Knowledge changed, so must I

“Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.”

Albert Einstein (attributed)


My understanding of knowledge is being severely challenged and hopefully adjusted…

When I started school (half a century ago!), students were perceived to be “learning” if the class was quiet – everyone sat at their own desks, with textbook and notebook, while the teacher imparted his wisdom to the group or individual students, walking up and down between neatly arranged rows of desks. Knowledge came from teachers and books…

Now it seems that Brown, Collins and Duguid (1989) have understood all along that knowledge has little worth in isolation, by itself. They reason that activity and situations are integral to cognition and learning. Learning that is embedded in activity and that makes deliberate use of social and physical contexts facilitate understanding and cognition (p. 32).

Fenwick and Edwards (2010) argue that knowing is “situated, embodied and distributed” (p. 24). Knowing cannot be separated from doing, is actively bound to social, cultural and physical contexts, is specific to a particular situation, has a tangible visible form, is not isolated, but distributed –  shared, spread over an area!

I now understand that an object of knowledge “is held together by a network of connections that must be continually performed to make knowledge visible and alive” (Fenwick & Edwards, 2010, p. 24). I think this is what Siemens (2006) calls “connective knowledge” (p. 3). Siemens actually makes me feel better about my misconceptions, he says knowledge has changed – from categorisation and hierarchies, to networks and ecologies. He reasons that our educational spaces and structures need to change accordingly (p. v).

How do we do this? How do I do this in our middle school library?

Siemens suggests we do this in the structures we create to hold our knowledge, the spaces where we dialogue about and enact our knowledge, and the tools we use to disseminate this knowledge (p. 4). There is so much more to learn, but on this Monday morning I will go forth and facilitate knowledge creation and dissemination in a structure (our library with its resources), and space (physical and virtually available) with appropriate tools available, where students can have dialogue, create and share knowledge.




Albert Einstein Quotes. (n.d.). Retrieved September 10, 2017, from Web site:

Brown, J. S., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educational researcher18(1), 32-42.

Fenwick, T., & Edwards, R. (2010). Actor-network theory in education. Routledge.

Siemens, G. (2006). Knowing knowledge. Lulu. com.





KN Artefact: Introduction to developing an online PLN

My Knowledge Networking Artefact, part instructional video, and part exploration tool, informs teachers about the nature and importance of an online personal learning network (PLN)  and introduces the progressive development of a PLN through use of social media, web platforms and online tools.

Here is how it came about…

The first school week of the year was expectedly full. It brought the unexpected opportunity to contribute to the process of individual development planning (IDP), by way of a series of mini-workshops to fellow faculty members at school. I grasped the chance to share with colleagues my journey to become a more engaged connected educator through the development of my online personal learning network (PLN).

This opportunity also focused my search for a topic for my INF532 Knowledge Networking (KN) Artefact. Could I combine these two opportunities?

After much experimentation with different platforms and tools I settled on Prezi Next as a platform for the mini-workshop presentation: PLN@ICSZ. It served the purpose of the presentation well. Prezi Next delivers a high-resolution presentation that reveals the textual and multimedia elements in a fluid, predetermined sequential format that allows a conversational storytelling flow. A pre-designed template, showing a 3-dimensional globe with 7 main elements presented in an arc around the globe, was chosen to represent our networked and connected world. This visual configuration allows a simple overview of main points at a glance, and shows the progression from one point to the next, depicting the journey of developing a PLN. Each one of the main elements give access to layers of nested sub-topics, which introduce the detailed content. Embedded independent learning objects (videos and a self-created animation) provide variation to the text-based content of the artefact and introduce a multimodal approach.

To comply with the specifications for the KN Artefact, a narrated version of the presentation was created with Quicktime. This video was published on YouTube and is embedded in this post.

The capability to travers a Prezi Next artefact in a non-sequential function is exploited in the design of the artefact and allows for dynamic exploration of the content – facilitating a self-directed learning experience. This approach is in line with Weibell’s (2011) Principles of Learning which argues that learners should “determine own learning targets, practice models, contexts, and reasons for engagement”. It also allowed implementation of Merrill’s approach to instructional design, by providing an opportunity to practise skills after new knowledge had been introduced – thereby creating a blended learning environment.

