“Standing on the shoulders of giants” (Bernard of Chartres)

What is my perspective on the notion of a ‘fluid’ epistemology as proposed by Dede – that is, that knowledge is collectively negotiated and ratified as opposed to being ‘given’?

We stand on the shoulders of giants. We learn the facts from others’ verified work, explore beyond them, and then enter the next evolution of knowledge that is discussed and certified collaboratively. Dede possibly describes the same sequence when he writes about the combination of facts with particularly human notions of “opinions, values, and spiritual beliefs” (A Seismic Shift in Epistemology). Facts are already established entities of knowledge, and then we configure them into our realm of knowing, our daily lives and experiences.

Take the following as an example.

In the real world, the likes of Fibonnacci, Newton, or any other prominent mathematician or scientist make significant discoveries. Part of their intellectual endeavors include the crafting and sharing of their ideas through letters, journals, and speeches. Or, in our day in age, the Internet plays a larger role in the creation of knowledge, as seen in the connected student video. Before reaching the point of broadcasting a finished product, many would often collaborate to advance the work or have it verified by peers. Knowledge is collectively negotiated and ratified. Work at the novice, student level is different in the scope of significant breakthroughs. The process of learning may not need, however, to be any different. Practice like you play, right? To prepare students to contribute to their world, they need to engage in these types of intellectual, relational structures. There is a place for didactic instruction, but it neither needs to consume the whole educational experience nor take up more of the curriculum than necessary.

How does connectivism relate to the epistemological shift described by Dede?

Germane to connectivism is context. Social and cultural influences are the greatest factors leading to learning. What connectivism is not is the learning of knowledge outside the realm of personal relevance. Dede describes an epistemological shift in knowledge construction due to Web 2.0 tools. He posits that “the Web 2.0 definition of ‘knowledge’ is collective agreement about a description that may combine facts with other dimensions of human experience, such as opinions, values, and spiritual beliefs” (A Seismic Shift in Epistemology). The relationship between connectivism and what Dede describes in his article is the social impact on knowledge construction. Interaction among interested parties creates and confirms collective truth.

5 thoughts on ““Standing on the shoulders of giants” (Bernard of Chartres)

  1. Cheryl Burris

    Thank you for taking the moment to help me understand. Given this expansion, I agree with the idea that those for and against a topic can weigh in for a discussion of the topic. Through the challenge, discussion, and debate, knowledge can be created, confirmed, or changed. Your point of context is an important one that is often overlooked or dismissed.

  2. Justin Montgomery Post author

    @cab534 @his105 Thank you for taking into question something in my post, which allows me to get the most out of my blogging experience in this class. Objective contribution should always be the aim of any true seeker of knowledge. Alas, we are human, and opinions, biases, and beliefs factor into what we call “truth”. By interested parties, I like the idea that any individual who is for or against can weigh in on the topic. Otherwise, as you guys stated, bias would taint the truth and no longer make it real, irrefutable knowledge.

    @jaf378 I appreciate your encouraging compliments about my post!

  3. Cheryl Burris

    As others have stated, you have a well written piece that is thought provoking. As with Hannah, I too am challenged by your statement, “Interaction among interested parties creates and confirms collectives truths.” For me, my question is, “What is your meaning of the word ‘interested’?” As it reads, it would appear to be only those of similar mindset. Is that your intention?

  4. Hannah Inzko

    I too enjoyed reading your entry, as you bring up several great points. I would however argue with the last part of the post.

    “Interaction among interested parties creates and confirms collective truth.”

    Wouldn’t the addition of differing ideas and various perspectives only help confirm a collective truth? When you have a group that all agree on a particular subject I would think it would be easier to show real bias. When you introduce some healthy skepticism, it provides an opportunity to view things more objectively.

  5. jaf378

    This is incredibly well written and insightful, Justin. I completely agree with your discussion on our knowledge creation and you provide an excellent example through Fibonacci. All knowledge should be made relateable to the learner. Providing context that is applicable to the learner’s own experience provides depth and meaning to individual knowledge. And I really liked your last sentence: “Interaction among interested parties creates and confirms collective truth.” Knowledge is formed and confirmed collectively, and web 2.0 tools are making this process more accessible and meaningful to everyone.

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