Note: This is part of a Working/Learning blog carnival hosted at Dave’s Whiteboard
This post repeats some themes that regular readers have seen over the past few years, but I’m finding that there is still a great need for individuals to take control of their knowledge-creation and sharing and many are overwhelmed by the Web.
I have come to consider that the basic unit of learning is the individual and this person is indivisible. To be successful, all learning activities, products and strategies must be centered around the person. We can then go on to develop environments for many people, but the individual is the building block – not the learning object, the course, the programme, or the institution. All of these are temporary organisations that the individual may use, or be part of.
I would also say that knowledge itself cannot be managed, and neither can knowledge workers; not effectively anyway. However, workers can manage data and information in order to develop their knowledge, and today we have several cheap and ubiquitous Web tools available to help us. It’s what I call Personal Knowledge Management (PKM), with an emphasis on “personal”.
In our day-to-day learning, one often repeated task is making the link from “this is an interesting idea” to “this is what I know”. The Web now provides us with an array of cheap and free tools to collect and collate information. PKM is a set of processes, individually constructed, to help the flow of implicit to explicit knowledge. However, PKM is more about attitude than any particular tool set. It’s taking (or rediscovering) our innately curious nature and tapping into it so that we can continue to expand our horizons.
One analogy of the Web is that it is a stream that we dip our buckets into from time to time. Another analogy is that of a surfer who follows the various streams and channels. It’s quite obvious that we cannot keep track of everything in nicely confined boxes with labels anymore. Even cataloging and indexing (taxonomies & hierarchies) are changing to a more flexible model of tagging or folksonomies on the Web, though the latter have their detractors.
If your work entails a need for current information, analysis, opinions or tapping into the knowledge of others, you probably need some form of PKM. If you have regular access to the Web, here is a suggested sequence:
- Start by moving your Bookmarks/Favourites on your browser to the Web. Social bookmarking services like Delicious or Furl let you create an online, searchable and shareable database of what you find interesting. Use tags (AKA categories or labels) to identify your saved pages and be liberal in their application. Here’s my Delicious list.
- Now start reading other sources of information in your field or in fields of interest. You can search for Blogs on Technorati or Bloglines. Once you are reading several sources you will need a way to organise these so that you’re not constantly going back to see if there is anything new. Use an aggregator. I would suggest Bloglines or Google Reader. Here is my Bloglines public account.
- Add your comments to blog posts of interest and if you make a lot of comments you might consider a comment aggregator, such as CoComment or Commentful. Bloglines Beta offers comment tracking as well.
What you are doing in these three steps is aggregating your information output and input, as well as adding information of importance to you (tags and comments). This process of sense-making is a great start to personal knowledge management. Some people have even more to say, and they usually become bloggers and podcasters, but that’s not for everyone.
Now that they’re all posted:
Here are the other Carnival posts hosted by Dave:
- Michele Martin at The Bamboo Project shares strategies for supporting personal learning environments, nicely tying together the “work at learning” (you have to hone your craft) with “learning at work”.
- Cathy Moore at Making Change explains how to fit the entire world into a multiple choice question. How can you require the learner to think more deeply about on-the-job implications of the information at hand?
- Janet Clarey writes on her blog about working at learning. And she does mean working.
- and my own contribution, SME? Not for Me, in which I ever so gently nudge people who design training, hoping to move them from subject-matter to practice.