Thinking Space - John Seely Brown


Straight From The Source


Notes & Questions

Tinkering as a Mode of Knowledge Production

  • Have to foster the imagination first
  • Create - Reflect - Share
    • Sharing - Create Peer Based Learning
  • Studio Learning Environment
    • Multi age learning community
    • Best way to learn something is to teach it - Students teach each other
    • Critique - Need to be open to criticism (from self, peers, and others)
    • Work in progress is public
    • Critiques are public
  • Tinkering
    • with Information
    • with Knowledge
    • with concrete things
    • Networked Tinkering with other people's stuff
    • You have to test what you build
      • authority comes from testing what you build and whether it works and is as good as it could be
    • Allows us to bootstrap our own knowledge
    • Maybe - kids identities will come from what they have created AND others have built on
  • Technology
    • enables us to build distributed communities of practice
    • allow you to create and to remix

A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change

by Douglas Thomas, John Seely Brown

  • Chapter 1 ARC-OF-LIFE LEARNING
    • Sam’s Story
    • Teaching in a Galaxy Far, Far Away
    • Googling the Error
    • Gaming Across Generations
    • Click Here to Start Learning
    • The Moral of the Stories
  • Chapter 2 A TALE OF TWO CULTURES
    • A Mechanistic View
    • Learning Environments
      • "Here, boundaries serve not only as constraints but also, oftentimes, as catalysts for innovation. Encountering boundaries spurs the imagination to become more active in figuring out novel solutions within the constraints of the situation or context." (location 338)
    • A Special Type of Culture
    • The New Culture of Learning
  • Chapter 3 EMBRACING CHANGE
    • Education
      • "Many educators, for example, consider the principle underlying the adage, 'Give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime,' to represent the height of educational practice today. Yet it is hardly cutting edge. It assumes that there will always be an endless supply of fish to catch and that the techniques for catching them will last a lifetime." (location 403)
    • Technology
    • Learning to Embrace Change
      • "We can no longer count on being taught or trained to handle each new change in our tools, the media, or the ways we communicate on a case-by-case basis." (location 465)
    • Making Change Visible
      • Wikipedia "... requires a new kind of reading practice, an ability to evaluate a contested piece of knowledge and decide for yourself how you want to interpret it." (location 542)
    • Learning Through Play and Imagination
      • "The challenge is to find a way to marry structure and freedom to create something altogether new." (location 575)
  • Chapter 4 LEARNING IN THE COLLECTIVE
    • Peer-to-Peer Learning
    • The Emergence of the Collective
      • "In communities, people learn in order to belong. In a collective, people belong in order to learn. Communities derive their strength from creating a sense of belonging, while collectives derive theirs from participation." (location 622)
      • "Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and feed him as long as the fish supply holds out. But create a collective, and every man will learn how to feed himself for a lifetime." (location 629)
    • Learning in the Collective
      • "Blogs are a medium for learning, but they do not teach. Rather, they generate the space for a collective to emerge." (location 647) " ... the organic communities that emerge through collectives produce meaningful learning because the inquiry that arises comes from the collective itself." (location 650)
  • Chapter 5 THE PERSONAL WITH THE COLLECTIVE
      • "The personal is the basis for an individual’s notions of who she is (identity) and what she can do (agency)." (location 675) "We shape and define the boundaries of our agency and identity within the collective." (location 676)
      • "Collectives, unlike the larger notion of the public, are both contextual and situated, particularly with regard to engaging in specific actions." (location 681)
    • The New Collective
    • Seeing in the Dark
    • Collectives and Education
      • "Students struggle to complete the exercise and teachers struggle to grade it. Why? Because our models of how a classroom works have no way of understanding, measuring, or evaluating collectives. Even worse, they have no means of understanding how notions of the personal may engage students." (location 770)
      • "What goes unrecognized is the fact that when groups work well, the result is usually a product of more than the sum of individual achievements." (location 773)
    • The Birth of the Blog
