“Connectivism” Interesting, Not Sure It’s a Learning Theory suggests that learning is a verb, not a noun. The author feels that clarity of terms is important (knowledge and learning in particular). I agree. Information is the “raw” concept that is personalized (or processed) to create knowledge. Knowledge is translated to learning when we actually do something. Knowledge that doesn’t lead to a change in thought and action has limited value. Perhaps this is why corporate trainers are drawn to Kirkpatrick’s four levels of training effectiveness – the highest level focuses on results.
Marcy Driscoll defines learning as a “persisting change in performance or performance potential”. I don’t know how accurate that is in the context of what we need to do today. Perhaps we need to rethink the term “learning”. So much of what I need to do today, I don’t possess within myself at the point of need (I find many of my answers via other bloggers, Google, communities, my own personal digital knowledge base, etc.). For me, a change in performance potential is often only temporary – the core conditions change. What is needed is a change in performance right now. This fits with the definition of “learning as actionable knowledge” – i.e. I find it when I need it. Am I missing something?
Learning (in today’s era) isn’t something that we necessarily possess. A few generations ago, fixing a tractor required knowing how to fix a tractor. Today, most of our challenges aren’t physical in nature – they are knowledge based. This requires core skills of the field, augmented with knowing where to go to get the information needed for the task. Things are too complex. Effective workers (especially knowledge workers) need to create a personal network that enables access to answers when needed. Knowing how to do something now requires knowing where to go in order to do something. Learning isn’t always possessed at the time of need.
How does the concept that learning is actuated knowledge relate to the notion that learning can reside in non-human appliances? In a connectivist sense, if knowledge can be used to “do something”, then it can be classified as learning. I don’t have to possess personal mastery in order to benefit from it. If I use a software tool, and I need help, I can use the in-program help. Knowing how to use the help tool requires that I don’t have to know the contents of the help file. When I need assistance, I simply go to where I know I’ll most likely receive my answers. Repetition of the same challenges may result in learning committed to memory…but knowing where to go is the real learning challenge. Learning in this manner can reside in objects in the sense that they (”the answer”) are used for application.