Sunday, March 25, 2007

Definitions and Differences

• A representative of the establishment responsible for imparting knowledge (the establishment would want imparted) and for omitting and modifying what should be omitted or modified
• Authority on a given subject
• Provocateur
• Interpreter of texts
• One who knows what to teach when and how

• The powerless receiver of knowledge
• The one who is empowered to receive knowledge
• The seeker of truth
• The one who has a selfish motive to learn (job, money, fame, power, desire to appear smart)
• The one who studies out of fear (failure, reprisal, displacement)
• Critique/Rebel
• Disciple/Protégée

• The teacher who wants to learn/unlearn
• One who colludes with the establishment and works his power through invisible ways
• An expert trying to act as peer (dishonest display of modesty)
• Teacher as peer

Learners as Teachers
• The blind leading the blind
• A powerful opportunity for dominant learners
• The democratisation of knowledge/the decentralisation of authority
• The victory of amateurism over expertise/the withering away of teacher-learner divide
• Information as instruction

• Memory and forgetting
• Thinking and feeling
• Creation and destruction
• Experimentation, failure, and discovery

• A top-down activity to impart knowledge
• A progressive profession that helps dispel myths and imparts knowledge to those who:
o Do not know
o Are beginning to know
o Think they know but really do not know
• A methodology that familiarises the “defamiliar” and defamiliarises the familiar.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Learning the Unknowns

Traditionally, the learning and training “industries” have focused on delivering the “knowns” (what someone else already knows) to the learners. Instructional design and teaching methodologies (and now Web and multimedia in their many avatars) deal with “how” to present these “knowns” in an engaging way so that learners are motivated to learn and retain the information taught. However, despite this focus on the “past,” people have gone out and invented new things, wrote and talked about new ideas and models, and improved the quality of life in many different ways. (Let me edit out nuclear bombs and global warming!)

Is learning always condemned to knowing the known? Sample the stuff that has led to inventions, discoveries and innovations—adventures, chance accidents, struggles with possibilities, leaps of faith, irrational hypotheses… In many ways, these are all different facets of the never-ending quest for knowledge or learning—learning not just as processing of information, or as collaboration or networking, but as a search for the unknowns.

I’m not denying the contribution of academic research and corporate R&D—both being extensions of formal education—to incredible scientific developments and new product designs. However, in a world where what is innovative today can be passé the next day, formal research alone cannot provide us all the answers (not that we can have all the "answers"). How can innovation be democratized (from being the privilege of few to the pursuit by many)? What answers can the learning industry provide? In what way has the Internet and Web 2.0 enabled people to contribute to the innovation inventory? Is this even a thought worth pursuing?
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