A revolution in the sharing of knowledge
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© SCUP 2003
|Page III||Foreword by Diana Laurillard||
How do we capture the essence of the transformational power of e-knowledge? The digital technologies pose a mountainous challenge to all of us trying to explore the possible futures they offer. They combine a new medium with a new delivery system, and each multiplies the effect of the other. The adaptive computer is as revolutionary a way of supporting the way we think and learn as was the invention of writing. The Internet is as pervasive in its communicative impact as was the invention of the printing press. In harnessing the two together, we find ourselves grappling with the equivalent of the invention of writing and the invention of the printing press at the same time. This extraordinary historical convergence must give us pause. And yet the pace of invention never pauses, never gives us the time we need to reflect.
We cannot predict the future, but we do sense that we have the power to shape it. So we need to take time to reflect: on what those possible futures are, which are the more desirable, and what it takes to realise them. The authors of this book set out to help us with that process. On every page you will find them striving to express the ways in which e-systems can be exploited, the benefits they could yield, and what we all, individuals and organisations together, must now do.
Underlying many of the contributions in this book is a debate about epistemologywhen the knowledge technologies change so radically, they change not just what we know, but how we come to know it. The contributors here argue that knowledge is contextual, social, relativisticnot a discrete and unchanging object. The e-learning agenda creates the dilemma that while we can atomise knowledge into elements such as learning objects, we must recognise that they are there to be shared, contextualised, and negotiated in the social context of the online community of practice.
We will come to a better understanding of the epistemology of e-knowledge as we slowly acquire the habits of the e-Knowledge Economy: multitasking across the different modes of activity, publishing with or without authorship and with or without ownership, managing the tyranny of choice, manipulating the multiple sources of knowledge . . . it will take us a generation to understand the full impact of the new media. Meanwhile, the authors of this volume have succeeded in articulating, through the prosaic combination of writing, graphics, and storytelling, represented in print and PDF forms, the pathways we can use to transform ourselves and our organisations through e-knowledge.
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