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Talking about knowledge

July 1st, 2008 by Graham Attwell

I think I might have posted this some time ago. But it is worth looking at agin in teh context of developing Personal Learning Environments. I would argue that a central tole for a PLE is for knowledge development and sharing and the knowledge development involves different processes. Jenny Hughes has produced an analysis of different forms of knowledge based on the Welsh language. Whilst English has few words to differentiate knowledge, in Welsh there are at least six different terms for knowledge processes and six different terms for different types of knowledge, each with their own distinct meaning.
The general word for knowledge in Welsh – the translation from the English word knowledge is Gwybodaeth. Even this is not an exact translation. Gwybodaeth means something like ‘knowing-ness’, rather than knowledge.

However, the word Gwybodaeth – or knowing-ness comes in different forms defining different types of knowledge:

  1. Cynnull (gwybodaeth) – to gather knowledge (as in acquisition) ‘along life’s way’
  2. Cynhaeaf (gwybodaeth) – to harvest (purposefully) knowledge– or set up systems for harnessing knowledge or organise knowledge
  3. Cymrodedd (gwybodaeth) – to compromise what you know to accommodate the unknown
  4. Cynnau (gwybodaeth) – to light or kindle knowledge (in someone else) – can also be used to ‘share knowledge’ but implicit is that it is an active process not simply an exchange of information, which is an entirely different concept.
  5. Cynllunplas (gwybodaeth) – to design (new) knowledge, paradigm shift
  6. Cynyddu (gwybodaeth) – to increase or grow (existing) knowledge

I would argue that a PLE should support in some ways all of these different forms of knowing-ness and that such a list represents a useful starting point in defining what we want a PLE to be able to do.

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