PKM: our part of the social learning contract

Why is social learning important?

It is becoming more difficult to make sense of the world by ourselves. Understanding issues that affect our lives takes significant time and effort, whether it be public education, universal health care or climate change. Even the selection of a mobile phone plan requires more than mere numeracy and literacy.  We need context to understand complex issues and this can be provided by those we are connected to. The reach and depth of our connections become critical in helping us make sense of our environment and to solve problems. Problem-solving is what most people actually do for a living, so doing it better can have widespread effects. With social learning, everyone contributes to collective knowledge and this in turn can make  organizations and society more effective in dealing with problems.

How does personal knowledge mastery relate to social learning?

PKM is an individual, disciplined process by which we make sense of information, observations and ideas. In the past it may have been keeping a journal, writing letters or having conversations. These are still valid, but with digital media we can add context by categorizing, commenting or even remixing it. We can also store digital media for easy retrieval. However, PKM is of little value unless the results are shared by connecting to others and contributing to meaningful conversations. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts as we build on the knowledge of others. As knowledge workers or citizens, PKM is our part of the social learning contract. Without effective PKM at the individual level, social learning has less value.


Image Source: iKnowlej Personal Knowledge Management

9 Responses to “PKM: our part of the social learning contract”

  1. Chris LaBelle

    Enjoyed this post. That we need to build a more robust and interconnected web of associations to more clearly understand and contribute to the challenges of our time seems understood by most. Whether or not the majority (or even a sizeable minority) of workers in our time are knowledge workers who associate some responsibility to a social learning contract of sorts is less clear to me. I do agree w/your basic premise here though that social learning is obviously all about contextual meaning making and the ecosystem that is our learning environment is much richer and meaningful when others are active and intentional participants. Any mobile phone bill translation consultants out there? lol…hard to believe these keep getting more difficult to understand.

  2. Daniel Bassill

    Good article. Challenge is to find ways to build these learning communities and support them with knowledge and collaboration tools. I focus on helping youth living in poverty connect with mentors and tutors in non-school tutor/mentor programs. For such programs to be available in hundreds of locations in big cities like Chicago, donors, volunteers, political people, etc. as well as program organizers, tutors and mentors need to have a common source of information and be using it regularly to address the problems of making programs available, attracting youth and volunteer participation, and influencing aspirations and behaviors. This link points to one section of information that we make available for this learning. Research concept map

    At this point the number of people using resources like this is limited because most people don’t know it exists, and those who are aware of it don’t find the time to spend learning, reflecting and networking what they know with others.

    If we can find ways to increase the numbers the ideas and benefits of networked learning and problem solving will become more apparent.


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