Knowledge Has Changed: 6 Big Ideas from George Siemens
In his plenary presentation this morning at the Educa Online Conference, George Siemens argued that knowledge has changed, here are some of his reasons (read more in his conference paper):
1. We create knowledge together
Today knowledge and knowledge products are created together, we are no longer passive consumers of knowledge created for us. BBC is starting YourNews which is inviting viewers to write their own news and share their own images on the BBC website, blurring the line between knowledge consumer and product. Zefrank’s website on cultural entertainment features a weekly show titled Fabuloso Friday which the viewers who watch the episode write the script in a wiki.
2. The distributed “we”
We collect our knowledge in our friends rather than having to keep it all in our own heads (see last blog post).
Some educators take a messy information space and simplify it for learning. This is not always a very accurate depiction of reality, but people seem to favour simplicity over accuracy. Now with blogs, we can complexify things again to get closer to accuracy. In order to act we need to simplify again to a series of choices; however now we can do both the complexification for understanding and the simplification for actions ourselves, rather than having to rely on a media reporter or a journalist to do it for us.
4. Recombination and Tools
We now have an “internet of things” whereby any aspect of physical space can be exposed to the internet. The internet probably knows what colour shirt we are wearing because it had an electronic RFID tag from the shipping to the point of sales. We are also seeing the “Thumb generation” which will eventually focus on mobile devices rather than PCs for knowledge transfer and connection.
5. Fluid product to process
George Siemens likened a book to a process that has been stopped. It is frozen knowledge, and shows a state of the debate where the conversation has been stopped. He felt that this does not work well when the underlying knowledge is rapidly changing. We need instead to keep the knowledge at the process stage, rather than the product stage, so that we can continue conversations in the knowledge space. (He has just published his new book in a wiki format.) Even courses are products that freeze knowledge, we need to make our learning environments more process oriented.
6. Fostered transformation
We should not adapt too quickly or be overreactive, and make changes that bind us to one space or technology. We should continue to experiment and continue our spirit of transformation and stay in line with the nature of change.
I don’t know if it is because I like books but, George Siemens’ point about ‘frozen knowledge’ makes me nervous. I see his point and I find it fascinating but I don’t want to get carried away by it.
If a conversation is stopped, it might be to help us digest all the information. That doesn’t mean it cannot continue later on. In order to ‘absorb’ knowledge, we need introspection and time. This should also help to continue the conversation.