The Knowledge Box

Often we wonder how technology advancement can influence the way we learn.

Especially in an era where we are living in, knowledge comes with more compact form, and a space of knowledge may not required much of space, for instance, , when we have any inquiry, we find answers on internet, in a sense, internet has become our school, which it only needs our digital devices to access it. How schools can keep up the the fast- changing knowledge trend?

In 1962, an experimental artist Ken Issac constructed a knowledge box, a simple and compact, immersive environment contained by a cube of wood, masonite and steel . It was equipped with twenty-four slide projectors and audio-suppliers. This installation act as a pre-internet device to transmit narratives in a non-linear way, it attempt to create an immersive and interactive learning experience.

Here is an quote from the experiment:

“As the imagination of many men creates a fantastic new world, the danger is that individual man may soon find himself lost in it. He may be expert in his own special field — microbiology, perhaps — but otherwise remains an ignoramus. New teaching techniques and devices are therefore much required in order to cram as much knowledge as possible, as fast as possible, into his swimming brain.

Out of the imagination of one specialist, 32-year-old designer Ken Isaacs of the Illinois Institute of Technology, has come a machine called a “knowledge box” that he hopes will help fill this need. Isaacs, peering from inside his weird cellular contrivance, believes that the traditional classroom environment is as ill-suited for learning as a ball park. Inside the knowledge box, alone and quiet, the student would see a rapid procession of thoughts and ideas projected on walls, ceilings and floor in a panoply of pictures, words and light patterns, leaving the mid to conclude for itself. It is a machine of visual impact that could depict, for example, a history of the Civil War in a single session, or just as easily give a waiting astronaut a lesson in celestial navigation.@

(From a Life Magazine article “The Knowledge Box”. September 14, 1962 )

As seen in the images below, his experiment imagined his projection of the future, the era where we are currently living in, where technology is more accessible compared to the 60’s. This put forward two questions: with the virtual technology, can space for learning be minimized?  And if so, to what degree of control, ‘passive learning’ or active interaction the environment can offer as a learning environment?

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Further Read

The Knowledge Box by Ken Isaacs (1962):

The Knowledge Box by Ken Isaacs (1962)

Enter the Matrix: An Interview with Ken Isaacs by Susan Snodgrass

The ‘Knowledge Box’: Picture an Early, Trippy, Analog, 3-D Wikipedia. By Ben Cosgrove

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The Knowledge Box

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