Thursday, January 24, 2002

Dr. Alain Breuleux -- Associate Professor in the Department of Educational & Counselling Psychology in the Faculty of Education at McGill University and Director of Integration in the TeleLearning Network of Centres of Excellence -- is participating as a guest speaker in one of my courses at OISE. We are extremely fortunate to have Br. Breuleux participating in our group discussion.

Our class is in the midst of a discussion with Dr. Breuleux regarding his paper Imagining the present, interpreting the possible, cultivating the future: Technology and the renewal of teaching and learning which was published in the Fall 2001 edition of Education Canada.

Dr. Breuleux introduces the notion of a "dynamic knowledge base" in his article. Dr. Breuleux provided the following elaboration when asked about the characteristics of a "dynamic knowledge base" and how best to institute and foster such a "base".

A "dynamic knowledge base" is,
"a 'system' of people and artifacts that changes over time more quickly than in our current context, where there are long delays between the time a new tool appears and the time its pedagogical opportunities are explored and validated. How to make it happen: sharing with others certainly is part of the process, but it is easier said than done; sharing is a "cultural trait", in a sense, it is an attitude, a way of being that depends on the collective, cultural environment, and it will be difficult for a few individuals to achieve this "way of being" in a culture that doesn't agree with it (i.e., where knowledge is an individual possession and an instrument of social power).

And this culture is founded also on pragmatic considerations if we want our research and teaching practices to connect: we need processes, time, and tools for engaging in conversations about what we consider valuable, intriguing questions for for research and teaching."

While this statement is true in any environment, it seems especially relevant in the corporate world. Groups and departments within corporations often seem disinclined to share the knowledge they glean. Knowledge is held close to the vest for fear it -- and the budgets and project funding that come with it -- will slip away. Unfortunately, knowledge is all too often "an individual possession and an instrument of social power."

I suspect that there will, ultimately, be evolutionary, "natural selection" consequences for organizations that are unwilling or unable to adopt the "dynamic knowledge base" advocated by Dr. Breuleux. Failure to embrace a "collective, cultural environment" of building and sharing knowledge will lead to a competitive disadvantage for such organizations and will, ultimately, adversely affect the viability of such organizations.

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