Thursday, 10 January 2008

Coverage Equity - Part 2

The issue of a syllabus and the limited time we have as a teacher/instructor/guide is the tension between the breadth and depth of treatment of a subject area. Traditionally, as an information gatekeeper, the issue on breadth is an important choice to make. Today, when information are just a few clicks away, learners potentially can access whatever information that interest them. The information gatekeeper role has long gone!

I have been careful not to use 'knowledge' in a general sense to describe information. I believe there is a huge difference between 'information' and 'knowledge' - and this is particularly important in the information era. Bloom taxonomy and many other similar scheme come into mind when we are dealing with "knowing" something, but that is for another day or another occasion. The distinction here is that something needs to be known before it can be qualified as knowledge. The process of helping someone to "know" information is the task for the teacher/instructor/guide. The availability of information is now given.

When we give someone a piece of paper with something printed on it, this is NOT teaching. When we can ensure that the information has been read and understood, then that piece of information (not the paper on which information reside) has been transformed to a piece of knowledge for that special someone who manages to read and understand that is written on that paper.

However, this process of transformation - from information to knowledge - is an inner task which can only be performed by the learner. We cannot do that for anyone. One can only lead a horse to the water, right? The obvious task is to make the horse thirsty at the first place before we lead it to the water!

That comes back to the issue of coverage of a subject area again. How can we design a course which make the learner more thirsty the more the learn knows about the subject area?

Like pushing drugs, satisfying the immediate need is NOT the secret of the selling of drugs. It is the addictive nature of the drugs which sell themselves.

If we can arrange the coverage of a subject area in a way similar to drug - addictive to the learner and urges the learner to want to know more, we have a solution!

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