The internet has exposed us to
a vast heterogeneous landscape of
content and ideas,
with unprecedented ad hoc ability to
navigate, inspect, select and collect
both programmatically and not.
This completely changes our general expectations
of what “knowledge” is available,
and the specific issue at hand is
how we confidently derive
consistent meaning from the
breadth of disparate information sources.
In that environment,
learning increasingly occurs
through nothing less than
the employment of
the intellectual mode used
as a basic cognitive instrument in art.
Concepts from one context
are ported to another context,
and received there as catalysts
of modelling new knowledge.
Today, knowledge transfer
increasingly means that
concepts are not just
an end point product in one subject.
They are also
a beginning of new product development
in another subject.
The “transfer of knowledge”
is really a delivery –
of concepts from intelligence.
But more specifically it is
a naturally emerging adaptive behavior,
of increasingly self-propelled learners,
in the complexity and density of
the current information landscape.
In Big Learning,
exposing patterns of intelligence
and re-purposing them
in multiple domains
ordinary, continual, and ubiquitous
BIG LEARNING: The Notes
The History of “Knowing”
The Information Landscape
A Learning Dynamic
The Ambiguity of Content
The Diversity of Approach
Proof of Learning
Intellect, ideas and knowledge are different but systemically related
The value of knowledge is in adaptation across environments
Multi-environment adaptability is the education agenda
The value of teaching is to predispose effective performance
Self-service is a naturally emerging adaptive behavior
Knowledge develops through a managed information transfer
Meaning is derived through contexts and affinities
In learning, interpretation creates meaning from intelligence
Validation of content is a prerequisite of its value as knowledge
The promoter’s purpose must be compatible with the user’s intention
Learning is a capability, and Education is developmental
Alternative paths of knowledge gain are the next normal
Self-service learning leverages frameworks and models for value
Critical thinking is the default paradigm of learning
Freedom of thought is natural and should become normal in practice
Learning requires both facilitation and authority
Learning enables on-demand production of appropriate knowledge
Beyond grand unification theories or religions,
there is always
both “more” and “different” knowledge
than we have already gained.
Hypothetically, we could stop learning
at the point where we are now.
Curiosity does not always require a response.
But we generally think of “learning”
the purposeful acquisition of knowledge.
And historically, the general purposes
of acquiring additional knowledge
are what drive us on to
continue getting more than we have.
“Knowledge” is not actions;
knowledge is ideas.
But the value of knowledge is,
in terms of
some kind of performance.
The most important function of knowledge
was always first to support
the ability to identify and adapt to the environment.
Then, knowledge guided conscious design,
primarily to invent practical signs and tools,
which “formalized” the environment.
The next use of knowledge was usually to
change the environment.
When the environment was re-created
by design and by tools,
or by Nature,
the new circumstances called for
a return to the first knowledge function,
So the cycle began again.
This cycle includes two fundamental
conditions of knowledge value:
awareness, and application.
That is, the basic value of knowledge
is generated from
identifying an awareness and
exercising the ability to
apply that awareness usefully.
This exercise, or “performance”,
is the attractor and goal of learning.
Today, an exponentially greater ability
to form the environment on demand
means that more builders are active,
creating more different situations.
Environmental diversity results.
Consequently, knowledge expands its
scope of purpose
the ability to move across boundaries.
That involves a different requirement –
not an ability to adapt to “the” environment,
but instead to adapt across multiple environments.
In today’s information landscape,
learning means gaining the ability to
take examples from one environment and
apply them productively in other environments.
The ability to abstract and extract
productive meaning from
heterogeneous sources of intelligence
is similar to the new achievement of “Big Data”,
but instead we must see it as Big Learning…
In an “information environment”,
certain ideas are offered in a certain context.
Context predisposes how the idea is
acknowledged, understood, and appreciated.
The “meaning” of the idea emerges “in context”.
But the idea also may reappear
in a different context.
That event raises the question of whether
the meaning has thereby changed, and of whether
it is important to prefer one context over another.
The environmental diversity
of multiple contexts
future learning will intend for a
manageable and valuable adaptation
to those “information environments”
and across them.
This adaptability will be a key feature of
Adaptation to multiple environments
requires us to take on several key tasks,
both scientifically and culturally.
*prioritize what the environments
should be like,
*understand adapted behaviors,
*assess the difference between
actual behaviors and preferred behaviors,
*and then, understand how to manage
environmental diversity itself.
In effect, these adaptation tasks must become
the agenda items of education.
The value of knowledge is, ultimately,
always measured in terms of
some kind of performance.
But knowledge acquisition does not
determine when the performance is required;
instead, it predisposes an ability to perform.
Teaching and learning are “always on”,
as a hybrid (combo) provider
to satisfy the prerequisites for performance.
The teaching-learning hybrid
is what we usually call “education”.
Education always has the same goal:
to achieve intellectual competency
“problems” that are
either chosen or unavoidable.
Providing education presumes an ability to
execute and coordinate responses to
two different but complementary challenges.
The biggest challenge in teaching is
to convey, as information,
the relationship of conditions to events.
But the biggest challenge in learning is
to recognize the meaning
of received information.
Meanwhile, no amount of teaching
is ultimately valuable
without effective learning.
In our information-saturated times,
the teaching-learning relationship
is still indispensable to
developing large targeted communities of
effectively educated individuals.
However, learning is becoming
increasingly enabled by
that both produces and explores
knowledge in the information landscape
for the separate individual.
Technology also increases
of a wider range of knowledge forms,
both to any person and to more persons,
by any individual teacher.
That same increase changes
the individual’s ability to teach,
Thus it also means that
the technology creates
a newer and increased capability
for self-teaching as well.
A technology-enabled combination of
self-teaching and self-learning
is now an alternative default option
in driving intellectual development.
But regardless of any deliberate intent,
the self-service option is essentially a
naturally emerging adaptive behavior
responding to the complexity and density of
the current information landscape.
In that behavior, the bias (demand) is towards learning,
and the key question is,
what is being learned, and how?
We normally think of a “learning event”
an acquisition of knowledge
a transfer of
knowledge from an information source –
or that results from
a development of
knowledge from an experience.
Meanwhile, any life experience itself
can be the information source.
there is a way to understand
the development of knowledge
as a “transfer” of
information that was originally
embedded in experience.
The “mobility” of the information
means that it can be extracted from its origin
and re-situated elsewhere, for example
as part of a different experience.
Learning is both
a practice and a result of how
that transfer takes place.
Usually, the responsibility for
orchestrating and managing
that transfer and the affects of it
is given to teachers.
But today, an increasing reliance on
self-service learning opportunities
means that the learners must take up
more of the responsibility themselves –
for balancing the
production and benefits of
the affects of the transfer.
Prior experience is often documented as
intelligence about a subject.
Collections of preserved information
A concept is
a given meaning associated with
a given set of intelligence.
In that way,
intelligence supports and indicates concepts.
But the same intelligence can support and indicate
different concepts simultaneously.
Conventionally, designated domains
host and cultivate certain concepts
within the boundary of a subject.
Disciplines act within a domain,
to add, move, change and delete
concepts in the domain.
Some disciplines may be inherent to a domain
while others are not and may be
used on the domain.
Within the subject,
disciplines and domains together
organize concepts as
verified, maintained “material” (content)
that we may call knowledge.
In effect, they “administer” knowledge.
In that way,
the disciplines and domains manage
the meanings that are intended to be
available to any attending person.
Subject areas and domains
provide shared expectations that help to
guide the intentions of
from whatever their circumstances.
the information environment
that is available on demand to an individual
allows content – and therefore concepts –
to be freely transported and included
across their different circumstances,
not just across different people
in the same circumstance.
The diversity of circumstances adds
uncertainty, variety, and/or novelty
to how concepts will be recognized
by an individual receiving information.
Differences in recognition
cause differences in meaning.
An individual receiver’s circumstance
is dominated by two aspects:
context, and affinity.
By definition, intelligence is
information about something.
Due to some “pre=processing”,
information enters the learning process
composes the intelligence to be
its original intended circumstance.
To “acquire” knowledge
from that intelligence,
the learning process features
for interpreting the composition.
In that process, interpretation reveals
how the included information
is being used as offered.
“Knowledge” occurs when
the capability for interpreting composition
makes it clear why, not just how,
the included information can be meaningful.
This is similar to the ability to
understand language and to speak,
based on the grammar and syntax.
In other words,
knowledge is fundamentally
a practical capacity,
not a collection of intelligence.
As an effort to “produce” knowledge,
education concerns itself with
how people learn and how they practice thinking,
not just how they acquire facts and make decisions.
To do that, education focuses on developing
the capability for interpretation
into the capacity of knowledge.
In education’s development effort,
teaching focuses on
what the presenter knows and why;
learning addresses the question,
“how do we know what the presenter knows?”
The development effort called education
is itself an experience.
The value of the education experience
increases along with
the complexity that comes from
of information and intelligence.
Abundant availability of intelligence
does not necessarily cause
and it may even complicate it or reduce it.
The challenge created by this abundance
is due to both
packaging and delivery.
The process of learning that leads to
the occurrence of knowledge
information has a usability
based on its
credibility, persistence and authority –
in other words, reliability.
But the portability of information
can readily create
ambiguity about how or why
information is reliable.
The massive volumes of information
in the current landscape
“cross domain” and “cross discipline”
exposure of information
normal, not exceptional.
That exposure of information gives it
more chances to be valuable
but not necessarily
more likelihood of being valuable.
The mass exposure means that
confusion or devaluation
are also easily possible effects.
In the face of
potential information overload,
is a prerequisite of
deriving value from information.
something must be done to
make the information into
explicitly intended value.
Ordinarily, the “productized” information is
information packaged as “content”.
Content is usually
intended to be provided
in association with specified uses,
which offers a sense of reliability or certainty.
But what now is becoming
abundantly “ordinary” as content
is the mash-up, the multi-media,
the virtualization, the sampling,
the personalization, and more...
This challenges any presumption that information is
“original” and therefore “authentic”…
Additionally, because of
networked communications and digitization,
the cycle time from
source material collection,
to re-presentation –
is down from weeks to minutes;
and the outputs of the first cycle
very quickly become
the inputs of another cycle.
As a defacto practice,
information processing and content production
both now feature
a vast and sometimes volatile
open sourcing of
excerpts, proxies, relatives, and derivatives
of requested information,
built into daily presentations
along with original material.
have unprecedented power to do this
in their own role
as technology-enabled providers of material.
In a parallel practice,
individuals have unprecedented power
to search for, and become receivers of,
content and its information.
But they are now more often left to their own devices
to determine their level of confidence in
whether the information in the presentations
Is appropriate to their purpose.
Given the far greater numbers
of independent recipients,
such idiosyncrasy brings
far greater variety in
how content is
interpreted for use.
In short, when information is encountered,
its utility and meaning can be
completely recast in short order,
versus the intended utility and meaning
with which it was originally provided.
Meanwhile, the biggest challenge in learning is
to recognize the meaning
of received information.
Because of that,
certain practices of learning
must now become
ordinary and defacto
“best practices” as well.
The key practice emphasizes
the active decision-making that
validates available information
credible and appropriate for
In both context and content,
a presentation of information
uses and provides the information
in a given form.
interpreting that presentation
to derive meaning through its form.
The new “ordinary” process of learning
must build explicit awareness
that form is provided for presentation,
and of how
that form is valid for a recipient’s need.
The new ordinary process of learning
must also train an explicit applicability
of that awareness
through techniques that
extract and determine
of the information.
The development of awareness and applicability
will be through techniques of
interpretation and recognition.
The exposure of composition
help to “unpack” the information in content
and discover the characteristics of the information
that were formed by
the presentation of the content.
That discovery guides the
subsequent selection and acceptance of
a relevant arrangement of the information
as further-usable ideas.
The main challenges to that exposure
now come from
the ease of hit-&-run content consumption…
Today’s super-high availability of content
and speed of access to it
encourage an impatience in usage (applicability)
that results in
taking content at apparent “face value”.
The superficial encounter with information
appears to suffice in the moment, but
content acquisition winds up
substituting for learning.
A second challenge to the
original creators of content
make a significant initial effort to
package information in a way that
is already “expressive”
without investigation or interpretation.
By discouraging inspection (awareness),
the packaging can actually create
a difference between
what the content creator intended to deliver,
and what can be expected to arrive through
the “filter” of the content receiver’s context.
Superficiality (face value) and misalignment
are drawbacks of passive exposure that indicate
two important preconditions for
learning from the content.
First, to align applicability,
a content promoter
may need to give equal or greater emphasis
to the content purpose over the content ingredients.
Second, to align awareness,
a content provider
may need to be a responsible arbiter of
producer intentions and requestor expectations.
The result of composition
is the relationships of
the elements and components
that build up
concepts conveyed in content.
This means that
concepts can be seen as a result of
selections, arrangements, and emphases
of the elements and components.
New technologies increasingly automate
techniques that perform those constructions.
The automation in turn makes the techniques
far more widely usable by
independently working individuals.
Automation can affect
the elements and components
at almost any level of their exposure.
The priority in learning is
to avoid having automation
reinforce inattention and instead
to have it reinforce appropriate applicability.
This reflects the goal of producing
knowledge that has value.
As one example of
we now have Big Data –
the computerized analysis of relationships
within high volumes of
Data is commonly seen as
one level of element that is
processed as a component
Big Data having “constructive” impact
on information and knowledge value
in this conventionally arranged way:
Data processing creates information,
and information processing creates knowledge,
and knowledge processing creates wisdom,
so Big Data will start pushing
value-supporting effects “upstream”.
But that convention is quite vague about
what “processing” occurs.
Discovery, selection, analysis, packaging, delivery,
and other “production” tasks
are increasingly gaining automation and integration
in their manipulation of ideas.
These provide opportunities to
“program” the overall effort that
takes an individual through a trip
from an initial exposure of chosen intelligence
to a final comprehension of concepts.
But with or without automation,
education operates on
the how plus the why of meaning.
As developed in education,
the ability to evaluate
Intelligence from whatever origins
is integrated with
the ability to interpret
content in whatever context.
The education effort coordinates
the directions, priorities and
attention to how
ideas have been managed
from the producer to the recipient user.
New technologies that help to
automate that coordination
continue to become available to individuals
for their independent personal efforts.
But the pattern of coordination is
the actual “program” affecting learning.
As arranged by education,
the pattern of coordination
is for a
that develops and rehearses
the ability to learn.
We typically identify expertise as
the highest value product of
As a product,
its availability and variety
is distinguished for the user by
where it comes from,
what to do with it,
and who cares.
Expertise is usually acknowledged as
a goal or destination of
a special level of
certifiable, prescribed approaches.
alternative paths to acquiring knowledge
are emerging as
viable new defaults and norms.
In any path, we say that
the acquisition occurs when
knowledge is transferred
from provider to recipient.
For an information consumer,
this “knowledge transfer” path
is really a delivery,
of concepts derived from intelligence.
Today, self-service raises the issue of what
aspects of the delivery should be
explicit to, or accomplished by,
Acquisition of content is one mode of receiving concepts,
But that does not equate to learning.
Thanks to new tools,
content users increasingly become
their own content producers.
But the continual redevelopment
of existing content
creates more and more
content in the traffic,
carrying ideas in a variety of ways.
Meanwhile, recipients increasingly decide
their own interpretations of what is received.
But for learning to be done
by the content recipient,
handling the burden of content volume
requires the content to be
in a state that
allows its composition
to be understood as well.
Content contains information
that composition has formed into
intelligence with intent to have impact.
That intended impact of the intelligence
is the meaning of the content,
and the form produced by the composition
is a concept.
Learning intends to “acquire”
the meaning of the content
by interpreting the concept.
Deriving a concept from intelligence involves
apprehending included ideas through
Identification and selection for interpretation.
learning requires an active attitude
towards awareness of the composition,
which is manipulating ideas.
For example, this may be done with a framework.
And the “delivery” of the concept
comprehending it, through
classification and prioritization for implementation.
learning requires an active attitude
towards applicability of the way that
composition was seen to have formed key concepts.
For example, this may be done with a model.
Both in apprehending intelligence
and in comprehending concepts,
the user of information
can sit on a spectrum between being
a passive “trusting” receiver or
an active “verifying” producer.
Among the powerful new tools,
that the user now has,
social media, open sourcing, and digitization
are especially important…
Each tool can be used
in a receiver role or in a producer role.
The multiple new technologies
have today explosively increased
the ordinary initial exposure
to information that may be
relevant to our key tasks,
compared to previous eras.
despite the risk of being overloaded
by volumes of already-available content,
users in the current information environment
increasingly employ new tools to facilitate
their additional desired enhancement, modification,
reproduction or repurposing
of the arriving and evident information.
The interactions of these technologies
generate an enormous range of content,
originating from a huge variety of
circumstances and contributors,
collecting at a receiver’s
single, shared, target point of access.
At the location of access to
increasingly abundant content,
learners have the significant problem of
handling and vetting the workload.
But the potential readily exists for
a wider scope of knowledge gain…
or for a more vigorous cross-referencing
In effect, by exposing
the mechanisms of composition,
knowledge about the knowledge
is part of the actual final
“delivery” of knowledge from content.
The more that the self-service individual
can consciously consider the mechanisms,
the more autonomous the person is
as a learner and as
an eventually knowledgeable
Concepts in one domain
can be abstracted as recognized patterns
into another domain.
The pattern is something that can be
maintained for reference and re-presentation.
Patterns are formed by
the manipulations of information.
These manipulations include
definitions, rules, and behaviors
that account for why information was
included, arranged, used and maintained.
In the target domain
they provoke new recognition of
forms (structures or conditions)
that were latent there
but not previously cultivated or exposed.
In turn, these “newly evident” forms
drive and populate new knowledge.
has always been a responsibility
of educators of knowledge
and managers of knowledge.
Those parties work in collaboration with
subject matter experts.
Their ability to provide meta-knowledge
is critical to guiding
the recognition of ideas by learners.
In learning, the use of
approaches that drive recognition
can still be a specialized pursuit.
But this drive may not need to be
a conventional “domain expert” effort.
More and more,
the approaches are borrowed from one area
where they have been previously established,
and tried out in other areas
where they are unusual or unprecedented.
Today, broader application of
is increasingly a default opportunity
instead of the exception.
For one thing, within a given area,
recognition approaches are far more often
collaboratively determined, including
collating or combining the different procedures
of multiple parties.
And for another, these approaches are
applied not only within
a given area of specialization,
both across areas (simultaneously or synchronously)
and in multiple areas (asynchronously and independently).
This flexibility is a strongly liberalized attitude
towards the environment of information.
We already know this liberty of practice,
an “intellectual freedom”,
in several familiar and even embraced ways.
We expect young Children to do it,
at least while they have few inhibitions.
We expect “Innovators” to do it,
because they are consciously experimenting.
And we expect “Solvers” to do it
either when they are in trouble
or when they are working for us while we are in trouble.
Yet normally, except in the arts,
we have still considered
these liberalized productive thinking situations
to be relatively extra-ordinary,
relegating them for exceptional duty.
