New forms of sensemaking

Simon Buckingham ShumAs I have discussed before on this blog we are using Compendium as part of our Learning Design project – to map learning activities. Simon Buckingham Shum’s talk at the OpenLearn conference provides an excellent overview of knowledge mapping and in particular the philosophy underpinning the development of Compendium. He started with “Gutenberg’s shadow – beyond the press” arguing that the invention of the printing press transformed the distribution and use of knowledge. The multifaceted possibilities of modern technologies represent a quantum leap in the ways in which we can interact information. Knowledge can now be represented in a multitude of different ways – beyond linear text. And this was a central part of what Simon was talking about – namely how different visualisations and means of making connections between ideas can be represented. Here are some of the key points I picked up: knowledge maps
• Spatial maps/mapping as a metaphor comes from the Geograpy domain and is a valuable means of representing multiple layers of information
• Application of visual mapping to knowledge offers a valuable means of structuring discourses and offers a new way for us to make meaning of information
• Ironically most ‘academic’ knowledge is still primarily distributed through the centuries-old method of printed journals, ask how might application of knowledge cartography change the nature of academic discourse?
• Possibility of changing the ways in which we engage with knowledge and agree/contest it – suggesting the possibility of changing cognition.
• How can we use visualisation as a means of thinking and mapping; as one way to slow people down so they can think and reflect on what they are thinking and saying?
• Maps are powerful on a number of levels: they have aesthetic value, unhealthy they provide visual landmarks for shared orientation, they present patterns and targetted meaning through selective hiding and highlighting of ideas
• Means of mediating between the inner mental world and a shared collective understanding
• “Open sensemaking communities” can be defined as being open to people and perspectives, sensemaking (from Karl Weick and his book “Making sense of the organsation”) and the construction of plausible narratives about the world
• How can the process of crafting a map help you think more clearly, more rigorously?
• Mapping as an intrinsic part of personal and collective sensemaking
• Mapping as a means of provoking, mediating, capturing and improving constructive discourse
• Maps are narratives
• Types of maps: Web maps, Mindmaps, Concept maps, Evidence maps, Argument maps, Dialogue maps. Ale Okada, who works with Simon, has produced a nice Compendium diagram which illustrates these
• A map can grow with the conversation – what does it mean to get literate with this – what role does it play in the overall discourse?
• Simon’s representation of the keynote from the conference is available here
• Ale has also produce a Compendium map which demonstrates how it can be used for e-learning

One Response to “New forms of sensemaking”

  1. » Blog Archive » Struggling to make sense of it all Says:

    […] we as a community are struggling to make sense of it all. I’ve posted on aspects of this before ‘New forms of sensemaking’ and ‘Degrees of meaning’. New tools and services are emerging all the time, offering new […]

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