PKM: to learn is to do

I have called #PKMastery a swiss army knife for the network era because the concept is simple but the ways it can be used are almost limitless. Multinational companies, like Domino’s, are using the PKM framework for leadership development, ensuring senior staff improve their sense-making and media literacy skills. It is used in schools, universities, and by practitioners in many professions. While the concept of Seek > Sense > Share is relatively simple, developing mastery takes time. PKM is a discipline that requires practice.

A recent use for PKM is in supporting members of the Hearing First learning community:

“There is a solution for personal learning in the Digital Age: Personal Knowledge Mastery (or PKM). By incorporating PKM into our new age behavior, we’ll be able to accomplish the goals we have to improve ourselves and our listening and spoken language practice. You may have heard of personal knowledge management, but we don’t want to just manage knowledge. We want to master it.

The first step to personal knowledge mastery is the Seek-Sense-Share learning model. It was created by Harold Jarche, connected learning specialist, and it’s a concept that Hearing First supports for learning through our personal and professional networks. This learning model helps us make that data meaningful by being productive in our work and in the world of LSL.” —Hearing First

In complex environments of connected people and multiple relationships, there are no best practices. However, general frameworks like PKM can provide a common foundation upon which to build contextually appropriate emergent practices. Hearing First is an example that I could not have foreseen. It emerged through the work of the Hearing First Team, as did the positive mental health project. In both cases the initiative came from previous participants in my workshops. These are designed to provide some grounding in the principles, examples, and an opportunity to practice. Mastery comes afterwards, through deliberate practice.

I can help organizations and individuals get started, with structured workshops, examples, resources, or guidance. But they have to do the heavy lifting. The ‘P’ in PKM stands for Personal. If how we focus our learning is not personal, then we will not learn. Those in leadership positions need to model good learning behaviour. They cannot off-load the work to a consultant or a technology vendor. In all the examples I have cited, the initiators first worked on self-mastery and then developed practices for their organizations. To learn is to do.

Yesterday, while I participated in the CIEDO conference in Barcelona, Stephen Billett made an interesting comment about the word ‘apprentice’. It comes from ‘prendre’ which in French means ‘to take’. He said that in some languages, learning is likened to stealing. It is up to the learner to take the initiative. For social learning to be effective, the individual must first engage with a community of practice, and then take the learning that is needed. The core concepts of PKM are there to be taken. I am here to help when needed.


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