How Knowledge Workers Learn Judgment

Nancy Dixon, New Zealand Education Gazette, Feb 05, 2013
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Interesting post discussing how people who are knowledge workers learn how to make judgements "that require much more that simply following a predetermined step by step procedure." Lawyers, nurses, platoon leaders - all of these are examples of knowledge workers. The post reflects many of the principles we follow in MOOC desgn. "The corporate view... is that knowledge and skill are a matter of individual competence, which is gained by attending training, reading journals, and/or listening to lectures. The underlying assumptions of that view are that, 1) there are individuals with expertise who can provide the knowledge required to be effective, through documents or lecture, and 2) that the required knowledge is relatively stable, it changes little over time.

"[But] as more and more of the workforce is populated by knowledge workers our premise about of how people develop the judgment to be effective is changing. The newer view holds that: 1. complex knowledge and skills are distributed across the practitioners who use that skill, with no one individual knowing all that the group knows, and 2. knowledge is continually changing as the group of practitioners learn from the act of practicing their craft. Ideas are not fixed and elements of thought are formed and reformed through experience. Knowledge then is not stable, but is ever changing." Knowledge workers learn from experience, by identifying patterns, and through immersion in their community. Just like in a MOOC.

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