This is the title of Stephen Downes’ presentation to Week 25 of ChangeMooc
Here is the link to a Recording of the session
Also here: Slides, audio and Elluminate video recording
My notes from the session
What is knowledge? It is not memory. It is not facts or laws, which are slippery. It is not in the network. It IS the network, the recognition of the emergence of patterns. We are recognising beings. Knowing is NOT being able to NOT recognise (the double negative is important).
Emergence is how we see patterns of connectivity, how we recognise patterns as something,
Patterns form in different ways, e.g. Hebbian Associationism (based on concurrency), Back Propagation (based on desired outcome), Boltzman (based on ‘settling’ , annealing). Experience results in forming and breaking connections.
Meaning is contained within the mind itself. We cannot tie meaning to what it directly represents. The external referent is not important. It’s what is in our own mind that is important.
Theorists confuse public and personal knowledge. Personal knowledge is in our own mind. Public knowledge is out there in artefacts. They are different. There is no transformation from one to the other.
Knowledge is the organisation of connections in networks.
If a human mind can come to ‘know’, and if a human mind is essentially a network, then any network can come to ‘know’, and for that matter so can society. (Slide 13)
04-03-12 Correction: The comment from Matthias Melcher below has prompted me to listen to the recording of the session and present this more accurately. This is what Stephen said in the session about personal and public knowledge.
Knowledge is the organisation of a set of connections in a network. It follows directly that if there are different kinds of networks there are different kinds of knowledge. There are two distinct kinds of knowledge (but not only two kinds). Our personal knowledge is the organisation of the set of connections in our own mind. Public knowledge is the organisation of all the artifacts in society. The organisation of society is not the same as the organisation of a personal mind.
What is learning? Learning is to practice and reflect (teaching is to model and demonstrate). We can only create an environment in which learning can occur. For personal learning we use the social network (physical) to create neuronal connections (personal).
Developing personal knowledge is more like exercising than like inputting, absorbing or remembering (Slide 17)
We recognise neural connections by performance in the environment/network. A personal learning environment is one in which we immerse ourselves into the workings of a community. Learning is ‘being’ in an environment.
What is community? We don’t need a personal learning environment to engage with the community. We do not need to all do things the same way. The main thing is that we are connected. Knowledge emerges from the set of connections between us. Groups work on the premise of collaboration and sameness, but networks and community work on the premise of cooperation and connection.
Networks work on the basis of four basic principles – autonomy, diversity, openness and interaction. Without these, the network will stagnate and die.
What stood out for me? One thing Stephen said really jumped out at me.
Learning is becoming more and more like the person who is doing the teaching.
I think I must have misunderstood the intention behind this statement, as on one level I find it disturbing – and on another just completely counter to my own experience.
As a teacher, I want learners to develop their own identities. The last thing I want is for them to turn out like me! Whilst some learners will choose to model themselves on their teachers, many others will make a conscious choice to be as unlike their teacher as possible. The issue is surely more about how learners develop and recognize their own identities than becoming like the person who is doing the teaching?
04-03-12 Clarification: Again, in response to Matthias Melcher’s comment here is a bit more about what Stephen said in the session:
A person who practices in the environment is going to come to be like the person who is doing the teaching. The person who is teaching is not presenting simply facts but presenting an entire way of being. The person who is learning is watching this and attempting to replicate it.
04-03-12 Further comment from me. I am aware that there is some risk in sharing my notes. They will be read ‘out of context’ and obviously interpreted according to the personal perceptions of the reader in their context and I am not and never will be ‘infallible’ in my interpretations. Stephen himself has said that he knows that his writing and presentations are likely to be misinterpreted however careful he is with his use of words.
I was also reminded during this presentation of a comment made in the most recent Networked Learning Hotseat about how ‘we notice things when we are ready’. I have heard Stephen talk about some of these ideas a few times before, but this time I noticed things I haven’t noticed before – must be patterns emerging?