Technology and the learning framework

I found this article quite interesting as it has a lot to do with the current work I am engaged in. It also prompted me to write some of my thoughts on the subject and its specific influence in creating knowledge. (
The article talks about how technology can be used in the classroom from various perspectives – as a tool, a medium and a network. The concept of online learning has been gaining ground, especially in the corporate world, with technology playing an enabling role. However, perhaps the most significant aspect of this development is the complete rethinking of the concept of online learning. From trying to replicate a classroom environment, we have now learnt to harness the power of the medium in transforming the manner in which learning happens online. From a position of where content was king, and the classroom provided a mechanism for providing content, the new medium has significantly reduced the prominence we afforded to content. Google has rendered content ubiquitous; it brings to us a veritable cornucopia of content that we seek. In fact, perhaps a trifle too much! How often have we gone beyond the first page of search results that Google throws up?

To paraphrase a verse from one of an ancient Indian text, knowledge was:

aachaaryaat.h paadam.h aadatte, paadaM shishhyaH svamedhayaa |
paadaM sabrahmacharibhyaH, paadaM kaalakrameNa cha ||

A fourth of knowledge is obtained from the teacher, a fourth due to the student’s own intellect, a fourth from his friends and classmates, and the remaining fourth from experience.

I think in the current context, we can translate that to the four perspectives of learning – knowledge handed down from scholars, knowledge obtained through study, knowledge obtained through interactions, knowledge gained from experience.  Here, the knowledge through self-study comes to us from various sources – the content that is available online; the web 2.0 features are those that enable us interact with peers and classmates, which provide additional insight – blogs, chat, forums etc. The ability to consult the expert is one way of reaching out to scholars.  However, perhaps one valuable knowledge that got passed down generations was the wisdom resident with the teachers.  And the ability to harness that knowledge is perhaps the access to obtain knowledge from the teacher, and learn from the experience of someone else.

So, perhaps then, we can look at a model where learning becomes a medium for turning content into knowledge.

Content, Learning, Knowledge

As shown in the diagram above, Content gets abstracted into learning modules and through the process of learning, interactions and abstractions, help in generating knowledge. This knowledge goes back into the system as content which again goes through the process of abstraction, refinement and re-generation of knowledge. In each of these cycles, the new experience and learnings are put back into the repository thus creating fresh content, and thence new knowledge.

The ability to arrive at the right tools which will transform this content to learning will perhaps be the key to successful knowledge management systems – one which will not be viewed merely as huge electronic databases, but virtual gurukulams (schools) which will be the fountainhead for knowledge transformation. In the absence of such a process, we are more likely to end up with mere electronic databases which perhaps consume time and energy and result in KM being viewed as ineffective solutions for innovation.

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