Unless you are exposed to people and information that show you what you don’t know, then it is very easy to keep plodding on with assumptions that are out-dated, ineffective or just plain wrong.
The more people and information we are connected to, the more we can learn.
The web empowers learning like nothing ever before in history if the opportunity is used effectively.
Did people learn and develop professionally before the internet existed? Well, yes. But…
Could they learn as much or as quickly as they can now, by interacting online networks? No. Absolutely not. Of COURSE not.
Without the global connections enabled by social media, networks were much smaller. And much knowledge was only available to certain people who were able to use their privileged position to maintain a position of power.
Knowledge is power. It was power to the few.
Look at the MASSIVE amount of information available online. For FREE. Think of the experts we can all follow and learn from. They can be informal mentors without us even knowing them.
We can all read blog posts and discussions on Twitter and LinkedIn. I can witness discussions between experts and their debates. They share references to things I’ve never even heard of.
They show me what I don’t know.
And then I can search for more information to follow up on those references. Because…
The availability of knowledge now offers power to the many.
However, a doubt is often raised about information overload and how it’s difficult to learn online because of this, that or the other ‘problem’. Lack of time, lack of digital literacy, lack of tech knowledge.
My answer is to follow a system like Harold Jarche’s PKM (Personal Knowledge Mastery): Seek > Sense > Share framework.
At a basic level, this involves filtering, curating and sharing.
- Get connected and develop a personal learning network.
- Develop strategies for filtering the content that you want to receive to learn from.
- Have a means of saving stuff for later and of saving really good stuff that you’ll need in the future.
- Get involved by sharing content online
- Don’t just share by passing things on. Add value to what you share by adding thoughts or analysis, creating connections, sharing experiences and asking questions.
By doing this, I learn every day from other people who share things. Every day someone shows me something I don’t know.
According to the poet Ibn Yamin Faryumadi, there are four types of men (OK, I’m sure we can change this to ‘people’, for a progressive 21st century audience).
The least capable of these people is:
“The one who doesn’t know and doesn’t know that he doesn’t know,
[He] will be forever lost in his ignorance.”1
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