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.