Home » Posts tagged 'knowledge'

Tag Archives: knowledge

Life is not a game and we are more than merely players

The act of playing chess, and the process of thinking it through is the joy and the learning.

What will be the point as or once all the answers are online?

Where we let algorithms and the Web provide the answers?

Does this mean that anyone can be a doctor so long as they have a smartphone in their pocket and a good connection?

Knowledge acquired is how learning occurs.

The learning process is necessary in order for the brain to make sense of it (or to make nonsense of it)

The key is in the memory making.

We learn, each of us, in a unique way.

Less so because of when or where we were born,

But because we were made this way.

‘Je suis comme je suis, je suis faite comme ca’.

Our DNA is unique and the brain it constructs also.

Not hard considering ….

  • There are some 98 billion neurons in there.
  • And every neuron has some 10,000 connections.

It is this mass of interconnections that makes us both ridiculous and smart,

Able to think in metaphors, provide insight, solve problems, conform, deform and inform.

And fall in and out of love.

Enthusiasms bubble up like farts in the wind.

Is life  like a game of chess?

Are we  its players and pieces whether we like it or not?

It is surely the sense of participation and control that makes life worth living?

Which suggests that absolute machine power – Google-eyed algorithms – could be no better than prison.

Life is not a game,

And we are more than merely players.

There is no need to strut and fret our hour upon the stage.

Unless …

It is a story we tell, defined by our actions and responses,

A rollercoaster of our own making.

There is no need for noise and tension, where we can be cool in war and love.


The purpose of education …

XIV Paralympic Games

XIV Paralympic Games (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


“The purpose of education is not to make information accessible, but rather to teach learners how to transform accessible information into useable knowledge. Decades of cognitive science research have demonstrated that the capability to transform accessible information into useable knowledge is not a passive process but an active one”. CAST (2011)


Constructing useable knowledge, knowledge that is accessible for future decision-making, depends not upon merely perceiving information, but upon active “information processing skills” like selective attending, integrating new information with prior knowledge, strategic categorization, and active memorization.Individuals differ greatly in their skills in information processing and in their access to prior knowledge through which they can assimilate new information. CAST (2011)


Proper design and presentation of information – the responsibility of any curriculum or instructional methodology – can provide the scaffolds necessary to ensure that all learners have access to knowledge. CAST (2011)


I recommend the last link in its entirety above most that I have reviewed. It is a resource, It is succinct. It is practical. It respects the fact that all students come to this kind of learning with a set of experiences and skills – and tactics and tools that work for them. Why make someone play the tuba when they play the harp perfectly well? A metaphor worth developing I wonder in relation learning to play an instrument, read music, pass theory tests, perform solo or in an ensemble, to sight read etc:


Do you recall the paraorchestra performing with Coldplay at the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympics who represented the widest range and degree of disability? http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/sep/01/orchestra-disabled-people-play-paralympics




  • Provide options for perception
  • Provide options for language, mathematical expressions, and symbols
  • Provide options for comprehension




  • Offer ways of customizing the display of information
  • Offer alternatives for auditory information
  • Offer alternatives for visual information
  • Support decoding text, mathematical notation, and symbols
  • Clarify vocabulary and symbols
  • Clarify syntax and structure
  • Promote understanding across languages
  • Illustrate through multiple media




CAST (2011). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.0. Wakefield, MA: Author.




National Center On Universal Design for Learning


Guideline 3: Provide options for comprehension







Lest we forget – memory games and other tactics to aid knowledge retention

Fig.1. Ebbinghaus (1885) The Forgetting Curve

‘The psychological conclusion demands a distribution of repetitions such that some of them should be produced at a later time, separated from the first repetition by a pause’. (Vygotsky, 1926)

More recently, in the last ten years in fact, Dr B Price Kerfoot of Harvard Medical School (2006) created a platform called SpacedEd that uses multichoice questions, typically and most successfully with first year medical students, where sets of questions are randomised then sent out as text or email to tackle, I suppose, what Ebbinghaus (1885) identified with his ‘Forgetting Curve’.

An evidence based paper on the effectiveness of ‘spaced learning’ showed how there was better retention three months, six months and a year down the line.


Ebbinghaus, H (1885) Memory: A contribution to experimental phsychology.

