Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Connective Knowledge CCK08

Connective Knowledge is this week's focus in CCK08. George Siemens' book, Knowing Knowledge (included in my summer reading) provides a good foundation for this week's discussions. A few course members are already contemplating the difference between knowledge and information. From a conceptual point of view, I see value in differentiating between
  • Information
  • Knowledge
  • Learning
  • Education
As these are English words, I don't want to get caught up in semantics. The differences are subtle, but important to note. The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition is italicized with my comments below.

1: the communication or reception of knowledge or intelligence2 a (1): knowledge obtained from investigation, study, or instruction

Webster uses the words "communication" and "knowledge" in the definition for information. I would argue that information exists without necessary communication. Information is everywhere, not necessarily communicated. In some cases, it just is.

1 obsolete : cognizance 2 a (1): the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association (2): acquaintance with or understanding of a science, art, or technique b (1): the fact or condition of being aware of something (2): the range of one's information or understanding knowledge

Knowledge is a noun, but attaining it requires action, either passive or active on the part of the one acquiring it. Note the phrase "through experience", "being aware", "understanding".

1 : the act or experience of one that learns 2 : knowledge or skill acquired by instruction or study 3 : modification of a behavioral tendency by experience (as exposure to conditioning)

Learning is the action. It is what happens as one acquires knowledge.

1 a: the action or process of educating or of being educated ; also : a stage of such a process b: the knowledge and development resulting from an educational process education>

A favorite quote of mine: Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.
- Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

I digress. Seriously, Education is what exists after exposure to information, acquisition of knowledge, and the learning process take place. Education is dynamic and continuous. It is constantly being constructed or built upon.

This is where it is important to differentiate between an individual's experience within a networked learning community and the overall group experience or contribution. One person may contribute a lot of content or very little. Another may learn extensively from that content, or barely skim the surface.

From an individual's perspective within a networked learning environment, varying levels of knowledge may be negotiated and/or acquired. I'm going to use the
Teach Web 2.0 Wiki as an example of networked learning because I'm close to it. But, I believe that this is a simplistic view compared to the connected learning going on in CCK08 where numerous tools are being used at once.

One of the frustrations of the Teach Web 2.0 design is getting participants to move beyond information gathering to application, synthesis, and evaluation of content (Blooms Taxonomy, 1956). Arguably, this transition must take place for deeper learning to occur. Information is the low hanging fruit in a learning network. People are happy cutting and pasting, moving content from one location to another. But, is that really learning? Is than even knowledge? The Teach Web 2.0 wiki was designed to encourage participants to evaluate Web applications and their potential value to teaching and learning. However, few contribute at this level without guidance. There's a much greater commitment of time and thought processing required to participate in this way. It's very easy to list a new tool, much harder to assess and articulate how to use it effectively.

I see a similar circumstance within the CCK08 community. Many are in the discussion forums typing a paragraph or so. Others offer drive by praise or criticisms. Still others pop in for Elluminate or UStream sessions. How many are diving into all of these things while closely digesting the readings and trying to offer new perspectives? I want to be in that last category, but time is an enemy.

I'm very interested in understanding connectivism from an instructional design and learner role perspective. How do we move from information collection to knowledge construction? I wonder if we'll skim this topic when we look at power, control, validity, and authority in week 8?


Prokofy said...

Yes, by dispersing, distributing, atomizing the course across lots of frivolous sorts of media like Twitter, the professors may be a witness to their theory by undermining authority, but nobody is reading their articles. In any case, their articles are too dense to learn in a quickie 12 week course without years of study of educational theory.

Sarah Stewart said...

Yes, this is why I am struggling with this course - I have a background of no educational theory. So What I plan to do is pick out the bits that I can follow, understand and apply. I may not end up as an 'expert' by the end of the course, but I have my network to support me when I want to find out more.

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dissertation said...

As these are English words, I don't wish for to get delayed in semantics.