Offloading Knowledge

As I’ve been reading the book Knowing Knowledge the concept that George Siemens presents of offloading content and information into the network is finding a place with me.

I’ve been thinking about this for days now and how my netvibes page has become my network of information. No longer do I have to learn something just in case, but instead the skill of being able to find information when I need it is what I need to learn how to do.

Today was a great example. I’m getting a teacher all excited about creating digital stories. We were talking about me coming into the classroom to teach the students how to create the stories when I remembered that I really don’t know the ins and outs of Photostory3, the program we’ll be using. But I do know where to go to find that information. So a quick check of my PLN and my network of information and I found my del.icio.us bookmark to David Jakes Photostory 3 Tutorials.

It’s this notion of offloading information into the network that makes, in my opinion, RSS feeds to be the #1 best web 2.0 tool for everyday users, and should be the #1 tool we start with when teaching teachers. Once you are connected to nods of information, and understanding how those nods create a personal network for you, do you take the next step and start becoming a nod for others.

It would be interesting to see how many people started reading and collecting their nods of information before they became a nod themselves. I remember setting up a Bloglines account and adding feeds. Once I saw how amazingly cool this new tool was I was hooked and 3 weeks later I started this blog. I wanted to take this new network of information I was creating and add to it, remix thoughts, and add my voice to the conversation. Some people feel that way, others just read or read and comment using their network. Blogging isn’t for everyone (as much as I push everyone to do it) some people just don’t feel comfortable with it. (Fair enough, I don’t feel comfortable reading books)

So as my first semester technology classes come to a close I’m starting to think about how I want second semester to run. I’m dropping Moodle all together in favor of the WordPress MU site I just finished setting up earlier today, and of course I have a blog on the new network as well. (Just what I needed….another blog). The first couple sessions of class we will set up our personal learning network. We’ll probably use netvibes as I have found kids really like the interface and being able to add other tabs for themselves once they get into it is a plus. Once we have our network and our nods on that network established we’ll set up blogs. I’m looking forward to this, the possibilities for students to make more digital stories and embed them in their blogs, to create podcasts for assignments, oh the fun.

On thing that I started doing this semester was taking the first 10 minutes of every class for students to read through their network (RSS aggregator via Elgg). We then do a “What’s New” session where we talk about anything cool the students found while they were reading. Everything from the latest music release, to Google buying YouTube have been topics. The students enjoy it, and we get to discuss different items relevant to them every class period. If I were a Language Arts teacher, this would definitely be a daily routine. Think of the exposure these students are getting to the written word. CNN, BBC, and TechCrunch are three very popular sites the kids get their news from. Some days I give student time to write on their blogs about the news they’ve found, why they found it interesting and what it means to them. Being in a culturally diverse class makes it even more fascinating. As one boy from America follows the New England Patriots so we frequently get updates on how his team is doing. One of my Filipino girls follows the news out of the Philippines, another out of India.

It’s this notion of moving knowledge to the network that should relax some people. I get teachers all the time come to me and say “I can’t possibly learn it all” and you shouldn’t. Allow the network to work for you, we are still caught thinking we need to “know it all” when what we really need is to “Know how to find it”. That’s a change for education. As George Siemens put it:

The content needs to be findable at the learner’s point of need, as compared to learning being provided just-in-case. p. 37

We need to help students and teachers build these networks of findable knowledge and quit teaching just-in-case knowledge. Your network will gather the information for you…you just need to know how to find it.

[tags]Knowing Knowledge, George Siemens, offloading Knowledge, nods, network, RSS, photostory3[/tags]

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2 Comments

  1. I really like the idea of giving over some time to reading RSS feeds in the class. As you point out, a really relevant way of encouraging the pupils to read, and excellent for engendering debate and discussion! I am going to try this myself… once I can get our filtering software to stop blocking netvibes for the pupils!

    Thanks for a great post.

  2. Hey Jeff: just finished some more screencasts-only 2 more to go. link to jakesonline.org

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