As I was preparing to start our online PKM workshop last night, I came across one of the best articles that I have read in a long while that reflects the value of what the PKM framework supports. Anne Adrian, in My own serendipitous opportunities, talks about her experiences in online sense-making.
In 2007 I started blogging with the intention of learning and trying to determine if blogging and other online tools could be useful for my organization.
I did not ask my organization, I just did it. At that time it could have ended badly for me because I was blind of what was possible. Blogging and connecting led to Google Analytics, Delicious, Flickr, Slideshare, Twitter, and now Google Plus. There are many applications that have been useful for a short while and then either their usefulness to me (not to all) died or they died (Google Wave, Buzz, Friendfeed). I quickly learned the value of open sharing which led me to Creative Commons, open source, open education, and open science.
“Chance favours the connected mind”, says Steven Johnson. Being connected creates enhanced serendipity. As Anne concludes:
Putting myself into places (online and physical places) where serendipitous discoveries can happen is not efficient, and of course, cannot be planned. Serendipity helped me discover people, concepts, and ideas that I would have never known before. Relationships–online, physical, mixed, new and old–and time and space are not easily planned. Serendipity does not map to set goals or plans. Instead serendipity has surprised me with energy, thoughts, knowledge, ideas, concepts, realizations, experiences, and relationships.
All of this makes no sense unless, as individuals, we engage in our networks and contribute what we have learned or are learning along the way. As Jane Hart mentioned to me in a Skype conversation today, the individual’s role in social learning is as important as the technology or getting people to collaborate. PKM is as much a life skill as a work skill. It is necessary for all knowledge work. It is a framework that can help to develop critical thinking, something often touted by educators, but seldom taught. To learn, we must do.