What is Personal Knowledge Management?

I’ve always banged on about the fact that we all need to be effective learners in the modern world but I never really had one good framework to help contextualise this discussion. There were all the learning in the workplace reports from various consulting companies and research institutes, there is the metacognition literature, systems thinking, complexity…all of it relevant but segmented. I think I may have found something that will help me out of my bind. It’s early days yet since I just stumbled across Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) but I really like it. I came across it on the blog of Harold Jarche from the Internet Time Alliance. I’ve been interested in the informal learning work from Jay Cross for a while now as well as Jane Hart’s social learning work and I came across Harold’s work recently.

PKM is basically a framework that helps us take control of our professional development and make sense of information and experience. It offers a nice way to better incorporate reflection-on-action in to our day-to-day without it feeling like we’re writing a journal that no-one will read and that we lose interest in after a few entries (mia culpa). Harold Jarche defines PKM as:

‘A set of processes, individually constructed, to help each of us make sense of our world, work more effectively, and contribute to society’

You can read more about Harold’s views on PKM here.  Harold is starting to move away from the term PKM and use Networked Learning more. While I like the idea of networks in learning I think I really like the actual term PKM as a descriptive term that is easy for the non-initiated to get their heads around.

The things that I really like about PKM are:

  • I already do a lot of these practices and feel very clever and smug about that (just being honest)
  • PKM is about personalising experiences and information in a world where we are bombarded with information 24/7. PKM is about sense-making not collating
  • PKM builds reflection into our learning and working thereby helping us to change and adapt more effectively as well as develop critical thinking skills (things very close to my heart)
  • “Knowledge” is an emergent property of the process
  • PKM is about people taking control of theirlearning, something that we do not often consciously do unless you’re a learning geek like me. It’s the development of conscious, regular activities from which can emerge new knowledge and insights

I love finding new things that inspire me and help explain the world.

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3 Responses to “What is Personal Knowledge Management?”


  1. 1 Harold Jarche October 10, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    I am glad that you find PKM and my thoughts on it useful. You note that I am moving toward the term “Network Learning” but that was a while back. Like you, I have found that PKM resonates with more people so I will keep using that term. Here is a post on learning in pharmaceutical research that may be of interest, considering your position:

    http://www.jarche.com/2012/03/distributed-research-needs-collaborative-researchers/

    Some additional pharma links here:

    http://www.diigo.com/user/jarche/pharma

  2. 2 Amanda October 11, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    Thanks very much for these references. Very useful!


  1. 1 My Personal Knowledge Management tools | A corn of wheat Trackback on October 11, 2012 at 9:22 pm

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