      • "At their best, blogs give an individual the chance to interact with and become part of a collective that both shapes and is shaped by his or her thoughts. Blogs, by their very nature, are tentative works in progress." (location 808)
    • Why He Blogs
      • "... the blogosphere, at its best, a conversation, rather than a production.” quoting Andrew Sullivan (location 821)
      • Authorship and authority are changing with digital tools - becoming decentralized
      • "In blogging, authorship is transformed in a way that recognizes the participation of others as fundamental to the process." (location 834)
    • Taking the Easy Way Out
      • "These emerging new media platforms bring to the table two groundbreaking elements. The first is that they provide a means for truly harnessing the collective. Through the new media, the collective serves not only as a kind of resource for learning but also as a kind of amplifier: It intensifies and heightens the process of learning by continuously relating it back to the personal. The second is that digital media is based on an infrastructure that is designed to scale." (locations 856-859)
      • "Here, people are not just learning from one another, they are learning with one another." (location 862)
    • Concerted Cultivation
      • "Expertise and authority are dispersed rather than centralized, ..." (location 926)
      • "We don’t mean to suggest that every interaction with the new media creates a learning environment. Rather, we suggest that each collective has the potential to make learning fun and easy and to allow people to follow their desires and passions in productive and fruitful ways." (location 945)
    • Collectives in the Arc of Life
  • Chapter 6 WE KNOW MORE THAN WE CAN SAY
    • "Michael Polanyi, a scientist turned philosopher, wrote a great deal about the concepts of knowledge and knowing. In a short book called The Tacit Dimension, he begins with a very simple premise: “We know more than we can tell.” What he describes is the tacit dimension of knowledge, which is the component of knowing that is assumed, unsaid, and understood as a product of experience and interaction ..." (locations 966-972)
    • Tacit Learning
      • " The twenty-first century, however, belongs to the tacit. In the digital world, we learn by doing, watching, and experiencing." (locations 1002-1003)
    • From Teaching to Learning
      • "Much of what we understand about knowledge is filtered through the idea of education. Explicit knowledge, as we have seen, lends itself well to the process of teaching—that is, transferring knowledge from one person to another. You teach and I learn. But tacit knowledge, which grows through personal experience and experimentation, is not transferrable—you can’t teach it to me, though I can still learn it. The reason for the difference is that learning tacit knowledge happens not only in the brain, but also in the body, through all our senses. It is an experiential process as well as a cognitive one. It is not about being taught knowledge; it is about absorbing it." (locations 1012-1016).
      • "Measuring one’s level of tacit knowledge, however, is a challenge. Traditionally, every new model of learning has had to specify how much knowledge actually transfers from teacher to student—the more the better being the goal. But the transfer model simply doesn’t work for tacit knowledge. A student cannot ask his teacher to “give me your experience” or “tell me what it feels like to solve a problem” or “show me how to innovate.” We learn those things by watching, doing, experimenting, and simply absorbing knowledge from the things, events, and activities around us." (location 1037)
    • Inquiry
      • "Conventional wisdom holds that different people learn in different ways. Something is missing from that idea, however, so we offer a corollary: Different people, when presented with exactly the same information in exactly the same way, will learn different things." (location 1045)
    • Questions and Answers
      • "... our educational system is built upon a structure that poses questions in order to find answers." (location 1087)
      • "What if, for example, questions were more important than answers? What if the key to learning were not the application of techniques but their invention? What if students were asking questions about things that really mattered to them?" (location 1091)
        • Related quote - "My mother made made me a scientist without ever intending it. Every other Jewish mother in Brooklyn would ask her child after school, “So? Did you learn anything today?” But not my mother. She always asked me a different question. “Izzy,” she would say, “did you ask a good question today?” That difference - asking a good question - made me become a scientist. Isidor Isaac Rabi
