Wednesday, 28 December 2005

Knowledge as an Object?

Artichoke has left a wonderful comment to Libraries, e-learning & Games.

I have been struggling to identify why I am made uncomfortable by many of the claims about LOs and showcased examples in my edu_blog

Do you think the answer lies in that LO's often represent "knowledge as an object" which doesn't fit well with contemporary understandings of learning.

I identified well with the uncomfortable feeling and have been struggling to make sense out of this confusion myself. To me, two of the sources of such uneasiness may due to
  1. our interchangeable use of the words "knowledge" and "information" which are not necessarily the one and the same thing.

  2. learning is considered the same as acquiring "knowledge", hence building collection of information IS ASSUMED to be learning.
[Knowledge and Information, are they the same?]

If we can accept that information is external to us and knowledge is our internal constructs of the world, things started to feel a little better. Yes, reading is ONE way of importing information, but will that import stays depend on yet another set of conditions. I would argue that pedagogy is the art of helping people to efficiently acquire and expand people's internal world.

When a scientist discovers a new way of doing thing or interpreting the world, she may publish as papers, she may also give lectures on the discovery. These papers and lectures are manifestations of her new-found understanding (knowledge) AND these manifestations are not necessarily the same. Another scientist after reading from the paper may repeat the experiment, the thought-process or argument. Such processes help him to import the manifestations to become part of his knowledge (also verify that the new discovery is inline with the community understanding at the time). Many great discovery started as a controversy and was not accepted by the community!

When I am co-authoring a paper with someone else, this can be interpreted as we are trying to come to a compromise of a manifestation of our individual understandings of the subject matter. If we are really passionate about the subject matter, any disagreement in the manifestation (temporary as in the form of drafts) will cause great changes in our individual knowledge internally until we can arrive at a mutually agreeable position. Is that learning? I suppose yes.

Learning communities are great way for the active members of the community to learn. Other may learn equally efficiently by reading elsewhere or vicarious participation in learning communities. Learning ecology is one way of cultivating learning communities, but I don't believe it is the ONLY way of promoting learning. Human is flexible enough to approach things in different ways under different situation.

No comments: