is abundant but the ability to use it is scarce"
Gawith presents excerpts from
Professor Ron Johnston’s keynote address at the recent
Toshiba Expanding Horizons Conference
If you are
utterly bored, as I am, with the hype merchants (plug kids into
computers and watch them light up) or the doom merchants (get
onto the steam roller or you’ll be part of the road), Professor
Ron Johnston’s keynote address at the recent Toshiba Expanding
Horizons Conference was a breath of fresh air.
Johnston is Executive director of the Australian Centre for Innovation
and International Competitiveness (ACIIC) (see website info p.
the relevance of solid research and solid knowledge in the debate
about education for a knowledge economy.
characteristics of this society he saw as:
He went on
to put flesh onto the bones of terms such as knowledge intensification,
are embedding knowledge in all sorts of ways to achieve capabilities
we weren’t able to before."
synthesis of design, technology, colour, art, choreography, whimsy,
imagination, brawn and brain that was the opening ceremony of
the Sydney Olympics was evidence, surely, of knowledge intensification?
about the difference between information and knowledge, depicting
information as ‘digitisable’, knowledge as existing
"in intelligent systems - you and me and developing systems."
He saw learning as involving balancing information and knowledge,
and describes the paradoxes of knowledge:
knowledge does not consume it
knowledge does not lose it
more transfer of knowledge, the more you have.
IS ABUNDANT BUT THE ABILITY TO USE IT IS SCARCE.
that knowledge is idiosyncratic, and looked at the need for knowing
who, when and where together, claiming that scientific cultures
emphasise knowing why at the expense of technical cultures which
emphasise knowing how. he described a far more sophisticated and
intuitive form of knowing: "The knowledge itself is changing
the environment in which we operate and that requires quite different
Such as going
beyond simple analysis to intuition; recognising patterns and
trends, working collaboratively, handling ambiguity, valuing complexity,
valuing flexibility, being highly self-directed.
What is needed
to prepare the knowledge worker of the future?
• lifelong learning
• learning to
• customised learning
that the "demand for cognitive skills has increased
somewhat,but the demand for interactive skills has increased
He sees the
need for "quite different skills":
ability to communicate deeply;
flexibility, value complexity rather than simplicity; "In
simplifying we lose the richness of data. The more we can maintain
complexity, the more choices we have";
self-directed; high discretion;
• Working to a logic of improvisisation.