Skills of an expert knower 2.0/leaner 2.0

Elisabetta Cigognini asks me whether I could draw a list of 10 adjectives — concepts, capacities, competences — that qualify the skills of an expert knower 2.0 or learner 2.0.

Difficult, because I get consciously or unconsciously “intoxicated” by John Palfrey’s list of characteristics of a digital native. I believe that a digital native and a knower/learner 2.0 are overlapping concepts (especially if you take digital native as a “syndrome”, as I do, and not as a generational fingerprint, which makes poor sense in a digitally divided world) but are not exactly the same thing.

You can browse Elisabetta Cigognini’s publications and speeches pages for a good bunch of readings about what a knower/learner 2.0 stands for. Regarding myself, and summing up, what I have in mind is an adult learner, or an expert knower, that, by definition, has left a long track behind that backs his vast knowledge in one — or more — fields, and is intensively using the Internet — specially Web 2.0 apps — to both increase and enhance the reach of his knowledge. Just to put things clear again about digital natives, I believe that:

    Digital native = expert knower 2.0 – experience – maturity – general knowledge (+ deep knowledge in one new field of knowledge)

Or, mutatis mutandis:

    Expert Knower 2.0 = Digital Native + experience + maturity + general knowledge (- deep knowledge in one new field of knowledge)

Notice the parentheses: as I said, I understand the digital native concept as a syndrome. Thus, some non-generational natives do behave like (almost) perfect digital natives, hence the fact that “deep knowledge in one new field of knowledge” can or cannot be a difference. Experience, maturity and general knowledge are provided only by lifetime spent, which, by definition, is shorter in (generational) digital natives. To me, the expert knower/learner is very close to the definition of the digital settler by John Palfrey / Urs Gasser / David Weinberger.

Going back to the list, I tried and group its points under three categories. Not that I like doing it, but it makes an easier reading and comprehension than just a 10 bullets list. They are not sorted in any way, thus last item is “last but not least” and so:

Technical skills

  • English: necessary to access relevant information. English natives will nod proudly and non-natives will deny in anger. Even if things are changing, the fact that English is the lingua franca these days for both science and business, and the fact that the Internet and the Web where born and developed in English-speaking environments has created a deep lag in the amount of information that is available in English or in other languages… combined.
  • Digerati: Informational literate: knows where and how to search, how to evaluate relevant information, etc.; Media literate: can manage any type/support of information: text, hypertext, photo, sound, video…; and Technological literate: has advanced technical skills such as general knowledge of HTML, javascript or PHP, knows how a computer, server or the Internet work, how to set up a web site and a domain, etc.
  • Multitasker: can do more than one thing at the same time, specially combining job-training-leisure tasks to create a difficult balance. Can also play havoc on the knower/learner if energies/resources are not properly measured/allocated.

Philosophical approach

  • Open: Needs sharing (for many reasons: principles, unselfish etichs, pretentious ego, self-esteem, selfish benefits…). Above all, awareness that what you give is what you get, that your wealth is — you are worth — what you contribute to your network.
  • Passion to learn: needs knowing. Learning is both a pleasure and a must. Keeps (or tries to keep) him/herself informed and up-to-date.
  • Led by the “procrastination principle“: “[to deal] with problems only as they arose—or [leave] them to [other] users to deal with” (read, for instace, Jonathan Zittrain). In other words: do what you are good at and leave the rest to other contributors of your network… and work/learn while you enjoy doing it. Can also play havoc on the knower/learner, as well as multitasking, if priorities or long-term strategies are not properly defined.

Psychologycal/Social aspects

  • Networker: can work with different people/teams for different projects. I see it quite different from the teamworker: one team for everything. Networking means that people and resources are assets that allow infinite (in possibilities) and finite (in time) combinations (Yochai Benkler puts it better than I).
  • Ubiquitous and always online: no time/space boundaries. People and information are just a click away; not being able to click them (because of being off-line) is not an option.
  • Multidisciplinar: other disciplines (than his/her default one) can bring good solutions/information on our problems. And there are many and new problems that can only be explained by a mix of different points of view and approaches.
  • Autonomous: can design, plan and lead his own learning; knows what he does not know / needs to learn, who can train or where the information is; can be self-discipline and draw an strategy and path towards his/her own (training, need for information) goals. Actually, doest not really care for what a “discipline” binds inside of it.


If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2007) “Skills of an expert knower 2.0/leaner 2.0” In ICTlogy, #50, November 2007. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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3 Comments to “Skills of an expert knower 2.0/leaner 2.0” »

  1. Grazie!
    thanks for your very interesting thoughts and your celerity in aswering !:-)
    your vision of three caterorization (technical skills, philosophical approach and psycological-social aspects) is close to our multi-levels skills view, but is very likely to provoke us in a very interesting way!!. At the end of our research we will send you our results and we will acknowledge your participation as expert.
    thank you, write you soon

    eli and mc

  2. Congratulations for the post. I think it is a great reflection that opens many research questions or hypothesis to contrast. I guess that everyone would like to be 2.0 but…we shouldn’t forget, as it is showed by most of the surveys, the world is still between 0.0 and 1.0. So if we try to ask questions about 2.0 we will probably have to use 1.0 terms to be understood.

    A year I ago I did different surveys to different healthcare professionals where, after the some trials, I couldn’t include the web 2.0 term because most of the professionals, even the youngest, did not know anything about this or about open movement… Furthermore the results show us health is still 1.0… Don’t you think It would be the same in Education if we would choose a representative sample of students or teachers?

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