From Learning Management to Personal Knowledge Management

“If you look closely at people who are succeeding in this new digital world of work, you’ll notice they have something in common: they’re fast learners and they’re willing to adapt. If you want to grow as a person and a worker and if you want to gain skills that will help you take that next step in your career, you’ll probably have to learn those skills on your own.

In the post-recession workplace, your company probably isn’t going to send you to a conference so you can learn that new skill that will make you an even more valuable employee … Your boss probably doesn’t have time to hold your hand as you figure out how to use a new tool that will make your team more efficient. And it’s unlikely you’ll be encouraged to spend your workday focusing on forward-looking, innovative projects that will really help you grow.

This is a quote from a recent article in Lifehacker, Three ways to learn something new.

But in fact it has been clear for some time that many individuals are already taking responsibility for not only acquiring new knowledge and skills but for a wide range of activities for their continuous learning and professional development.  All of which has now become possible due  to the availability  of an ever-increasing number of instructional and informational resources as well as social tools, together with easy access to huge numbers of people in social networks and online communities.

I have referred to these autonomous, self-managed learners as “smart workers” in a number of blog postings and articles I have written, but to summarise very briefly, here are four significant things they are doing:

  1. Keeping up to date with what’s happening in their industry and profession – e.g. though blog or aggregated feeds and curated content, etc
  2. Acquiring new knowledge and skills – e.g.  in webinars, online workshops, MOOCs, and through videos and screencasts, etc
  3. Sharing knowledge (and experiences) – within a trusted network of colleagues (aka a PLN (Personal Learning Network) or PKN (Personal Knowledge Network)
  4. Finding solutions to their own personal performance problems and/or improving their own productivity – through quick and easy access to on-demand resources and by constantly reviewing the tools in their personal toolkit.

But there’s more to it than just using Twitter or Facebook! The most effective workers are using Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) techniques, to manage this process and get things done. Here’s a short presentation by Harold Jarche that explains PKM and his Seek-Sense-Share PKM framework.

So whilst most organisations focus on training their people for specific jobs within their own organisation, ensuring they remain compliant and meet statutory regulations, and managing the whole process,  the real learning of most knowledge workers is taking place outside the organisation in their own “personal knowledge management”.

PKM skills are becoming the vital new skills for today’s knowledge worker, as it is now up to everyone to take responsibility for their own personal development and learn continuously.

Good PKM skills and deep immersion in social media will also be prime skills for future learning professionals as they begin to support more social and self-managed approaches to learning within their organisation, since they will underpin the work they will do – and I will talk about this more in my next post.

So how effective are your own PKM skills? How well are you exploiting social media tools and networks for your own professional development?

In the first two online workshops in our new schedule at the Social Learning Centre we are going to be focusing on these two topics, so do come and join Harold and me, or let your colleagues know about them, if you feel they could do with some support in these areas.

Our online workshops take place in a private group space where the focus is very much on sharing the experience with others on the workshop. Here are the links to where you can find out more about these two initial workshops and how to sign up.

» 1-30 September : Personal Knowledge Management led by Harold Jarche

» 1-31 October : Social Media for Professional Development led by Jane Hart