Friday, May 7, 2021

Personal Knowledge Mastery Course with Harold Jarche: Reflections After the First Four Weeks

It's been almost two weeks since my last update about my experience in completing Harold Jarche's Personal Knowledge Mastery (PKM) course. During this period I've struggled to complete some of the suggested activities, despite avidly consuming the posts and related articles. That's not to question the relevance and importance of said activities; instead, my appetite for the course content, alongside my reluctance to apply what I have been learning, has given me pause. 

I returned to my original motivation for taking the course: to develop greater clarity, focus, and purpose in terms of what information I captured, how I captured it, and then what I actually did with it. I've been inspired to expand the scope of what I routinely consume to include more blog posts, newsletters, and podcasts. I still feel overwhelmed by the volume at times; that said, I feel much more confident that I'm expanding and deepening my perspectives on topics that interest me. 

I've tried using some of the tools recommended to facilitate the seek-sense-share model outlined in previous lessons (e.g., Feedly) while I'm hesitant to revisit my past use of others (e.g., Diigo, Pocket). None has stuck so far. Yes, I've expanded the number of sources of information I routinely consider but that's where I've hit the wall. I find many things interesting and worthwhile; the challenge then becomes, what to do with them?

For one, I've learned I can do a better job at staying current on issues related to my job. That's been a significant, positive outcome for me so far from the PKM course. I can see my learning curve is steep, without an end in site; my challenge has been (and will continue to be) identifying the best sources to keep me moving ahead on the path. On occasion I feel it's appropriate to share what I learn with my colleagues but by no means is there a steady stream of information in either direction. 

More broadly, as I noted in a tweet yesterday, I've discovered I'm motivated to learn when I have a specific purpose for doing so: a class I'm scheduled to teach, a workshop or webinar I'm scheduled to deliver, etc. I'm far less motivated, and tend to drag my feet, when I don't either have a clear deadline for a project (like for an article I'm writing) or a specific tangible, assured outcome (like teaching a class). For example, I've been inspired by the PKM course to return to the field of European history I studied as an undergraduate and graduate student many years ago. Yet that inspiration has yet to translate into consistent action. I'm not scheduled to teach a class in the field, nor do I have any other outcome associated with this learning experience. So I've come to the realization that I best put the interest aside, at least for now, until such an opportunity presents itself (i.e., either I make it happen, or it is presented to me via other unknown means). 

Yet I continue to face the challenge of what to do with information I find that may either relate to something I'm working on now or could relate to a future project--but which I don't use or need right now. I hope to make some progress on this front over the next few weeks, by revisiting the lessons I've learned in this course. 

Indeed, as Harold Jarche noted in his lesson entitled "Seekers and Catalysts," learning on one's own can be difficult and lonely. That's especially true for me given that my primary learning mode for much of my life has been solitary, i.e., read the books, articles, etc., then write the paper, deliver the speech, etc. Overcoming that mindset has been difficult, even given the inspiration the course provides. I feel like I've tried many times over the years to foster the kind of professional and social connections to make a more collaborative learning effort possible, but even so I've been stymied in this arena more than I feel like I've made much progress. I can't put my finger on who exactly my "fellow seekers" would be at this point in my life as I often feel my professional journey is far too convoluted to make it anything other than a solitary trip. But I haven't given up entirely. In the past few months I've uncovered renewed energy for fostering such connections via Twitter (thanks to this course) and in a professional organization's special interest group I joined earlier in the year. So I remain hopeful.

What I've been longing for for a long time--for my entire career, in fact--has been a sense of community. A place where I can be myself. A forum for sharing my ideas, getting feedback on them, and receiving support, guidance, and even "tough love" at times (which I know I need at times, as much as I resist it). Whether what I'm looking for incorporates PKM's concepts of "challenging assumptions" and "sharing complex knowledge," I'm not totally certain. But I believe that's my personal holy grail here and it enables me to acknowledge my own resistance, while at the same time pledging to see the process through to wherever it takes me.  

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