Wednesday, June 3, 2009

We participate and therefore we are

As John Seely Brown says, ~Instead of “I think therefore I am”, it is “We participate and therefore we are”~

Social learning has always been around. And has probably been one of the most effective means of learning as Bandura and Vygotsky had said long back. We turned toward our colleague or friend to ask for help when stuck. We have built communities of practices to facilitate and construct our own understanding. Today, this is being facilitated by technology--making the reach and spread of our learning "groups" wider, more diverse and therefore richer.
Refer to:
Storytelling: Scientist's Perspective: John Seely Brown

We as individuals know very little of most things--only from our individual perspective. Thus, we are often like the blind men feeling an elephant and describing the parts they encounter--but never quite arriving at the whole. In discussion with others, the whole is gradually formed thus enabling us to view the entirety, and arrive at a "holistic understanding"--a much bandied about term.

What is new are the technology and the applications that have evolved and are evolving to support social learning and sharing of knowledge and understanding. These applications, I believe, came into existence because the need was always there. Thus, our natural urge to share, discuss, construct knowledge make us use applications like Twitter to share information thus building our own microcosm of similarly interested people.

Here is a simple analysis that I have done--very simplistic, just highlighting the main drivers, as I see them, of technology being increasingly used to actively support social learning. What has probably made us realize the importance of social learning today and so optimally use the technology available are a combination/juxtaposition of several factors--a very simplistic analysis:

1. Recession
2. Decreased training budget
3. Lack of formal training because of point 2
4. Ever-decreasing shelf life of knowledge
5. Ever-increasing need to be on top of things to survive in this market
6. Sheer struggle for survival--both individual and at an organization level
7. A knowledge-driven economy
8. Need to be innovative, to be cost and time effective
9. Survival instinct making us turn to tools and features available for free that can help us to keep ahead
10. Twitter, Facebook, Ning, etc., answering this need in different ways
11. Features of Web 2.0 no longer seen as technological innovations but as tools of survival
12. Collective knowledge evolving as a strong weapon to counteract recession

Social learning thus coming out this crucible because it is free and available and powerful...

The tools are now helping to trim redundancy and "structure" this initial unstructured flow of information.



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