Thursday, November 5, 2009

Watching the Hierarchy Disintegrate

George Siemens recently wrote a very thought-provoking piece called Struggling for a Metaphor for Change. I haves sampled from one portion of it where he lists "broad trends influencing our relationship to knowledge":

An expectancy of relevance and currency of knowledge, for a cycle of years and decades, has now been reduced to months and years for many disciplines. A picture released by an observer in a disaster zone (war, hurricane, earthquake) is worth many times more than the commentary of an expert. Knowledge can be woven, connected, and recombined in limitless ways…creating the possibility of personalized networks of knowledge. We have moved from hierarchical to network. It is end user driven.

What does this mean for us "teachers"? Well, obviously our usefulness has diminished as dispensers of information. The sooner we begin to see ourselves as network enablers or personal learning enhancers, the better. We also need to recognize that the formal lines that have structured the life of the classroom are fading. Academic "departments" make less sense. How relevant are the school schedules and school buildings themselves? I sometimes wonder if educators have become so consumed with activities only indirectly connected to learning that they have taken their eyes off the ball. Many schools are trying to wall off the students from social media and filter internet access in the most extreme ways. One way of looking at this is the old regime trying to maintain its hold on power (knowledge). And you know, the farther up the hierarchy you go in many instances, the less aware they often are about what happening down here on the ground.

"Grass Network" Flickr Creative Commons photo by cperaza_ca

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