The Learning as a Network (LaaN) view is built upon four premises:
- Knowledge and learning are two sides of the same coin.
- Knowledge and learning are fundamentally social in nature.
- Knowledge is in the network, or even more knowledge is the network.
- Learning is a matter of knowledge networking across knowledge ecologies.
The LaaN perspective views learning as the networking of knowledge nodes. A distinction that is often cited in the literature is made between explicit and tacit knowledge. Explicit knowledge (or information) is systematic knowledge that is easily codified in formal language and objective. In contrast, tacit knowledge is hard to formalize, difficult to communicate and subjective (Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995). Consequently, we have two types of knowledge nodes:
- Explicit knowledge nodes are different explicit knowledge assets available in a variety of forms such as texts, images, sounds, videos and captured in distributed information repositories such as blogs, wikis, pod/vodcasts etc.
- Tacit knowledge nodes are people performing in diverse, frequently overlapping social domains.
Learning is the networking of explicit/tacit knowledge nodes. What we are trying to do all the time is either to pull together explicit knowledge from more than one source, reflect, detect patterns, remix and assemble it to form a new explicit knowledge asset or to expand our personal social networks by connecting to different social domains to create and share tacit knowledge in a collaborative way, through participation, dialogue, discussion, observation, and imitation.
Within a LaaN perspective, everyone is treated as a knowledge networker, one who has the ability to:
- Create, harness, nurture, maintain, and extend her personal knowledge network.
- Identify connections, recognize patterns, and make sense between different knowledge nodes.
- Locate the knowledge node(s) that can help achieving better results.
- Cross boundaries, connect and collaborate.
- Navigate and learn across multiple knowledge networks.