I was recently interviewed by Bonni Stachowiak, host of the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast. The subject was my personal knowledge mastery framework which Bonni uses in her university teaching. You can listen to or download the podcast. Here are some lightly edited highlights of a very pleasant conversation with Bonni.
We can talk about knowledge bases and things like that, but for me, knowledge is that human sense making of experience, and exposure, and everything, and messy interactions, and feelings, and culture and all and all those kinds of things. And that’s really what knowledge is. Knowledge is the stuff that we use from which we take action. I use my knowledge to do whatever it is I’m going to do, to go to work, to make a decision, to do anything like that. Maybe it’s not a wonderful dictionary description of it, but it’s kind of a fuzzy place to start.
Sense-making is how do you take this stuff [knowledge] and then how do you actually do something with it so it changes your opinion, your perspective, your behavior? You’ve got to do something. Doing could be writing a blog post, that’s where you’re forcing yourself to put the stuff together, to write it, and to stick it out there in public. Doing could be having a conversation, and it’s good to do. Or public speaking, because when you present the stuff publicly, you can be criticized publicly. So you do your homework. One of the things I’ve learned from working with people is that everybody has a different way of doing their sense-making.
What I learned doing online group sessions with different platforms is the whole notion of putting yourself out there. But a lot of adults and our society has been all about getting the right marks, get the check mark, graduate and move on. For example, CEOs don’t want to be shown as being stupid or ignorant or anything like that, so they don’t venture out on that because they don’t want to look bad. Everything’s got to be massaged and perfect and things like that. For them, PKM is a messy thing. For instance, I call my blog the place where I put my half-baked ideas. You can’t bake an idea unless you get some half baked ones first, I think. That’s part of the sense-making too. And the more you do this, the better you get.
It’s the whole notion of knowledge flow as opposed to creating these fully baked products. And that’s the big challenge for a lot of people because they think they have to have the perfect PowerPoint ready for the boss to sign off on. As opposed to, I got like these 50 different things that, yeah they’re kind of crappy right now, but give me half a day and I can put them altogether.
I like your [Bonni’s] idea of talking to your future self. I think that’s a very good way of thinking about this. It’s like planting a garden — you’re not going to harvest it when you plant it.