Half life of knowledge

I’ve been rereading George Siemens Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. I think this makes the third time I’ve read it in the past 6 months. I read it because I feel George is on to something here, and as I blog and continue to expand my own learning by “connecting specialized nodes or information sources” together, I find that the more I connect nodes the more I understand Connectivism.

In his paper George talks about the half life of knowledge and that at its current pace of “doubling every 18 months” knowledge is almost extinct by the time we learn or read about it.

I’ve been following the news lately on the bird flu thing and I am amazed at how fast the information about bird flu has been gathered and shared with everyone in the world. What amazes me even more is the research that is going on to try and find a vaccine for a strain of the bird flu that doesn’t exist yet. Thanks to the internet and the ‘flatting of the world’ as Thomas L. Friedman puts it. Knowledge can flow fast and free from researcher to researcher no matter where they are in the world. This information sharing speeds up the pace of research, which in return speeds up the pace of finding a vaccine. WKOW 27 out of Wisconsin reported this on Tuesday Nov. 2:

On Monday, UW [University of Wisconsin] researchers announced a possible breakthrough in developing a vaccine for the bird flu. While a typical flu vaccine takes 6-9 months to develop, the new procedure shows promise for cutting that time by more than half.

There you have it, the half life of knowledge. Something that use to take 6-9 months to develop now only takes 3-4 months to produce and maybe even faster like 18 days?

It is quiet amazing if you go to Google News and just type in bird flu or bird flu vaccine to see the amount of information that is being generated and shared.

If I was a high school science teacher or current events teacher, I would be having a great time teaching class right now. This is one of those topics that demonstrates that the Information Age is here and that this new Age means new possibilities.

I wish I could share this with all the teachers out there who don’t quiet get information literacy, or understand that information today and information skills are more important then any single subject you will teach. To teach students to find, gather, analyze, apply and assess information is a skill that truly belongs to the Information Age.

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