Kerfoot, B, P (2006) SPACED EDUCATION. Interactive Spaced-Education to Teach the Physical Examination: A randomized Controlled Trial.

Vygotsky, L (1926) Educational Psychology


Towards my own theory of learning


How do we perceive and share knowledge? What matters most in this equation? Society, the institution, department or the individual educator? Learning occurs at the interface between individuals, between the teacher and pupil, between pupils and of course between the thinkers, the educators, researchers and academics. This interface is expressed as an artefact: a lecture, a book, a TV appearance, a podcast, a chapter in a book or a paper – as an expression of a set of ideas. This interface is also a conversation, in a tutorial, at a conference or less formally in passing over a meal, or drink (in the Oxbridge experience at the High Table, in the senior, middle or junior common rooms, in halls and rooms where societies and loose groupings of people meet, as well as in studies and rooms).

On the one hand we like to put the institution above the person, whether in academia or the commercial world we rank and recognise Oxbridge and the Russell Group ‘above’ other universities while, for example, in Law we put Freshfields, Clifford Chance and Herbert Smith in the top ten of 125 or 500 legal practices. However, it is an the individual level, at the interface between one person and another, one mind and another, where the learning occurs, where the knowledge is applied and changed, and in various forms written up or written out to cause or record effect.

It is at this interface, where minds meet, where ideas are catalysed and formed.

The Digital Scholar : Martin Weller (Notes)

11 Sep 11


I developed a craving a year ago to read a book from cover to cover, rather than reading papers or bits of papers. Initially I got the book in the post, then to a Kindle. And now on an iPad and iPhone too. So the last three days I’ve read Martin Weller’s new book ‘The Digital Scholar.’ Read on, or read to me on the Kindle while I took notes on the iPad.

Notes run to several pages, all rather cryptic at the moment.

If you’e doing the MAODE the other books I would recommend are:

  • Diffusion of Innovations. (5th Ed 2005) Rogers.
  • Educationl Psychology. (1926) Vygotsky
  • Rethinking Pedagogy in a Digital Age. (2007) Beetham & Sharpe (eds)

This is one of fifty+ points I’ve noted from the book

‘This is a period of transition for scholarship, as significant as any other in its history, from the founding of universities to the establishment of peer review and the scientific method. It is also a period that holds tension and even some paradoxes: it is both business as usual and yet a time for considerable change; individual scholars are being highly innovative and yet the overall picture is one of reluctance; technology is creating new opportunities while simultaneously generating new concerns and problems’.

Weller (2011)

Development and Learning

This chapter is on ‘Development and learning

This forms part of the read for block one of the MBA module ‘Creativity, Innovation and Change’ with the OU which I am taking as an elective for my Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE).

TO LISTEN TO: CD, Audio 8 ‘Developing Participation’

Box 9.1 (To add if copyright permits) TO ADD

The comparison to the Romans doing nothing for us is surely disingenuous, nor do I think it historically accurate to presume that the ‘better slaves’ were exported. It may show how a civil society may implode and become vulnerable to the brutish invasion of the less civilised.

How do you cement change?

  • Beneficiaries
  • Champions
  • Informed
  • Motivated
  • Financed

Other examples of where great civilisations have left no trace. But they many have: Romans, Greeks, Normans, Vikings (not even a great civilisation), no so sure about the Maya or Incas.

(Kotter et al are mentioned more than once but no reference given. Probably ‘Marketing: an introduction 2006) Adapted from J Brooker, Creative Gorilla online newsletter 2005. Here’s a link.).


  • Team Forming  (Henry, 2006:189)
  • Forming and storming in which members establish their identities (Tuckman, 1965)
  • Establish group norms and practices.

‘Only after people feel recognised and norms are agreed is the group likely to perform well.  (Henry, 2006:189)

A problem to solve:

  • Problem exploration
  • Idea generation
  • Implementation
  • Analyse the situation
  • Define the problem
  • Develop options
  • Select a strategy
  • Develop an action plan

Parallel and sequential activities required for new product development.

Personal development:

  • Piaget (1929) referred to often and read for the MAODE (Masters in Open and Distance Education, with the OU)
  • Erickson (1959)
  • Maslow (1962)
  • Kohlberg (1969)
  • Perry (1970)

Development of society, civilisations, agriculture, and industrial.

