My own practice (and no doubt yours) has been shaped by many different learning theorists. George Siemens, for me, stands out articulating what I felt but did not know how to express about the changing nature of knowledge in the Digital Age. Below I’ve compiled a few of my favorite excerpts from his book Knowing Knowledge, published in 2006, two years before he taught the first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) with Alec Couros and Stephen Downes.
Learning has many dimensions. No one model or definition will fit every situation. CONTEXT IS CENTRAL. Learning is a peer to knowledge. To learn is to come to know. To know is to have learned. We seek knowledge so that we can make sense. Knowledge today requires a shift from cognitive processing to pattern recognition.
Construction, while a useful metaphor, fails to align with our growing understanding that our mind is a connection-creating structure. We do not always construct (which is high cognitive load), but we do constantly connect.
We learn foundational elements through courses…but we innovate through our own learning.
The Achilles heel of existing theories rests in the pace of knowledge growth. All existing theories place processing (or interpretation) of knowledge on the individual doing the learning. This model works well if the knowledge flow is moderate. A constructivist view of learning, for example, suggests that we process, interpret, and derive personal meaning from different information formats. What happens, however, when knowledge is more of a deluge than a trickle? What happens when knowledge flows too fast for processing or interpreting?