Knowledge Networks 7: Knowledge Networks

 


The significance of this becomes more obvious when you consider that these software systems are being developed and some are available now. In these software systems you can simply cut and paste these elements from these repositories into a web/browser environment without having to be concerned with copyright issues and these environments allow you to mix, manage and arrange these elements so that you, your students or any community member can create teaching modules, units of work, and discrete elements that will assist the learner to understand the concept behind what is being taught . The first of these software systems is described at http://www.knowledgenetworks.co.nz and not surprisingly is known as a Knowledge NET. No longer need units of work/courses be predominantly paper-based. They can now be composed of multiple multi-media elements containing flexible options so that students can build understanding and engage in different learning strategies, allowing them to build understanding via rich information and communication tools which will be accessible from a wide range of teaching and learning resources from the virtual/physical institutions. To quote the "A Revolution in Knowledge Sharing" once again:

"At an accelerated, turbulent place, everything about the knowledge experience will change, including the places in which we can experience knowledge, the intensity of our engagement with knowledge sources, the time sequence for accessing knowledge, our expectations about knowledge timelines, our reliance on intelligent agents, our ability to multitask knowledge streams, and the amenity of the knowledge experience. These changes will accelerate the demand for e-knowledge and for reliance on knowledge networks in a variety of forms and formats."

When deciding on which of these software environments to implement teachers will need to look at whether the environment provides access to rich resources, whether students can create understanding, and more importantly whether students are able to "pull" information in as well as have information "pushed" at them. Many of the most expensive programs on the market today simply push information at students denying them the opportunity while ignoring their capacity, to gather information and create and demonstrate their own unique understanding based on their inquiries and their research. Groups of students should be able to communicate easily with other students in their own school as well as other students in their cluster of schools or schools in other countries.

They should be able to activate a wide range of tools from within the software environments at the push of a button. Parents should be able to be involved with this process and also have access to student material and progress. Schools that integrate a knowledge network into their teaching and learning practices must make sure that they are not just purchasing an assessment kit and a fat information pipe.

This is very simple technology. BUT

What schools need is sophisticated technology which is intuitive and provides students with a wide range of communication tools including KLogs (knowledge blogs) (http://radio.weblogs.com/0110772/stories/2002/10/03/
personalKnowledgePublishingAndItsUsesInResearch.html
) ; chat, listServs, and discussion groups that facilitate a cascading set of discourses and dialogue (where the primary focus is on the tacit accumulation of knowledge), as well as access to predominantly explicit resource banks of learning elements, combined in a manner that facilitates individualised progression at an appropriate pace. In order to work in these environments students should not require numerous lessons on how the technology works but rather the focus will be on teaching associated skill sets that will include sifting, sorting and scanning (judgement), the ability to compare and contrast, the capacity to synthesise information presented in a wide variety of different media types, the tenacity to analyse and be critical of what is presented and the perception to make unique associations between dissimilar and sometimes discordant ideas and concepts (these are just some of the possible skill sets required). Once learners have learnt or understood something they need to be able to communicate their understanding to a third party. For this reason learners will be more involved in teaching their peers than they have been previously.

K-12 school systems therefore must be able to give students opportunity to develop sound language capacity. Micro-quests are just one of many tools which have the capacity to build these skill sets in today's traditional classroom structures http://www.i-learnt.com/Creating_MicroQuest.html
These new technological environments compress the knowledge building timeline and improves the quality of the experience and the depth of understanding but it also demands the capacity for multitasking multiple knowledge streams, a skill that will need to be taught (to both males and females!). It will also be important for students to be able to reflect metacognitively on their own nascent cultural/institutional norms. Learners must be able to recognise that their own knowledge building capacity will be limited by their vision of what can be and what should be. This will be coloured by the extent of previous experiences which will contribute to the learner's "learning culture". If students are unaware of the influence of their own learning culture on their learning processes then they will continue to perpetuate their own bias/culture through their thinking and decision making. The splinter in our enemy's eye is always so much easier to see than the log in our own! This capacity for understanding our own cultural myopia is critical if we are to teach/encourage students to be wise, as wisdom is dependent on understanding our own shortcomings first. When we understand these we are able to more truly reflect on both our own and others' needs.