrants serious debate…)

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