‘It is possible to subdivide the onotogenetic and phylogenetic stages differently’ . (Henry, 2006:190)

  • Ontogentic means: ‘The origin and development of an individual organism from embryo to adult’.
  • Phylogenetic: ‘Relating to or based on evolutionary development or history: a phylogenetic classification of species’

(See Reader, Henry’s chapter on Creative Management and Development … Actually that’s ‘Creativity, Management and Well-Being’.



This reminds me of a Nelson Bolles activity, from ‘What Color’s your parachute?‘ I recall writing the ‘good husband, loving father’ thing.

Level of or lack of control, rather than more or less hours worked is what matters. (Henry, 2006:193)



Can they be thought of as:

  • Relationships (colleagues, mentor, coach or buddy)
  • Iterative cycles
  • Balancing views


  • Goal (identify a desired goal)
  • Reality (checking reality, enumerating options to move nearer the goal)
  • Who/What/Whom (identify what specific actions are required, commit to a time for action.



Whitmore (2002)



I do wonder!

  1. My late father’s death and being an executor of his will with his fourth wife. I should not have gone near the thing as it scrambled my head for at least three years. I have to learn to say ‘No!’ I was neither professionally nor emotionally up to it.
  2. Engestrom’s ‘Activity Systems’ I think I get it, the representation of something complex such as knowledge creation or idea generation as a result of people or groups participating to solve a problem. My approach is to read references until in this case I got a book that made sense ‘From Teams to Knots’ with case studies that included live TV production.
  3.  Producing ‘Which Firm of Solicitors?’ and directing it, indeed the entire entrepreneurial package (book, video, distribution) setting up a production company, raising the finances, turning a profit and repeating the exercise two years later.

Handy (1991) major learning experiences are usually precipitated by new and unexpected challenges and crises. (Henry, 2006:196)

Indeed, though my inclination to put my energies into something new each time may be less productive.

Three forms of learning:

  • Making good deficiencies
  • Unlearning assumptions
  • Co-learning with others

Knowledge is situated. ‘someone from the private sector may lack the necessary public-sector management knowledge‘. p 196

Our brains are plastic and store information in idiosyncratic ways that are peculiar to ourselves. (Henry, 2006:197)

I say!

Some people are naturally better at certain ways of working than others.

Gardner (1993) people may have a surfeit if one and a deficit if another.

  • Linguistic
  • Logical-mathematical
  • Visual-spatial
  • Musical
  • kinesthetic
  • intrapersonal
  • Interpersonal

P.198 ‘Our intelligence, temperament, cognitive style and motivation combine to give us certain strengths and weaknesses. The spontaneous may be adaptable but possibly not so organised’.

‘Struggling in a job that does not allow you to use your strengths and asks you to employ skills that are not natural to you, especially for long periods of time, is difficult for anyone. It can also be soul-destroying’.



Note your five highest scores: these are your strengths as you perceive them. What do others think?

  • Perceptive                 10
  • Humorous                  3
  • Energetic                 7
  • Leadership                5
  • Decisive                       6
  • Open                         9
  • Courageous         3-7 it depends on my mood 😦
  • Team Player            2-8 it depends on the game!
  • Diligent                   3-9 it depends on if I have given myself the time or the role that I am playing. I can proofreader the work of other people but not my own.
  • Appreciative          7
  • Disciplined               5 it depends on the context and there being one project nor two dozen.
  • Loyal                        4 Where recognised, my motivations are intrinsic.
  • Ingenious                9 given half a chance
  • Sincere                   10 too much so
  • Calm                             2 things worry me. I need to be part of the right team, or have the right team around me.
  • Empathetic                       7
  • Practical                         2 I struggle with the Freeview box that’s gone wiring and still don’t get Google+ but I can put up a fence and change a light-socket.
  • Fair                                    7
  • Stoical                              4
  • Generous                          2-8 hit and miss
  • Wise                                    1-9 it depends with whom and where, context is everything.
  • Modest                              2 I guess I’m not.
  • Prudent                             1 I don’t suppose I am having just dine this exercise
  • Forgiving                              1 I guess not as my father and two of my stepmother’s will never be forgiven.

How many of your strengths or weaknesses are you called upon to use regularly at work?

Of the above? Six.

