A transfer of knowledge usually entails that a person who knows something about a topic will try to pass on his knowledge to someone who does not yet know about the topic. Typically this situation of transferring knowledge is situated at a school or university, yet there are also methods such as peer-to-peer education or knowledge management systems that will guarantee knowledge sharing within companies. The term transfer refers to the fact that knowledge is given by one party to another party. An exchange, on the other hand, would be a give and take relationship between both parties and knowledge sharing would be the continuous exchange of knowledge.
A knowledge transfer in a school environment would typically happen between a teacher, the expert on the topic, and a group of students, who are not yet experts. The educational setting also promotes peer-to-peer knowledge transfer, meaning that knowledge is passed on between people of the same age. This is done in order to break down the hierarchical structure in schools. Peer-to-peer education will help students understand what is taught, since peers will use a language and imagery that is easier to comprehend than that of a teacher. At universities, there is a mixture of knowledge transfer and knowledge exchange, since university students can be considered part or near experts, depending on how far they are advanced in their fields of study.
In a business setting, knowledge transfer has increased in importance and serves to transfer knowledge from one part of the company to another. Knowledge transfer in this context is closely related to knowledge management since both activities deal with the organization, creation, capturing, distribution and availability of knowledge within companies. The process of knowledge transfer typically involves finding the experts within the company and motivating them to share their knowledge while at the same time developing a mechanism with which the knowledge can be shared and in turn enabling that the newly gained knowledge can be applied. There are several possibilities of how knowledge can be transferred within a company including mentoring, group work or work in pairs, guided experience, simulations and various other practices.