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#Rhizo15 Knowledge is Communication

4 min read

Sternberg, one of my fav theorists on human intelligence  defines wisdom as, "the application of the analytical, creative, and practical aspects of successful intelligence for a common good, over the long as well as the short terms, through the infusion of positive values."

Wisdom in many ways is a collective. A tool communities can access but never really grasp. I have been thinking about Sternberg's definition of wisdom often in these last few days. Especially in terms of online spaces such as where we have been gathering to learn. How does this "application" and "common good" play out online?

I realized wisdom is curated and knowledge is communicated.

Strong 21st Century Communications Magnet and SCSU Lab School

Which brings me to the Strong 21st Century Communication Magnet School in New Haven, CT.  The staff invited me in to do a presentation on communication.

We had a great time. We focused on participatory culture, looked at examples of , and then practiced how to with x-ray goggles.

I usually dread these one hour PD sessions after a brief staff meeting. The real learning gets squished and the managerial details rushed, but today was different. The entire staff sat engaged and ready to learn. When the teachers got to play with the tools we discussed everyone jumped right in. They challenged my claims and demanded evidence.

Many were staying late into the night to collaborate with parents to advocate for a new school. They encouraged students to get involved in the democratic process by writing letters to the local Alders.

Most importantly as a group the teachers seemed committed to the mission and vision of the Strong School (I did explain my aversion to "21st Century"). We had so much fun. It was fitting that I got to present in their discovery classroom. A room built for design thinking.

Knowledge is Communication

I drew on the work Henry Jenkins and his team did  around  new skills for participatory culture:

Here is the slidedeck. While I did not get a chance to record the session I do have a YouTube video with really choppy audio. I was happier with today's talk as we really dug into what it means to communicate knowledge (headless slidedecks are always bad video but thats a talk for another time).

Examples of

I wanted to share some of the online classes I have helped to shape. We discussed and . Each of these courses built on the Wisdom that has been curated from other classes such as , , , and . I wanted to communicate and share the knowledge that I shared in both projects (1, 2).

I believe we can do this in K-12 education. We have done it two years in a row with . There is something unique in having these local nodes sharing knowledge and forking the wisdom of the collective.

We concluded the talk by highlighting Web Literacy as the primary mode of communication in a Networked Society. I shared the efforts of the Mozilla Learning and encouraged teachers to consider a Mozilla Web Club at the Strong School.

Then we hacked the news. Teachers love x-ray goggles. It gets them making in  minutes and the pedagogical possibilities are only limited by the wisdom of their collective.

In order to curate wisdom we need to engage in participatory culture. This requires us to to communicate knowledge. All require students to read, write, and participate on the Web.


Content Counts and Counting Content #rhizo15

3 min read

I haven't had much time to for lines of flight this week. I wanted to incorporate so many of the great conversations around so I just want to quickly share some of my thoughts.

I will explore this more later but wanted to get some pre-writing done in the open.

What is Content?

Content is stuff. It means to contain.

What is Content Knowledge?

Content Knowledge to me is information th reified into the discourses of specific communities. It involves power signifying what information matters over other information.

I see this most frequently in "content area reading" or "content reading strategies" or in "content and pedagogical knowledge." Basically it is the idea that there are certain bits of knowledge students need to know.

I am okay with this. I also think that this is dependent on the domain. As Rand Spiro in his cognitive flexibility theory, well defined domains such as science and math can rely on set "content" and more direct instruction.

The times tables are content knowledge. Someone decided its important for kids to know. They are right.

In terms of your fuzzier content areas such as the humanities its starts to get fuzzy. The atomic weight of an atom is a constant. The same can't be held true for theories of reading or literature response. Messiness is the only constant.

Sam Dyson, in a post on unlearning, I think brought up the idea of preconception and misconceptiion on a path to deeper learning. I am not a fan of "unlearning," but I need more time to dive into the literature.

The learner can elevate information to content if given the chance.

Are People and Community Content?

Yes. If you are specific in your pedagogical choices you can make people the content if connections is something you want them to take away.

This was a major goal in . We stated at the beginning that community was our content, but we were exploring identity not Bohr's law.

There was room to play with content.

Content Area Reading is it Worth It?

No. While a set of general comprehension strategies skills are helpful, especially when working with students with great cognitivie diversity, the gains over time are minimal.

Content=Comprehension. I can think of no situation in reading where knowing less would make one a better reader than knowing more. 

Instead of generalized strategies we need to focus on the ways and being within specific disciplines. We need to focus on how meaning is signified within these very specific discourses.


A comment left to @cogdog on content in and

As someone who participated in . I thought I would throw in my comments. I got a lot out of but completed very little of the pre-ordained content. Which is a shame because I wish I had the capacity to have dove into the the work around audio and video storytelling.

As a result of now have many more blogs I update and created a portfolio for an edtech award (which I lost because the reviewers felt I didn’t put any effort in my application since I didn’t have binders full of tech). I did little of the assigned content. Like every MOOC I do I quit early after taking what I need.

Maybe content as people is the wrong metaphor. Maybe its community. If we define community as the people and activity they create together. Communities take leaders and your “trigger events” helped to organize different pathways.

Maybe its content as pathways. I poach the idea of multiple landscapes of knowledge from Wittgenstein all the time. Your trigger is the starting gate but where we go from there is up to us.

I do wonder if these more open pathways only work when the content is what Rand Spiro calls ill-defined domains. I love the post-modern theories but then I always get back to the hard sciences and math.

I do think we can create pathways that allow folks to gravitate to well-defined domains of knowledge that may require less off-roading.


@fncll @nomadwarmachine @davecormier @autumm Your Book is full of #Rhizo15 Ghosts

2 min read