The three goals set for the KN Artefact were met:

  1. To create a presentation on PLN development for teachers.
  2. To produce a narrated recording of the presentation to use as instructional video, or revision tool.
  3. To repurpose the presentation as an artefact that can be used as an exploratory tool, in a self-directed investigation of the development of an online PLN.

Even so, the artefact presents various opportunities for improvement: The quality of audio transitions between the different elements in the recording is uneven and distracting. The fact that Prezi does not allow hyperlinks to be directly embedded in textual elements, but requires clicking on the actual URLs (which really are too small), detracts from the aesthetics of the visual presentation. The link between IDP planning and PLN development made sense in context of the face-to-face workshop, but seems somewhat forced in the recorded KN Artefact.

Please watch the video and explore the presentation tool for a self-directed blended learning experience about the development of an online PLN. Then leave me a comment…



Blended learning: Defining models and examining conditions to support implementation. (2014, September). Retrieved from Philadelphia Education Research Consortium (PERC) website:

Gretter, S. (2016, September 20). Becoming a connected educator: Building your personal learning network (PLN) [Blog post]. Retrieved from

GWteaches. (2017, August 12). ICSZ personal learning networks [Video file]. Retrieved from

Merrill, M. D. (2002). First principles of instruction. ETR&D, 50(3), 43-59. Retrieved from

Prezi Inc. (n.d.). Prezi. Retrieved September 2, 2017, from

Weibell, C. J. (2011, June 11). Principles of learning: 7 principles to guide personalized, student-centered learning in the technology-enhanced, blended learning environment. Retrieved August 20, 2017, from

What is a personal learning network? (n.d.). Retrieved August 29, 2017, from Teachthought website:

Wocke, G. (n.d.). PLN @ ICSZ [Prezi]. Retrieved September 2, 2017, from

Yale University. (n.d.). Individual development planning. Retrieved September 2, 2017, from

The Need for Network Literacy

Being connected through networks has always been fundamental to the survival and development of humankind: social networks, learning networks, professional networks, trade networks, and communication networks, being some examples. Also, transmission of knowledge and innovation have always been dependent on networks. The knowledge and skills, or literacy, to operate within, and to use these networks, have been crucial to successful participation in society.

Through digital and communication technology we now have the vast network of computers, that we call the internet, which enables us to create and link knowledge artefacts, and to store and distribute vast amounts of information in digital format – instantaneously. Living successfully in the information era will once again, increasingly, depend on being able to proficiently use digital networks.

McClure (1994) defined network literacy in terms of the ability to identify, access, and use electronic information from the network, emphasizing essential knowledge and skills. He argued network literacy central to being personally and professionally productive and effective (p. 115).

Rheingold agreed with McClure on the importance of network literacy, identifying “network awareness” as one of the five literacies needed in the 21st century. He argued that a basic understanding of networks is vital in our connected world, because the structure and dynamics of networks influences political freedom, economic wealth creation, and participation in the creation of culture (Rheingold, 2010, pp.14-16). “The technical networks amplify and extend the fundamental human capability of forming social networks” (Rheingold, 2010).

Pegrum argued that personal, social and professional networks are all linked together technologically by the internet. To maintain balance between personal identity and social connections, and the civic engagement (locally, nationally and globally) through digital networks, require literacy and skills that cannot just be assumed, but must be acquired. We must teach about and through networks (Pegrum, 2010, pp. 349-350).

Siemens constructed a new learning theory for the networked age, called connectivism. He explained that “the amplification of learning, knowledge and understanding through the extension of a personal network is the epitome of collectivism.” Learning is no longer an internal, individualistic activity; and teaching, in this networked world, means “guiding, directing, and curating the quality of networks learners are forming” (Siemens & Tittenberger 2009, p. 13).

Pegrum saw personal learning networks (PLNs), trusted networks of peers and experts, tools and technologies, resources and materials, as mirrors of networked knowledge and facilitators of networked learning. Network literacy could be enhanced by early exposure to and regular maintenance of PLNs.

Being connected through networks has always been fundamental to the survival and development of humankind. The knowledge and skills, or literacy, to operate within, and to use these networks, have been crucial to successful participation in society. This is as true of the networks of the information age, as it has been of any networked environment.



McClure, C. R. (1994). Network literacy: A role for libraries? Information Technology and Libraries, 13(2), 115-125.

Pegrum, M. (2010). I link, therefore I am’: Network literacy as a core digital literacy. E-Learning and Digital Media, 7(4).

