K. Igarashi, S. Seino, R. Yoshioka

The University of Aizu (JAPAN)
A web-based service to facilitate learning of artwork is presented. The service is based on the idea of “Active Knowledge (AK)”, a format of knowledge that prompts its active reuse and creation of new knowledge. Using this service, users can study artworks through data prepared in AK format and create new knowledge by adding their own findings, impressions and comments. The service provides an eco-system of knowledge in which knowledge is circulated by a continuous activity of consumption and creation. To sustain the circulation, browsers and editors of AK are embedded with supportive functions that assist users in understanding and creating knowledge content. This allows users with even little or no special skills to learn and to contribute to AK creation. This paper presents work on applying the AK format to knowledge in the area of art and usage in art education. Art is a suitable area to apply AK since artwork are often abstract and levels of appreciation differs among individuals. Especially, the service is oriented to life-long learning by adults regardless of their interests in art and also to art education for children.

Learning is a process of collecting, relating, creating, and donating knowledge. Learning can be facilitated and enhanced by lowering barriers to this process and by encouraging expression of thoughts and ideas. The proposed software service is an AK platform in which users collect, create, and share knowledge through specialized browsers and editors that reduce technical burdens and increase efficiency of learning. In other words the service is a platform where knowledge can be prepared and shared as AK. AK is a format for specifying (or describing) objects, events, phenomena, etc. through a predefined set of features. To specify the features a set of predefined symbols and rules is used to assist in describing the knowledge and in maintaining a certain level of quality.

The service provides three main functions: explore, create, and donate. The explore function allows users to study artwork by viewing basic information prepared in the AK format, such as, theme, techniques, high-lights. The AK format realizes uniform quality and learning experience. The create function allows users to annotate artwork with their thoughts, ideas, and inspirations related to it. To assist users with different abilities, annotations can be created in forms of short text, pictures, and links to other artwork. For example, a user can give his/her own title to an artwork or attach pictures from the real world that they recall, etc. This can be viewed as a way of creating new artwork based on an existing one. The donate function allows users to share their annotations with others. Shared annotations are shown along with the AK format in the explore function and hence “circulated” and forms the basis for an active explore-create cycle in which knowledge becomes continuously created.
In the paper, details of the AK format and functions of the service and their relation to the learning process are presented. Also results of a preliminary experiment to evaluate the user experience with a prototype system are explained.