The Knowledge Boson

 In the first guest post on I Am Learner, Jim Wynn proposes an epistemological analogy with the Higgs-Boson particle…..

Jim Wynn

Jim Wynn, Chief Education Officer, Promethean

When you  look at a book on Amazon it very helpfully tells you about the other books people have looked at who also bought the book you are looking at. However what this misses is how you got to this book and why you are looking at it. You may be looking at a “teach yourself Italian” book because you want to go on holiday to Italy or because you want to go there to do business and in each case the next book will be different. A guide to Rome for the former and how to bribe politicians for the latter, perhaps.

So one piece of knowledge, multiple uses. There is a clear analogy to the Higgs-Boson particle here, so let’s steal the word. Let’s think of learning objectives as knowledge bosons. KBs behave differently in different circumstances and when able to do this they enable multivarious and non-uniformity of usage.

Turning to the brain, we are all different, all unique, because of the way the synapses make contact with each other. They touch each other forming your view of the world and they build your character and develop your unique characteristics. They way they touch affects your journey through all of the knowledge bosons out there. But there is one problem. And it is the Amazon one. If packets of knowledge are only presented to us in one way then we risk only seeing them in that way, in the way the author intended. Like it or not things are presented to us with a hidden purpose, and therefore in learning terms, a hidden pedagogy, and if they are to be different to the tourist or business person then this has somehow to be enabled and rendered explicit.

I’m convinced that as we become more and more responsible for our own learning then synaptic knowledge bosons have to exist and we will need systems as big as the large hadron collider to find them. On the other hand we need to start tagging learning objects in ways that permit them to  be found and used in myriad different ways, and learning management systems have to recognize the journeys learners take and be less prescriptive about where they might wish to go next.