Rheingold, H. (n.d.). Network literacy: Mini-course. Retrieved from

Rheingold, H. (2010). Attention, and other 21st-century social media literacies. EDUCAUSE Review, 45(5), 14-16.

Siemens, G. (2004, December 12). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Retrieved July 27, 2017, from

Siemens, G., & Tittenberger, P. (2009). Handbook of emerging technologies for learning.
Retrieved from

Visitor or Resident in the online world?

In 2001, Prenski helped us make sense of our emerging digital behaviour when he coined the phrase “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants”. With time, our online behaviour has changed so significantly – because of the growth of information networks, online tools and mobile connectivity – that this classification is no longer enough or even completely true.

A decade later David White, in collaboration with JISK and others, came up with a different, and insightful, way of looking at our online behaviour: They argue that our engagement lies on a continuum between being a visitor and a resident to the online world. Visitors, use the internet as a tool with which to fulfil an information task, and do not intentionally leave evidence of their online presence. Residents, see the internet as a place or a space where they choose to spend a part of their lives, creating an intentional social presence and identity (White & Le Corno, 2011). Most of us do at least a bit of both.

In the video, embedded above, White reasons that being a “digital native” is not”a foundation for using the web effectively for study, for critically evaluating digital resources, or even having the capability to formulate and express cogent arguments online. These are examples of learning literacies which don’t come for free online.” This is very important in our understanding of the importance for our students to develop the “new”  literacies (digital, media, information, etc.) for 21st century learning.

White added another continuum – from personal to institutional (or professional) engagement – to this topology, forming a quadrant on which to chart our online interactions.

David White maps personal and institutional online engagement in terms of intentional behaviour as “visitors” or “residents”.

By mapping the online use of different tools one gets a picture of your online behaviour. This can be quite useful for personal reflection, management of your own information behaviour, or in actively developing your personal learning network (PLN). This can also be a valuable activity in helping students visualise their own online behaviour and in aiding the management and development of their digital identities.

What does your online engagement look like? JISK and OCLC Research developed a Digital Visitors and Residents mapping app that you can try.

Here is a representation of my online engagement –  now, in July 2017. I predict that my view of it will change before I complete this unit of study.

I will report back.

A final thought:

The other two short videos in this Jisk Netskills series are also excellent.

Visitors and Residents: Credibility

Visitors and Residents: Open Practice 

I will blog about this is another post.



jisknetskills. (2014, March 10). Visitors and residents [Video file]. Retrieved from

OCLC. (n.d.). Visitors and residents. Retrieved from OCLC Research website:

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. Retrieved from,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

White, D. S., & Le Corno, A. (2011). Visitors and residents: A new topology for online engagement. First Monday, 16(9). Retrieved from







Becoming a Connected Educator

Through modern technology we live in an information rich and connected world, where we have constant and immediate access to information sources, people and their knowledge. Teaching and learning happen in this connected world and should be augmented by this connected information environment.

The connected educator is firstly a connected learner, who brings what she (or he) learns into the classroom (Nussbaum-Beach & Hall, 2012, p.18):

  • She actively manages and directs her personalised learning journey, reflectively planning formal and informal learning experiences to advance her professional and personal interests.
  • She leverages the affordances of technology to manage the flow of interactions with people and information sources through careful curation.
  • She utilises the personal, social and participatory nature of new media formats and tools) to connect and with learning communities, to learn from and with (Lindsay, 2016, p.11). Lucier views this as a continuum of Seven degrees of connectedness on which a learner progresses as a personal learning network (PLN) is actively cultivated and nurtured. Rheingold and Weeks (2012, p.120) similarly refer to Mayfield’s 11 steps of the Power Law of Participation.
  • She deliberately manages and develops her online presence, identity and footprint.

The connected educator understands that education is about learning – not teaching, and that while learning can be linear and solitary, it is also social and collaborative – especially in the connected world. She models and practices connected, lifelong learning. The connected educator crafts authentic learning experiences by utilising her network to open the walls of her classroom, by sharing relevant learning resources, and by facilitating connection-making (Richardson & Mancabelli, 2011, p.61-62). By demonstrating the importance of being a connected learner she encourages her students to develop their own PLNs. She encourages connected learning to happen inside and outside the classroom, through participation and interactions: by facilitating user-generated content, peer-critique, collective aggregation and community formation by her students (Conole, 2010, pp. 50-51.)

