Linking thinking – Assimilating information and insights

This chapter was largely an insight into what types of frameworks can we use for gathering and assimilating information from different sources. Sadly it was more concerned with theoretical layout of the area than with specific methods users can apply.

Learning generally happens in three main phases: gathering (insight, knowledge claims, leads), creating (connectons and assimilation) and integrating (making connections between prior and new knowledge). It is the assimilation process that is the main focus here. It has three main aspects: Organisational, conceptual and shared. Organisational aspect is refering to the process of managing information from different sources in a systematic way. Conceptual aspect means integrating information from these sources into one whole and sharing aspect is refering to the way in which we transmit this product to others.

Management of multiple sources and their integration became crucial part of informational literacy. As time went we moved from traditional linear learning media (books, manuals, courses…) to the hypertext format. Hypertext certainly has its benefits, but it often leads us into situations where we learn about subject without knowing the propper bases by which we could evaluate if the information we receive is correct or not. It is similar to trying to learn high-school organic chemistry without the prior knowledge of basic elements and reactions.

In this environment it is very important to be able to create oneś own knowledge base in which one can propperly sort and assimilate his/hers information so that he/she has the whole context of our field of interest.

There is specific software that can help us to achieve this. In this article, author refers to it as „personal bibliographic software“ but I have allso heard it described as „personal knowledge base“. These software solutions can either be „subject specific“, where the classification of subjects is allready built into the system (family trees) or „general purpose“, where user creates categories for information himself.

Problem with the second group seems to be that all users have their own „personal frameworks“ (what Piaget also called schemas) which makes it very hard for different users of software to classify same information in the same way. This then leads to problems with the sharing aspect of assimilation process as users are not able to easyly comprehend structure created by another.

What caught my attention in this article was the part where author tallked about personal frameworks and Piagets theory of schemas. According to Piaget, learning happens first trough assimilation and afterwards the accomodation. Assimilation is when learner makes sence of new experience by comparing it with the previous one. Previous situations shape his undrestanding of new situation and in the same way the new situation shapes preexisting schemas. This is the accomodation part. What is really important is that with enough new information/situations, there comes something similar to what Kuhn called „paradigm shift“ where the old schema is completely rewritten by a new one.

Is this the main point of learning, to strive for these paradigm shifts in our thinking?

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