The PKM Masters Degree

I discovered this morning that Harold Jarche had written about how at Bangor University we had been teaching the Personal Knowledge Mastery (PKM) framework to students. As a ‘Psychology Information Technology Skills’ (PITS) tutor, I have played an important role in teaching PKM, and wanted to share a bit more about my experiences throughout the year.

We actually faced a few challenges in helping the students warm to PKM. It seemed that many could not see the reason why they had to do PKM, and also that many struggled to catch the vision of how to do it. A lot of students had expected higher education to involve memorising information to pass exams, as they had previously done in school. PKM did not have that same type of measurable outcome and many students would ask me what exactly it was they needed to do to pass the class.

However, a few did grasp it well. One student informed me that she kept a fashion blog, through which she had established a network with several clothing labels, who would send her free products to review. Other students ventured to find my twitter account, or to join Pinterest and Scoopit. Students who had used Pinterest previously were also quicker to grasp of PKM, perhaps because the way Pinterest users collect and curate content is similar to PKM’s seek, sense and share framework.

Perhaps PKM is the difference between higher education and that of the typical high school. That it was challenging to foster may be akin to the old adage that ‘you can bring a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink’. Indeed it is personal, because you do it for yourself. Nobody else is there to grade or assess you. If people don’t want to do it, that’s fine! However they may loose out as the knowledge economies adapt to future needs.

For research and knowledge based economies to work, they need to be more than just transferring information. It is the intrinsic passion and ingenuity that transforms information in to actions or solutions to problems. It comes from within, and that is why (beyond teaching the PKM framework) it can’t be forced. Some will do it and change the world, others won’t.

PKM as a Masters Degree

This takes me on to my second point: PKM as a masters degree. This last year, I took a class called ‘Science of Education’. It was an open ended, ‘autonomy supportive’ blogging module. We would go away, and do some research, and disseminate what we found through writing a weekly blog. Additionally, we would write five weekly comments on fellow classmates blogs, to academically critique their work. We would seek the information, sense what is being portrayed, and share our own ideas in relation to the content. With social media as the platform, each class member came away with their own blog: a portfolio of ideas and discussions, as well as links to original sources.

Bangor University have just agreed to expand the module into a masters degree, run as a MOOC (massive open online course). Students will be able to specialise their knowledge of the ‘scholarship of learning’ through blogging and participate in an online critical discussion. Participation is free and open, as will be the learning and knowledge management skills which are drawn from it. However, those who pay a course fee to the university may have their portfolio assessed and accredited. Students may then graduate from Bangor University with a post graduate certificate, diploma or a masters degree (the level of qualification depends on the number of modules completed).

I consider PKM to be a really exciting development in the way we handle learning and knowledge. It brings meaning and depth to the information we work with, and makes it both accessible and memorable. You might even say it turns information into knowledge. It doesn’t happen automatically, but with practise and involvement, I believe it can make a person very effective in their work. I am excited to see this program commence at Bangor University, as it is a brilliant development for both MOOC’s and knowledge based economy’s. This is a great step forwards for higher education practise and the scholarship of learning.


First Day Back

I’ve found myself at the computer in the short period before my first class of my third year, and I’m wondering what would be the best use of my time.

As I look back over my previous blog posts this year, I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on what went well, and what didn’t go so well.

The second year psychology syllabus is considered the hardest year of the three, because it contains a lot of content which is required to meet the British Psychological Society specifications. And I struggled with a lot of parts of it. Since in my own dissertation project group our paradigm assumed that large amounts of memorisation does not constitute proper learning. I think a few of the things I have written my have carried that frustration.

But now we have a fresh start, and I’m looking forward to studying some specialised modules this year which utilise new teaching methods. We’re also excited to see our social media in learning research take off. My goal this year is to score a first class degree, something I believe is attainable. I’m intending to achieve this through putting in the time to study, but also ensuring that the work I do is not wasted effort. I believe part of this will be worked through introduction of Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) (Jarche, 2013). I will be using twitter, wordpress and evernote to channel, record and index my thoughts, and to engage in the online discussion. Surely I also need to be wise in how I work to the grading criteria that has been set, but all this I hope will be quickened though reflective and synthesising pieces contained on my blog.

Personal Knowledge Management

This year I will be taking on a teaching role within the university. I’ll be teaching a class called ‘PITTS’. It’s an orientation course teaching the Apple interface, and then equipping students to use the internet for research and the production of well formatted APA documents.

A new addition to the course this year is ‘Personal Knowledge Management’, a component of the module in which we are going to try and teach students from day one of their degree to begin networking.

PKM is a concept that has been developed by Harold Jarche. The idea is that one builds ones own personal network, engineered entirely autonomously, to connect with those in a research discipline that excites you – the learner. This network of both people and documents grows over time and aides learning.

This blog is a form of my own PKM, which I have been doing on and off throughout my university time. But as I continue to write here, I am taking the information which relates to my own study, and am making sense of it, which advances my own personal learning far better than any memorisation ever could. If I extend that into using twitter or linkedin, or if I start following peoples’ blogs I am expanding my academic peripheral vision and making myself a more effective learner, and thus making my career more effective for both me and my employer.

I have spent a lot of time this year studying how the connected world has a holistic effect upon learning, in anticipation of the dissertation project I will be starting. I think it is a terrific idea to begin learners on this at as younger age as possible.