There’s never enough time!

Managing the knowledge tsunami

The proliferation of information which is responsible for the knowledge tsunami says Marc Rosenberg, a leading management consultant in training, organizational learning, eLearning, knowledge management and performance improvement, is caused by a combination of the internet of things; big data; the advancement of science and invention and the collaborative, knowledge-sharing society. 

But that’s not all. Rosenberg argues that we have an even more challenging issue of filtering and dealing with “how long that knowledge remains accurate and useful”.

We all know that much of what we learned in school, on our first job, or even on our last job is of far less value now than when we first learned it, and that we must always be vigilant to recognize what knowledge is still valuable and what needs updating. So, an even bigger issue is how long it takes for knowledge to become outdated, incorrect, or irrelevant. One measure of this is the half-life of knowledge, the amount of time it takes for knowledge to lose half its value.

But sometimes you just need an everyday example to bring to mind the volume of content we face, as John Lavine Founder, Professor and Director, Media Management Center at Northwestern University suggests to his students who enrol in his MOOC on Coursera, Content Strategy for Professionals: Engaging Audiences.

There’s an ever-rising tidal wave of information about every subject, and it will continue to rise forever. In the introductory video for this course, I noted that in 2011, I put the words ‘coffee cup’ into Google for a search. I did it because there was one in front of me, a coffee cup. In under a minute, I got more than 16 million hits. In mid-2013, I again put ‘coffee cup’ into Google search, and I got 130 million results up from 16 million. If there are that many results for something as mundane as a coffee cup, think of the amount of information there is about absolutely every subject. Today, I see that 1,370,000,000 results are called up under the term.

Teachers personalise students search for knowledge

I want to ask curriculum leaders another question regarding the easy availability of curriculum materials online. What value is given to materials which have been developed in the school from the perspective of the knowledge and daily interactions between classroom teachers and their students? Speaking from experience, I know that the pool of materials can include a vast collection of slideshows, videos, photographs, work programs, lesson plans and student work samples.

However, let’s bypass the number of materials accumulated as a natural part of teaching and look at the expertise teachers build up over time on designing learning experiences for their students. For instance, I know that over the years I’ve developed a very idiosyncratic way of planning lessons which I now know can be explained through the interesting research by sociologist Erving Goffman work practices.

I would start planning programs of work as comprising of a series of interactives scenes, moved forward by an important question. It was no coincidence that I began to formalised this form lesson planning at a time I was writing my first textbook in 1998 focused on bringing together a number
of cross-curricular arts-based projects. A key imperative was that all the projects should demonstrated how teachers might assess their literacy programmes through the Arts.

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