She understands that good digital citizenship requires responsible, active participation (Ohler, 2010, p.34). She assists students in developing the literacies and competencies they need for full participation in these new environments.

This educator is developing as a connected learner and hopefully as a connected educator. There are tentative attempts at cooperation, which will hopefully lead to bold collaboration. I have moved beyond lurking and have started to actively engage and contribute, but more importantly: I have become convinced that by participating, I will develop further on the path to being an exemplary connected educator from and with whom my colleagues and students will learn.



Conole, G. (2013). Designing for learning in an open world. New York, NY: Springer New York.

Lindsay, J. (2016). The global educator: Leveraging technology for collaborative learning & teaching. International Society of Technology in Education.

Lucier, R. (2012, June 5). Seven degrees of connectedness [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Mayfield, R. (2006, April 27). Power law of participation [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Nussbaum-Beach, S. (2012, January 13). Why be a connected educator? [Video file]. Retrieved from

Nussbaum-Beach, S., & Hall, L. R. (2012). The connected educator: Learning and leading in a digital age. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Ohler, J. B. (2010). Digital community, digital citizen. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin Press.

Rheingold, H., & Weeks, A. (2014). Net smart: How to thrive online. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Richardson, W., & Mancabelli, R. (2011). Personal learning networks: Using the power of connections to transform education. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Tolisano, S. (2012, June 7). Seven degrees of connectedness (The infographic) [Blog post]. Retrieved from


Adapting to “a new culture of learning”

Thomas and Brown rightly states that 20th century teacher-centred and classroom-based learning environments do not adequately facilitate 21st century learning.

In the relative stability of the 20th century, education slowly and orderly adapted to changes in society and information was relatively scarce. This has been replaced by an environment characterised by constant connectivity to an expanding networked infrastructure; seamless access to ubiquitous information and new social and participatory media formats. These profound changes were brought about by converging developments in information and communication technologies (ICTs). An information society, characterised by accelerated continual change evolved. In the information society learning is no longer only formal, static and discrete, but also informal, continuous and fluid – not bound to teaching or classroom.

The fundamental shifts necessary for the world of education to adapt to the needs of the information society (and stay relevant) includes a change from teaching-based (passive) education to learning-based education:

  • with the emphasis no longer on teaching about the world, but learning through interacting with the world;
  • learning no longer viewed as an individual activity, but as social – happening in collectives, or communities of shared interest, and through peer-to-peer collaboration;
  • education does not react to change, but embraces change;
  • students do not prove successful information transfer, but ask questions and embrace what they do not know;
  • students do not learn from teachers (in classrooms only), but teachers act as mentors while students learn from the network of information sources that is the information society.

Thomas and Brown proposes “a new culture of learning” that cultivates learning in the 21st century information society. This type of learning requires unlimited access to a network of resources, as well as a structured environment that allows for unlimited agency to question, build and experiment within the boundaries of this environment (Thomas and Brown, 2011, p.19). Much like in the case of “games” and their “rules”, passion and imagination are harnessed to work within the constraints posed by the boundaries of the learning environments. They see play, questioning and the cultivation of imagination as the bedrocks of their “new culture of learning” (p.20), rather than the traditional educational metrics of efficiency, outcomes and answers (p. 118).

Thomas and Brown are not alone in their fundamental understanding of the shifts that are needed in education, see for example this blog post and this essay about the Connected learning movement, which proposes a different, but fundamentally related model for the reformation of education.

How does Thomas and Brown’s new culture of learning reflect my own experiences as an educator and learner in the past two or three years?

As an adult learner, my experience of 21st century learning is similar to this “new culture of learning”. I am convinced that learning has broken through the walls of formal, classroom education for ever. As learners, we are in control of our own self-directed learning. Learning is social and active and ongoing. Learning does not only happen out of textbooks or from a teacher. Experts and specialists as well as communities of interests, peers, social communities and various new forms of information production are all valuable sources of information and catalysts for learning.

As an educator in a school, I fully agree that learning should be learner-directed and –centred and not be bound to content, classroom and teacher. I am also convinced that younger learners need carefully constructed environments in which to learn. I am unsure of how they can safely and responsibly benefit from external collectives and communities of interest. I believe our students need much guidance in developing digital and information literacies and in traversing the information networks.