 ‘If personal and professional development were modelled on the practices found among adults who are functioning particularly well, we might spend rather more time encouraging employees to pursue their interests actively, have fun and develop their support network, rather than asking them to reflect on their problems, skill deficiencies and learning points. Successful creative people are also known to pursue activities they enjoy. (Henry, 2006:199)

I believe I am highly perceptive and can get the measure of a communications problem quickly.

Unlearning and deconstruction.
(see Argyris in the Creative Management and Development reader).

NASA Challenger disaster.


‘Yes or No’

I have to group my week’s work as one or the other then get on and deliver on what I have promised.

Much if our learning occurs as we build on ideas we glean from others. (Handy, 2006:202)

Group-based learning:

‘Knowledge emerges from relationships amongst connected people’.

  • Action learning
  • Focus groups
  • Quality circles
  • Creative problem solving
  • Participatory rural appraisal

‘This kind if learning happens informally’: at the bar, over lunch or in the kitchen, travelling to or from a meeting or conference.


Lissack, P., and Richardson,K.A. (2003) ‘Models without morals: towards the ethical use of business models’. Emergence, Vol.5, No. 2, pp. 72-103

Gardener, H, (1993) Frames if Mind: Theory of Multiple Intelligences, 2nd edn London. Fontana.

Henry, J and the course team (2006, 2010) ‘Creativity, Cognition and Development” Book 1 B822 Creativity, Innovation and Change.

Shiva, V. (1993) Monocultures of the mind: Perspectives on Biodiversity and Biotechnology, London/Atlantic Heights NJ/Penang: Zed Books.

Tuckman, B.W. (1965) ‘Development sequences in small groups’, Psychological Bulletin, Vol.6, pp. 384-99

Whitmore, J (2002) Coaching for Performance, 2nd edn., London: Nicolas Brearley.

Writing is an act of converting tacit knowledge into articulable knowledge

Externalisation is a process of articulating tacit knowledge into explicit concepts. It is a quintessential knowledge- creation process in that tacit knowledge becomes explicit, taking the shapes of metaphors, analogies, concepts, hypotheses, or models. When we attempt to conceptualise an image, we express its essence mostly in language – writing is an act of converting tacit knowledge into articulable knowledge (Emig, 1983).


Emig, J (1983) The Web of Meaning. Upper Montclair. N.J.

Everything digital is random

Think of this as a leaf

We’ve gone through an era of learning as ‘trees of knowledge’; now all the leaves have blown off. With everything tagged and searchable you can still find what you need on the ground.

This is the idea

I buy this, more or less. I’d been thinking of it like this for some years, but today I’ve moved on – it doesn’t work.

It doesn’t work given that the leaves can be any asset that can be digitised. With the leaf analogy we have to set parameters and have types of leaf (even across plant species, or across the cycle of seasons in temperate climate, there isn’t scale or variety that is adequate).

I question digital data or aggregations of binary code being given an organic reference

I prefer to think of the Internet and the World Wide Web as an ocean and ‘stuff’ as water molecules.With this analogy we can throw in the water-cycle, icebergs and glaciers, clouds, rivers and tributaries … snow and storms.

Everything is random

It is until you give it value, until you file or tag it. If you neither file nor tag, then your digital ‘stuff’ may was well not exist, not for sharing at least. How will you find it?

‘Everything is miscellaneous’ (David Weinberger) is a worthwhile read: cover-to-cover.

‘The best digital strategy is to dump everything into one large miscellaneous pile and leave it to the machines to find exactly the table settings we need for tonight’s dinner’. p85

I was reading ‘The Cluetrain Manifesto’ that includes a David Weinberger contribution too – I loathe it (for now). I’ll keep wondering why:

Because it reads like a collection of smalmy articles for ‘Esquire’ ?

Because it invites dialogue but in print form there is none – like going to a party and only being in a position to listen to the guys who have had too much to drink and think they know it all.


(This may be a love/hate relationship developing here … it challenges me to return to the text. Which reminds me, it was intriguing to find the OU Library copy of the book full of pencil mark highlights and notes. See, a reader couldn’t resist i.e. it isn’t content for print).

Weinberger imagined what it would be like to be sitting in a new home with 157 moving boxes all labelled ‘miscellaneous’ – (87) Sound like a great way to get out of a house, just box it up and go. I even like the random nature of what you then find yourself with.

Where is the role of serendipity in this searchable and tagged world of ours?

Thinking allowed?


%d bloggers like this: