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.
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