I have seen significant movement towards collaboration and peer-based learning in our school, but the general experience is still very different from “a new culture of learning”subject-based and result-oriented teaching is still very prevalent as we are primarily focused on preparing students to produce grades that will ensure entry into tertiary educational institutions.

The transformation of traditional education has begun, much remains to be done.



TEDX Talks. (2012, September 12). A new culture of learning, Douglas Thomas at TEDxUFM [Video file]. Retrieved from

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, KY: CreateSpace.

New models of information production – characteristics and challenges

The Internet can be viewed as an open, digital network of globally connected users and computerised devices that provides a dynamic platform for the creation, storage, dissemination and consumption of information and knowledge.

The digital nature of the internet allows for the creation, storage and dissemination of content (irrespective of format – text, sound, image, hyperlinks) through any of the networked computers that make up the internet. The digital nature makes it easy to be replicated, manipulated, changed, stored and transmitted with accuracy and speed. Digital representation of data and information is freed from temporal and spatial constraints, enabling new models of information production that are interactive, easily and immediately accessed, shared and distributed.

The open nature of the internet supports the creation of new models of information production in a number of ways: The open architecture provides global penetration and access across physical and national boundaries. The fact that the internet is open and decentralised – not hierarchical – allows it to evolve and grow in creative, innovative and unrestricted ways. The open accessibility of the internet – not controlled or owned – encourages free and open expression and participation; gives a voice, encourages civic participation, connects and empowers. See Table 1 for a more detailed presentation, by West (2016), of internet openness.

Elements of Internet Openness (according to West, 2016)

It is the digital and open characteristics of the internet that allowed the development of the World Wide Web (WWW) through hyperlinks and hypertext. The creation – and open sharing – of the WWW provided the stepping stone needed for the development of a plethora of (Web 2.0) tools and applications, which in turn gave rise to open, social and participatory media that enabled the development of new models of information production (Conole, 2013, pp. 50-51).

De Saulles (2012, p. 13) identifies the mass adoption of computing devices for professional and personal applications, and the rise of the internet as distribution platform, as the main reasons for the increased rate that information is being created and consumed, as well as for the rise of new models of information production. He states that although new evolutionary models (such as blogs and podcasts) are similar to traditional formats (such as newspapers and radio broadcasts), they make use of the characteristics of the internet to be more social, participatory and accessible on demand. Revolutionary models – such as search engines (e.g. Google) and social media platforms (e.g. Facebook) – are revolutionary and only possible because of the internet’s unique characteristics. See his slideshow below for his view in more detail:


The challenges (to educators, information professionals and other users) associated with the new models of information presentation are archetypal of the changed information environments, as identified by Bawden and Robinson (2009, pp.182-186): Information is no longer scarce, but in oversupply; the “paradox of choice” is aggravated by the increasing diversity of information (in terms of format, complexity and varying perspectives). The open, social and participatory nature of Web 2.0 tools – and new models of information production – bring with it issues concerning quality control (no editorial or peer-reviewed processes); loss of identity and authority, subjectivity, de-contextualised information and impermanence of information (Bawden and Robinson, 2009, p.186).

The new models of information productions enable creative ways to produce and share information, but are changing our information behaviour. As educators and information professionals we need to understand this behaviour better, if we are going to effectively employ these models in facilitating and supporting 21st century learning.



Bawden, D., & Robinson, L. (2009). The dark side of information: Overload, anxiety and other paradoxes and pathologies. The Journal of Information Science, 35(2), 180-191.

Conole, G. (2013). Designing for learning in an open world. New York, NY: Springer New York.

De Saulles, M. (2012). New models of information production. In Information 2.0: New models of information production, distribution and consumption (pp. 13-35). Retrieved from

West, J. (2016, May). Global Commission on Internet Governance Paper Series: Vol. 35. A framework for understanding internet openness. Retrieved from


INF532: Knowledge Networking for Educators

The posts from July 2017 to October 2017 will be directly relevant to the study programme of INF532: Knowledge Networking for Educators, part of my Master’s of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovations) studies. It continues, and builds on, INF 530: Concepts and Practices in a Digital Age.

Knowledge Networking, according to the subject guide, is “an active and complementary partnership of online tools, information access, information distribution and pedagogic practices, which are underpinned by social, ubiquitous, blended and personalized learning.”

I am looking forward to becoming a more active producer and collaborator, rather than a consumer and lurker. This module seems to demand this, so: “Game on!”