The art of cultivating a good Personal Learning Environment (PLE) really lies in the ability to work your own knowledge. When I talk about this kind of knowledge work, you might start thinking about knowledge management, which is similar in that it does develop a repository of knowledge, but it’s also different in that it’s more often than not decentralized. (We’ll talk about this more when we get to distributed cognition and transactive memory.)
Part of being able to work your own knowledge is being able to analyze what you know (or think you know) for gaps and misconceptions, and then fill in or adjust those gaps with credible information. This includes being able to determine what sources are best for your needs (regardless of their media type), and being able to quickly scan them for the bits of information that relate to your question or project, and then collating those bits of information into a resource that will benefit you.
Managing your own knowledge also requires at times being able to share your collated information with others. You may publish what you’ve learned in a format that best suits the material. You may find others interested in the topic and engage them in conversation, which in turn may help you develop further questions you want to pursue, deepening your own knowledge on the subject. You may also find conversations that not only challenge what you think about the topic, but enable you to look at it from other perspectives, also deepening your own understanding.
As true learning occurs when we deepen our relationship with a bit of knowledge, being able to successfully put your own knowledge to work is one of the most useful skills you can develop for yourself, which helps centralize your knowledge to yourself.