After reading G.Siemens’ article Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age, I have several thoughts and concerns.
I like the idea of Connectivism in the way that it emphasizes on connecting, organizational learning and the importance of getting information. The author said,
“The pipe is more important than the content within the pipe. Our ability to learn what we need for tomorrow is more important than what we know today…. When knowledge, however, is needed, but not known, the ability to plug into sources to meet the requirements becomes a vital skill.”
I agree that it is vital to know how to gain information when needed, given the current rapid changing environment of most careers; But I doubt that Connectivism focuses more on information rather than knowledge.
We can get information by connecting with friends, internet, organization, etc, but how can we make the information to knowledge, to apply to our lives, to solve our problems? And often the situation is, when you really need certain knowledge, you don’t know where to start looking or what information you should get. However, if you’ve already possessed the knowledge you need, you are likely to tackle the problem in a way that other people may not possibly think of, and it is much easier for you to identify any information you need further.
A simple instance is when you are dealing with a social problem, a good way is to look back into history and reflect upon the current situation. If you don’t know history and simply rely on looking for information online, you may get some facts and a glimpse, but you are hardly likely to get some real insights. However, a person knowing well on history can immediately link some thoughts to the current situation and knows exactly which period, which country to look into, then some simple searches on details will meet the needs.
Let me take another example on the infamous rapid-changing industry: IT. This is an industry you have to learn for a life-time and keep pace with the emerging new technologies. But even though a person has to be equipped with sufficient programming knowledge on fundamental languages to start career. And after that, he/she will normally find learning a new language rather easily, say, the new Apple’s language Swift, any experienced programmer will not complain of its difficulty to learn.
Similarly, I was a graphic designer before, and although Adobe keeps on releasing new versions of Photoshop, Illustrator every year, the basics remain the same. I would not have much trouble in learning the new version; in fact, the real trouble came with the installation!
In conclusion, I think the real problem is how to innate information to knowledge, and I believe we need to have profound and sound knowledge base before we move on to learn how to acquire information for the future.