What is knowledge and do we care?

Dave Cormier asked this question in the Ustream session on Friday. It was rather glossed over, but at the time I thought -‘Good for him’. GS felt we should care because  ‘so much in life has an epistemological foundation’. I thought it interesting that at this point someone felt the need to define epistomology for us all in the chat room ( as epistemology = theory of knowledge). I haven’t yet looked this up to see whether it’s correct!!

SD has also expressed surprise in a Daily (today?), that educators appear not to be that interested in the question of what is knowledge and are more interested in the process. Is this something to do with workload and overstretched teachers?

I think I am interested in both, although since even GS and SD couldn’t agree on what is knowledge, I don’t think I am any the wiser.

According to GS all knowledge is connectivist in nature. Presumably that means that there is no knowlege that is not connected. Knowledge can’t stand alone.

According to SD all knowlege is associationist rather than connectivist, but he didn’t explain what he means by associationist. Does he mean that knowledge is connected through the senses (qualities) through quantities and by being connective?  I suspect that this sentence shows how completely confused I am and I do wonder whether it is worth caring about! I need a picture in my head about what associationist means and currently I don’t have one.

Another thing that I have picked up over the week, is that knowledge is distributed across networks. That much makes sense. But the business of knowledge being externalised is still unclear to me. Does this mean that knowledge is something different to and separate from my own personal ‘knowing’? I have to admit to being completely lost here. I’ll have to return to the forums – but the number of posts is ‘blinding’! Aaaaargh”!!!

Like others I did not gel with the coal analogy. I’m not sure what SD was getting at with this. I think the error was in choosing an inanimate object to reflect a living network.

Off the top of my head (and definitely not related to any wider reading yet) it seems to me that

  • we probably do need to think about knowledge differently these days because the internet has made it possible for many people to launch in with their expertise (e.g Wikipedia), so in this sense knowledge is distributed across a network
  • but some people will have more expertise in a given area than others and we will need to be able to navigate networks to find these people. How will we judge who is worth ‘listening to’ and who is not?
  • the advent of connectivity across the internet also means that we can all contribute to developing knowledge and expertise in specific domains, but the question remains of how to judge the validity of expertise
  • and it still leaves the question of the value of ‘knowing’ as a personal quality/attribute. What will be the role of teachers in this distributed knowledge network? What will happen to leaders, to experts, to geniuses? Will they naturally rise to the surface like bubbles of oxygen in a bog?

I have to admit to not having read these yet. Perhaps it will all become clearer when I have!