#PLENK2010 Information Overload can be Tamed by Collaboration: and PLEs are One Example

Thanks to Rita for this summary!   She brings up the concern that the over-abundance of information leads to a dearth in analysis.   My position is that the limits of our individual cognitive abilities is being replaced by collaboration with committed and passionate others and PLEs are one example where this is happening.

First, you’ve drawn my “attention” to the concept of information consumption.  It’s a great idea: respond to over-abundance by changing consumption.  Indeed, not only abundance, but also the decreasing half-life of knowledge (another concept I got from Hagel) is changing the way we consume information.  This is also where the idea comes in that we are leaving “content” as the primary focus of education.  Traditionally education focused on content, even though it was widely recognized that you forgot a lot of content very quickly.  This never made sense to me, but it is becoming less and less palatable now.  What we need is the ability to find and make use of content, not to memorize it.  I believe no one should be required to memorize anything they can google and then use in an intellectually mature fashion.

First, I would like to make a distinction between students in educational institutions and those outside the “walls”, who are learning in the wild so to speak.  I think the place of ed institutions is to cultivate mature thinkers.  Some level of basic content memorization may be needed, but beyond that we want to quickly change the focus to measuring the ability to find and use knowledge.  Once people begin to work in the wild, beyond ed institutions, the approach to learning takes on an everyday problem centered focus.  What you need then is something like this:

  1. A mature intellectual mindset for how to approach your problem.
  2. The ability to find and synthesize relevant information.*
  3. The ability to tap into (Hagel’s) knowledge flows.

I think #1. is the province of formal education, what we should expect of Higher Ed graduates.  #2 is primarily technology enabled, even though the synthesis part may entail much hard work.  #3 is the province of PLEs, something that is highly social as I stated here.  PLEs are technologically enabled, but it’s the network that’s important, not the tools.  I would argue (along the lines of Hagel, Brown and Davison) that the quality of your Network (mostly as measured by commitment and passion) is the most important determinate of success in whatever your endeavor.

*Thanks to Christopher for his idea

2 thoughts on “#PLENK2010 Information Overload can be Tamed by Collaboration: and PLEs are One Example

  1. Hi

    Thanks for your post. I think you are spot on with your three points. My concern is that not all people have the intellectual maturity or confidence and critical literacies that is required for these. This makes that we might still need educational istitutions for a while …

  2. I agree, in fact, I think we need institutional support for PLEs and any other form that lifelong learning takes. It just might be different forms than what we see now.

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