Most of the time,
most people are expected to be doing
something less improvisational,
typically for more prescribed results.
However, new tools let us
dramatically confront this limitation.
The self-service opportunity
to learn independently
is now more sustainable at increased levels.
But the value of acquired knowledge
remains predisposed (not predetermined) by
the delivery of processed content.
That delivery is what comprises
the development effort that is
the individual’s actual learning.
More than knowledge acquisition,
learning is an experience, of
the material information provided
in the source.
That redevelopment requires
real-time awareness and validation
of why information has been presented
by content the way it was.
Practicing this awareness and validation means
both interacting with the presentation,
and exploring or validating
its context and production.
The result of this kind of involvement is
an editorial consciousness driving
the formulation of meaning by the learner.
This involvement is not a new requirement,
but the mechanisms and options for doing it
are now permanently changed
by new technologies.
Nonetheless, the biggest challenge
to that editorial involvement is
of today’s available content.
And the sheer bulk and diversity
of today’s accessible information
is both a cause and an effect
of that malleability.
For those reasons,
learning cannot in practice rely on just
receiving, accepting and retaining
declarations and assertions
for future repetition.
Instead, the content recipient must intervene in a way that
makes sense of it in context.
Historically, interactive contextual learning
has been inhibited by
factors built into much teaching practice.
These factors have been
both technical and procedural.
For delivery of content-as-knowledge,
Individuals usually have not had
personal power tools sufficient to serve as
a reasonable alternative to
institutional (and corporate) information vehicles
that had economies of scale
and, therefore, predominant availability.
Validation of the individual’s own learning
also remained primarily institutional.
Individuals have pocket-sized information tools
that provide them with personal access to
the equivalent practical processing power of
the “supercomputers” from 15 years ago.
Widespread provision of this access
creates the conditions in which
both individual teachers and individual learners,
rapidly proliferate in numbers, and
independently of each other,
quickly jump to new accepted norms
of production levels and interaction options.
In parallel, for the most part,
authority has been a primary objective
of teaching practice.
This is because being authoritative has been
the primary basis for approval of teaching –
a social “knowledge requirement” trumping even
the goal of expertise.
Approval of teaching is increasingly
a function of consumer consensus,
which mainly tracks a correlation of
teaching approaches with
effective use of content
the quality of teaching is less evidently
a “cause” of the quality of learning,
and instead is more evidently a “success factor”.
Approved teaching has long been
a presumed prerequisite for
valid (“correct”) learning.
Now, with the practical users’ new level of intensity,
approval of teaching and validation of learning
are still criteria of a
“targeted” quality of education.
But those evaluations have vigorously evolved.
They are less captive than ever before
to older institutions.
Meanwhile they each use a
broader variety of means.
In other words,
the relationship between teaching and learning
is an area of need for increased facilitation.
the delivery and interpretation of
We might call this facilitation
and as education becomes
more of an effort of self-service,
learners must take on
more of the responsibility to facilitate.
because learners now have
far more power to
self-determine their education opportunity,
they also have the
increased responsibility to translate that power
learning how to learn:
understanding how learning occurs,
then managing activity to self-promote it
towards a purpose.
The biggest demonstration
of having “learned”
is the ability to
produce knowledge on demand –
typically, a form for expressing
meaning that is
appropriate to the occasion.
Conventionally, that demonstration is offered
under conditions of testing or production.
But the conventional emphasis on
test results or productivity
are not the measures of successful learning.
Instead, those are measures of
the value of applying knowledge.
The correct proof of learning
is found in the evidence of
the thought process used
to interpret and reformulate
In Big Learning,
exposing and re-purposing
patterns of intelligence
across multiple domains
becomes an ordinary, continual,
and ubiquitous activity.
This activity is
a natural adaptive behavior
in the current information landscape.
The goal is to be able to
cultivate it, train it and direct it
with a level of disciplinary awareness
that increases the probability
of beneficial effects.