Knowledge, searching and understanding – a starting point.

It is interesting pondering the future work skills 2020 image in our module 1.3 ( and comparing it to the book Too Big to Know by David Weinberger where the contention seems to be that the digital world is without structure and something of which it is almost impossible to make sense. (I haven’t finished the book yet, but this is my summation at this point).

To what extent is there no structure, or is it that the organisation is too big to recognise? Is all knowledge considered equal, or do most people acknowledge that some people are in a more informed position to pass comment than others?

Does computer processing power and speed equal improved understanding and lead to increased knowledge?


Does the number of Google searches bear some relevance to an increase in the total data base of human knowledge? Does the Knowledge Graph actually improve knowledge access or growth or is it just an attractive interface? Do the many random, poorly thought out  and casual searches each day impact on the serious academic type content sought  by the minority?

While sites like educate students to search more effectively it is crucial to question how many students are exposed to such sites, and what proportion of teachers actually teach such skills. This is more important than the digital native vs immigrant debate. If those with experience and understanding of quality of result are not part of the conversation then all student learning is compromised.

Teachers need to inhabit the same spaces and model their use. They need to incorporate these things into their subject area all the time, not just as one off, special activities. This is the digital divide that really concerns me.

5 thoughts on “Knowledge, searching and understanding – a starting point.

  1. Matt Leach

    It’s a concern I have too. Our school systems are still too concerned with keeping the traditional structure which forces teachers to feel they need to do the same.
    I really like what Quest to Learn ( is doing. The structure is so intentionally different. Even their assignments are called quests and the students are required to level up before they can attempt the next one. This not only engages the students but really engages the teachers and forces them to not be the ‘sage on the stage’ but an active participant.


    1. msimkin

      Hi Matt, thanks for the link. I hadn’t seen it before but I will see it again!
      It’s a wonderful lesson when all participants leave the room having learned something from each other. I learn so much from some of my students.


  2. Judy O'Connelk

    This is such a critical reflection – it completely makes my head throb! If all the reading and thinking in the subject content seems BIG then I’m excited that it has done its job as you question how we find information and what we do to support students. Your last two paragraphs are gold! I don’t know the answers but it excites me when people ask these questions because it means that you will have an influence on others in a more significant way as a result! Good on you!


    1. msimkin

      Thanks Heather. These musings are the reason I have enrolled in this course! I aim to finish better off myself, but also with a few converts within my school! (I am a very optimistic person).


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