        • Are "good" scientists the ones who end up with more unanswered questions while answering a question?
      • "Every answer serves as a starting point, not an end point." (location 1095)
    • Learning as Inquiry
      • "Inquiry is an extremely powerful technique for learning because it produces stockpiles of experiences. Things that result in dead ends for one particular question may wind up being unexpectedly useful later on—even, perhaps, for a completely different question. The process forces us to explore the various ways in which information that we already possess can open up new sets of questions. Asking questions is not an act of demonstrating whether knowledge has been transferred. It is, instead, an act of imagination." (location 1117)
      • "Inquiry is the process by which we ask not “What is it that we know?” but “What are the things that we don’t know and what questions can we ask about them?” (location 1122)
      • "... the norms and rules of the space dictate the boundaries of what can and should be the subject of inquiry." (locations 1125)
      • "... the process of inquiry results in useful information regardless of the outcome." (location 1135)
    • Indwelling
      • "Indwelling is a familiarity with ideas, practices, and processes that are so engrained they become second nature." (location 1143)
      • "It is the set of experiences from which we are able to develop our hunches and sense of intuition." (location 1148)
      • "With just a small shift, from answering questions to asking them, inquiry emerges as a tool for harnessing not only the passion of students but also the stockpile of tacit knowledge that comes from a lifetime of experience doing the things that have become second nature to them." (location 1160)
    • Dispositions and the New Culture of Learning
    • Collective Indwelling
  • Chapter 7 KNOWING, MAKING, AND PLAYING
    • Knowing
    • Making
    • Playing
  • Chapter 8 HANGING OUT, MESSING AROUND, AND GEEKING OUT
    • Hanging Out
      • "Hanging out, in her [Mimi Ito] terms, is about learning how to be with others in spaces that are mediated by digital technology. ... In essence, hanging out is a social, not merely technological, activity. It is about developing a social identity." (location 1432)
      • "Thus the first aspect of indwelling, which hanging out begins to develop, is social experience. And social experience is governed by a central question: What is my relationship to others?" (location 1435)
    • Messing Around
      • "When messing around, young people begin to take an interest in and focus on the workings and content of the technology and media themselves, tinkering, exploring, and extending their understanding.” Mimi Ito (location 1439)
      • "The function of play in messing around, above all else, is to unpack and experiment with the familiar. ... messing around, which is characterized by Ito as “open-ended,” “self-taught,” and “loosely goal directed” follows from hanging out. ...the process of knowing stops being about one’s relationship to others and becomes about one’s relationship to the environment. (location 1443)
      • "When that happens, technology and digital media begin to be viewed as an extension of oneself. Not surprisingly, most of the introductions to messing around that Ito describes involve things that are heavily connected to personal identity, such as videos, pictures, profiles, and the modifications that players make to the games they play." (location 1457)
      • "Messing around, therefore, constitutes the second step of indwelling: embodiment. It asks the question: What am I able to explore?" (location 1466)
    • Geeking Out
      • "Geeking out involves learning to navigate esoteric domains of knowledge and practice and participating in communities that traffic in these forms of expertise.” Mimi Ito (location 1475)
      • "Geeking out provides an experiential, embodied sense of learning within a rich social context of peer interaction, feedback, and knowledge construction enabled by a technological infrastructure that promotes “intense, autonomous, interest driven” learning. (location 1480)
      • "It includes the ways in which the social functions of hanging out and the exploratory functions of messing around can be harnessed and compounded, through collaboration, to produce specialized knowledge networks and Internet-based communities and organizations." (location 1483)
      • "Geeking out asks the question: How can I utilize the available resources, both social and technological, for deep exploration?" (location 1488)
  • Chapter 9 THE NEW CULTURE OF LEARNING FOR A WORLD OF CONSTANT CHANGE
    • Understanding the New Context
    • The Virtual Space of the Collective Indwelling
    • Shared Imagination
    • What Really Counts
    • Playing to Learn