The learning society has been discussed in terms of innovation and competence building with social cohesion (Lundvall and Johnson). Innovation is viewed as the key process that characterizes a knowledge economy when understood from a dynamic perspective, while competence is the foundation from which innovation emerges and allows many innovations to be applied. Contributions occur to both the generation of innovations (on the supply side) and to the utilization of innovations (on the consumption side). Learning is reflected in improved skills in people and in the generation, diffusion, application and usage of new ideas. Learning thus can be an unintended consequence of experience and augmentation of scale, as formalized at the single entity, regional or national level. Learning to manage a large portfolio of loosely unrelated knowledge accessing distributed knowledge and leveraging it all in a rapid and interconnected manner into new learning products and solutions is a major challenge for all sectors of society.
The knowledge base is becoming deeper in cognitive dimensions and much more complex and requires a diverse competence base not all internal to a specific entity. In this regard, among other things, the process by which knowledge is created within innovative groups will mean that constellations or bundling of new skills will emerge with different distributions of explicit and tacit knowledge and different patterns of distribution of knowledge and skills between different individuals in different environments (Polanyi 1958 and 1966, Nonaka and Takeuchi and Boisot). This will interact with the fact that different systems of governance will often dictate that different patterns of tacit knowledge emerge in, to take extreme examples, large bureaucratic organizations as opposed to small market-oriented organizations. This applies equally within education as in other sectors.
There is need for a diversification of actions in education to support the creation and diffusion of distributed knowledge bases. This is particularly appropriate in the context of the digital divide for /catching up/ countries and regions so that growth and innovation spread will not just be based on the creation of new sectors but on the internal transformation of sectors that already exist by exploiting their distributed knowledge bases through adequate incentives and institutions. With the co-evolution of technology and education and utilizing what are the outcomes of our analyses it seems not inappropriate to recommend that overall new development models need to be defined, researched and applied which recognize that among their component parts are required:
a) radical redefinition and diversification of teaching methods and training of teachers
b) stronger understandings of how to create institutional strategies within educational entities and the skills to effect that
c) embedded effective cost analyses of technology/pedagogy interfaces
d) realistic planning for sustainability and scalability of innovations
e) mechanisms that inform on state-of-the-art developments particularly in standardization and generic education and training vocabularies
These component parts, as in any development models, are crucially dependent on shared knowledge and experience. This carries implications for the emergence of truly effective trans European knowledge pools and further for the design and processes through which researchers and practitioners seek support from funding entities to research, test and apply their innovative ideas.
The review processes have revealed a set of indicators that require the attention of the education planners and education actors in general and suggest that the new forms of educational provisions whether viewed from a user or provider perspective, require a rethinking of what teaching and learning now constitutes. The indicators identified may play a benchmark role in the conceptualization, structuring and operationalizing of what we term in the broadest sense, e-learning. The results of this analysis indicate that fundamental changes emerge in the transfer of knowledge at all levels whether school-based, in higher education or in adult learning. The transversal nature of the indicators of change whether these address the issue of roles or organizational conditions, invite the policy maker to, upon a reflection of what was to what is and what will it be, articulate policy(ies) that can be supportive of ways in which to maximize the effective transfer of knowledge to the wider possible populations.