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New Technologies and Knowledge Networks*
As a starting point for this editorial, I will state three premises that might seem obvious, but that should be stated so they are not forgotten: a) Technologies for informing and communicating, elements that are inherent to all human societies, have always existed and have evolved alongside humanity from the caves of Altamira to the present day’s Internet; b) Historically, as techniques and instruments for informing and communicating have been renovated, the real innovation has not been in the materials, but instead in the transcendence of new means of communicating and informing and; c) In these new technologies of information and communication, there is a quantitative potential for innovation that is manifested primarily in terms of coverage, speed and social penetration. Nevertheless, the potential for innovation also manifests itself in the qualities of the situations that cause the reusability of products, the convergence of media, permanent connectivity and the interactivity of processes, all of which transform our modes of knowing, as well as our ways of organizing, sharing and applying knowledge.
New modes of knowing within knowledge networks must employ a privileged strategy, especially for collaborative work, that responds to three fundamental questions: What can I contribute to the knowledge of others? What do others need? What do we all need and therefore do we need to work on together? It is from here that we deduce that all of the members of a network convert themselves into both its providers and its beneficiaries at the same time as being the facilitators of knowledge mobility which is realized through fluidity, dynamism, opportunity and pertinence.
The modalities of the knowledge networks can be as diverse as are the members that constitute them, their conditions and their educational purposes. There are abundant examples in the world and in our region, including:
- Organizations of academic communities: These are made up of students, researchers, professors or educational administrators, and facilitate the collective construction of knowledge and its consequential socialization.
- Shared Directories: Made up of academic personnel as well as experts in processes of knowledge management and learning processes.
- Digital Library Networks: So that the flow of information is more dynamic and opportune, as well as better and more widely shared.
- Development of joint or shared investigations or research: this can occur at the institutional level or on a personal level.
- Creation or shared use of intellectual resources: These can be academic programs, learning objects, databases or a diverse array of educational materials.
- Collaboration in technological platforms: For the joint creation and management of understanding, along shared criteria and standards.
The possibilities that can be glimpsed for collaborative work by virtue of the advancement of ICTs are highly attractive and viable. Still, they are not easily implemented when considering the challenges that must be overcome. More than just academic and technological which are also of essential importance to this proposal, some of the biggest challenges are to be found in the educational policies, the organizational culture and the various stiles of administrative management of our institutions.
*The ideas, thoughts, and opinions expressed are not necessarily of the OAS nor of its member states. The opinions expressed are the responsibility of the authors.