Thursday, December 28, 2006

Learning: Data, Information, Knowledge, Understanding, Wisdom

I liked this, from Nivi, summarizing some of the points in the book Re-Creating the Corporation:
Learning is the acquisition of data, information, knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

And what are those things?

  • Data consists of symbols that represent objects, events, and their properties. For example, the speedometer in a car presents data.

  • Information is data that has been made useful. Information answers who, what, where, when, and how many questions. Information is helpful in deciding what to do, not how to do it. For example, the information that you are driving at 120 mph will help you decide whether to speed up or slow down. But information won’t tell you how to do it.

  • Knowledge consists of instructions and know-how. Knowledge answers how questions. For example, your driving knowledge tells you how to control the car’s speed.

  • Understanding consists of explanations. Understanding answers why questions. For example, you understand why you are in the car in the first place: because you are driving your kids to get ice cream.

  • Wisdom is the ability to perceive outcomes and determine their value. It is useful for deciding what should be done. For example, the wise may decide that driving recklessly may lead their children to do the same in the future.


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  1. Trying to find a clear definition, distinction between, and common conceptual areas of the terms of "knowledge", "know-how", "technology", "technic", "information", "data", etc. to discuss with my students, I just found a blurred collection of opinions. Taking in account that we are not English language natives, one can imagine how difficult would be the conceptualizing of these terms.

  2. Would you discuss Russell Ackoff,system theorist and professor of oranizational change,classification of human mind into five categories as

    Data: sysmbols
    Information: data that are processed to be useful;provides answers to who,what ,where and when question.

    knowledge: application of data and inforamtion; answers how qestions
    Understanding: appreciation of why
    Wsdom: evaluated understanding.

  3. [...] Brian Berliner’s Brain blog on Learning: Data, Information, Knowledge, Understanding, Wisdom [...]

  4. Hello, I have browsed most of your posts. This post is probably where I got the most useful information for my research. Thanks for posting, maybe we can see more on this. Are you aware of any other websites on this subject.