First of all, I want to say that for me knowledge and learning are two different things.
Learning is the process, knowledge is the outcome.
You learn to swim or read throughout repetition. Afterwards you can’t say: I’ve gained knowledge on swimming or reading. Knowing to do. Therefore I find learning an individual process, that does not lead to knowledge, but rather to a skill you use from then on in everyday life.
Also we have learning that is not based on books, but on life. We learn from each other and we learn because we coexist with one and other. We learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of others. Knowing to be.
But there is also learning that leads to knowledge. If you study medicine you gain knowledge and from there one you can do research and create or modify (public) knowledge.
I don’t totally agree with Bereiter and Scaramalia when they say that One of the hallmarks of knowledge building is a sense of we superseding the sense of I, a feeling that the group is operating collectively and not just as an assemblage of individuals.
I believe that in the process of knowledge building the individual contributes to a collective outcome. It is the fact that each and every one of us is an individuals that makes co-working efficient. We all have an unique intelligence. By combining our different strengths we build knowledge.
The minor visual knowledge building is the perfect example on how people deal with the process of knowledge building. We know how to read, write, communicate, do research. So how do we gain knowledge? We use the skills we have. We filter and structure information in order to create knowledge and from there on we create our own vision on knowledge building. We decode the input based on information which is valuable and which fits into our framework. Throughout assimilation and accommodation we construct meaning as the Constructivism theory tells us, which I very much agree with.
Everyone perceives knowledge differently because learning is influenced by our learning environment. We naturally adjust information because our lives, our interest, our personalities and the context keeps on changing.
The categories of human thought are never fixed in any one definite form; they are made, unmade and remade incessantly; they change with places and times." Emile Durkheim
Both learning and knowledge are ongoing processes, as George Siemens mentions in his Connectivism theory. That’s why we never stop learning.
I’ve been talking about knowledge building but visual knowledge building is what we are dealing with at this moment.
Technology has changed the process of knowledge building, because the speed of life has changed. We have access to a lot of information (sometimes way too much and a lot of it is pretty irrelevant) whether we like it or not. Prensky is talking about the digital natives and how they need to gain knowledge in a different way than the digital emigrants used to.
Natives are used to visuals, they can not live without. Their ability to select essential information is influenced by visuals and in order to teach them and stimulate them into participating we need to find visual ways to actually get through to them.
So in order to teach a knowledge building community which in many cases it’s a class full of students the teachers need to understand their students want to learn but need to be visually stimulated, in order to do so.
Blended learning may be the outcome. Somehow students need to feel that the new technology they use in their daily lives is taken serious by the teachers. But still there is a line you need to draw, students must be able to concentrate in class, otherwise we feed them with too much freedom.
Seymour Papert came up with a new term: Constructionism -> Constructivism theory + Co-design + E-tools. I find this one of the best solutions. You construct, and collaborate with others with the help of the new digital technology, while learning from your mistakes or the mistakes of others.
In my opinion visuals are tools that help build knowledge. Visuals are like the skills you learn in order to build knowledge. You can not ignore visuals, they are part of everyday life. Like the signs we all know, recognize and understand because they are a part of our visual culture. We can do so much with visuals but without a context they mean nothing to us. So there has to be a context in order to communicate.
Where is VKB heading to? Well I believe the future of VKB is already here, but we are not fully aware of it because it has integrated in our lives without us really noticing it. That says a lot about us and the visual knowledge world around us.