Friday, July 21, 2017

Knowing Knowledge (Book 21 of 30)

Title:  Knowing Knowledge
Author: George Siemens

I haven't read things this abstract since finishing my Ph.D. (20 years ago exactly).  I'm not sure why I find this book so challenging.  Perhaps my neurons have gone soft and I can't handle challenging texts. Perhaps I just don't connect with what the author is trying to say.

This book is about knowledge and learning and NOT about knowledge management, but it can influence how we think about knowledge management.  I'm just going to pick at a few quotes, which I'm sure aren't going to do justice to the book.
"I am used to writing in hypertext.  Concepts relate to other concepts -- but not in a linear manner" (p. vii)."
That much I understand perfectly.  That's why I like using concept maps and insight maps.  They allow me to explore how concepts and ideas are related, they allow me to map the complexity of inter-relationships and connections between things.

When you combine mapping and hypertext, you get something very interesting.  I've used that to document lessons learned and insights from projects and it allows for a much deeper understanding of how things are connected within a project but also across projects.  If I can combine mapping, hypertext and a wiki, then I'm in paradise and the neurons go in hyper-mode.
"Learning is the process of creating networks.  Nodes are external entities which we can use to form a network.  Or nodes may be people, organizations, libraries, websites, journals, database, or any other source of information.  The act of learning is one of creating an external network of nodes -- where we connect and form information and knowledge sources.  The learning that happens in our heads is an internal network (neural).  Learning networks can then be perceived as structures that we create in order to stay current and continually acquire, experience, create, and connect new knowledge (external). And learning networks can be perceived as structures that exist within our minds (internal) in connecting and creating patterns of understanding" (p. 29).
I have a more simplistic view of how it works:  We learn by connecting new information with prior knowledge, and in the process, we create new knowledge.  It's new to us.  It's not necessarily new to anyone else.  When we create knowledge that's new to everyone, we can call it an innovation.
"The connections that enable us to learn more are more important than our current state of knowing" (p.30). "  
 Yes.  I get that.  Learning to learn is more important than any specific knowledge we may have acquired or can ever acquire.
"Knowledge is a river, not a reservoir."  
Yes.  I've used that analogy in a recent presentation to emphasize the need to facilitate knowledge flows and pay less attention to repositories of knowledge assets (such as lessons learned databases).

  • There's a section on adaptive knowledge and adaptive learning that deserves another careful read, perhaps to see how it compares to USAID's CLA (Collaborating, Learning and Adapting) approach.  There may also be some connections to the agile movement.

No comments: