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Kaye Howe - Learning Resources

Kaye Howe
Director, Resource Center for the National Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) Digital Library
Interviewed 2/11/2010

Summary
Do you see yourself as a “constructor of knowledge”? Kaye Howe discusses how the great democratization of information is changing and threatening institutions. Authoritarian structures are being turned upside down as young people see and understand themselves as creative persons who construct knowledge through video, music, etc. This is revolutionary, transformational, and also very scary to some.

Quotes:
On management: “The technology was easy and the people side of it was very difficult.”
On digitization: “This was really about communication and the creation of communities, and not about content.”

Management challenges
One of the greatest management challenges is that you may find yourself in a role where you have a lot of responsibility but very little authority.
- “The technology was easy and the people side of it was very difficult.”

You may also find yourself charting unknown territory as part a large project where no one knows exactly what needs to be done. Ask yourself these questions:
- What should it be?
- Where should we go?
- What should we do?
- What are we to make of this?
- How do we work together in this new kind of organization?

From content to communication and communities
Content, which had been in such scarcity, is anything but scarce now. The key is to shift your focus from content to communication and creating communities.
- “We were moving from content to communication.”
- “This was really about communication and the creation of communities, and not about content.”

New tools, technologies and support
When you provide access to new tools and technologies, you also need to provide people with support on how to use them.
- “Just putting things down in front of people and not providing support is really insufficient.”
- “You have to provide the context for these new tools and these new insights and these new possibilities.”

Going with the change
Be patient. Try to understand things, accept them as they are, and go with change. Realize that there is not much you can do about certain things.
- “Things take time, things go along, and you have to just go with that.”

Brain science and epistemology (how people learn)
Every day we find out more about how our brain works and how we learn.
- “How do we take advantage of what we are increasingly knowing every day and how do we pay attention to the user?”

We learn differently from each other. Ask what the context of learning is for the user. Know the user’s unique environment, which shapes how the user learns. What can you do to help the user learn in their specific environment?
- “So not only the understanding of how we learn, more and more precisely and the application of that, but the understanding in a generous way about what is the context of learning in all sorts of environments.”
- “That understanding of the learning process and the application of what we know to education -- which is absolutely the most important thing on the planet except for kindness perhaps.”

The Great Democratization of Information
The Great Democratization of Information allows everyone to construct knowledge.
- “All of this has led to a great democratization of information. And it’s changing and threatening a lot of institutions.”

Authoritarian structures are being turned upside down as individuals see and understand themselves as creative persons who construct knowledge.
- “But here are little kids taking stuff and putting it together and—and having a kind of auto—autonomy about how they learn and their own creativity and a confidence in that. That is truly transformational, really wonderful. Also very scary for a lot of people.”

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