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The New Disorder of Knowledge.

Freedom, Chaos and


Learning
Abstract | =**FKFT 2008**= - Stream 3. Educating in Freedom

Emilio Quintana | Instituto Cervantes de Utrecht, The Netherlands


Lola Torres | Barcelona, Spain
Grupo Nodos ELE : http://www.nodosele.com

“Free software” is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should
think of “free” as in “free speech”, not as in “free beer”
Richard Stallman
"A very large part of what we know, and how we know it is fluid, evolutionary and
context dependent"
Dave Snowden

The new Network is representing a change in the way we conceive Learning. We are
moving from an old hierarchy to a distributed disorder in which identity is reformulated
and chaos becomes a new form of organization. Education needs to change dramatically
and adapt to the new reality, or even 2.0 won't have enough time to launch lifeboats to
water.

What we call Relatively Organized Chaos has to do with Freedom and Responsibility of
individuals and, therefore, with cultural aspects rather than technological ones. As
language teachers (ELE / SFL, Spanish as a Foreign Language), we are in a privileged
position to implement these changes. That is because, in part, we have dealt with these
topics for a long time, through documents and research as important as the Common
European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) or the new Spanish Instituto
Cervantes Curriculum (IPPC), that advocates an action-oriented approach focused on
the learner and it has put into fair value strategies and processes. From there, we must
increase the "resilience" capacity of the existing frameworks in order to make them
more flexible (“chaotic”) and focused on long-term learning ("learning for life"), all
within what George Siemens called “Connective Intelligence", a concept that tries to go
beyond the "Collective Intelligence".

Contributions as important as the “Connective Theory” (Siemens), “Informal Learning”


(Jay Cross) or “Serendipitous Learning” (Teemu Arina) go along these lines. These
are ideas that were born from the Network itself, unlike other educational theories such
as Constructivism, originated in pre-teaching environments, and that therefore can
hardly be adapted to the new reality. We will also draw attention to other emerging
concepts, such as “Accidental Learning”: "Every day I make an effort to go toward
what I do not understand. This wandering leads to the accidental learning that
continually shapes my life." (cellist Yo-Yo Ma )

What should be the position of education towards this new situation and values, when
facing with this new order that is disorder at once? Undoubtedly, we must begin to be
open-minded and be more receptive to the new physical and virtual reality, because in
case these realities don't coexist and feed each other, they are condemned to falsehood.
Stephen Downes has explained us that the way to learn is different depending on the
time and the context in which we live. Therefore, the concept of Learning is not
something fixed and needs to be constantly redefined. Our role as educators, as well as
the role of learners and institutions, is to overcome fear – it was called ”Fear 2.0” in the
last Educause- and become aware of this. There is no doubt that this is a complicated
task because it requires rethinking concepts and basic values, many of whom do not fit
with the existing educational structure, based on closed/narrow ideas, courses, final
evaluations, contents, low value of the process, collide in a violent way with this new
reality of constant change, chaotic and distributed. However, it becomes a need for
Education to pact with the referred ideas of the new disorder: informal learning, life-
long learning, action-oriented learning and focused on the learner and his or her
learning processes, with freedom and individual responsibility.

The paradigms and educational values we will speak about go in parallel with the
concepts of Free Knowledge and Free Software. These "educational values" are, in
fact, an important theoretical and conceptual support for these concepts. In general, e-
learning models are still based on a course-structure very similar to the one found in the
traditional classroom: closed contents that are evaluated and certified. We believe that it
is very important that the community of e-learning and Free Software were aware and
took into account new open educational approaches: Connected, informal and
distributed learning, since they fit better and are closely related to the concept of
Freedom that supports the Free Software and Educating in Freedom, and because we
believe that Education should promote tools that allow more open approaches that are
connected with reality. Nevertheless, we should keep in mind that the learning
environment determines the way in which content is built, so the teacher must pay
attention to this context and learn to handle it.

In this presentation we will also speak about the role of the School, which maybe it´s in
the way of being transformed to the point of disappearing. This will refer to the "Three
Stages" on the relationship between knowledge and individual, explained by Seymour
Papert (1980), and the need to came back to Stage 1 -which was interrupted by the
limitations of schooling- in order to install "life-long learning" in our lives. The
technology helps us to re-locate the individual in the Zone of Proximal Development as
defined by Vygotsky. In this way, we discuss a program of maximum where the border
is the “abolition” of school and that learning must become part of a vital ecology to do
this so as absent, invisible and ubiquitous.

Some References and Further Reading:

• Arina, Teemu: Serendipic Learning and the Third Place (slideshare)


• Bean, Cammy: Accidental Learning. In:
http://learningvisions.blogspot.com/2008/03/accidental-learning.html
• Cross, Jay: Informal Learning. Rediscovering the natural pathways that inspire
innovation and performance. And Learning Blog: http://infrml.com
• Downes, Stephen: Education 2.0. National Research Council of Canada. En
Elearning Magazine.
• Dewey, John: http://janeknight.typepad.com/pick/2008/04/moving-
workplac.html
• Gatarski, Richard: http://nodosele.blogspot.com/search?q=gatarski
• Moravec http://www.concepcionabraira.info/img/educacion1a3.png
• Papert, Seymour (1980): Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas.
The Harvester Press Limited.
• Shank, Roger in Edge. 2006: ¿Cuál es tu idea peligrosa?: "No más miradas
indecentes de los maestros"
• Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism. A learning theory for the Digital Age. In:
http://elearnspace/Articles/connectivism.htm
• Siemens, G. (2007). Knowling Knowledge. In:
http://knowingknowledge.com/2006/10/knowing_knowledge_pdf_files.php
• Siemens, G. (2007): "Collective Intelligence? Nah. Connective Intelligence" in
http://www.elearnspace.org/blog/archives/003269.html
• Stallman, R. (1999). Free Software Foundation. Cambridge, MA: Free Software
Foundatio
• Zeitgeist Learning: The Future of Education is Just-in-Time, Multidisciplinary,
Experimental, Emergen