Recent articles by Dave Pollard and Michael Angeles have gotten me musing more on this whole concept of Web logs, specifically Manila, as a KM tool for my school both externally and internally through an Intranet. One of the issues that we are currently taking a hard look at is not only the use of data to drive decisions (which is very difficult to get my right-heavy brain to grasp) but, more importantly, how to access the data once it’s available. As with the earlier post about learning objects, having a central repository for “knowledge” would make data retreival and study much more accessible.
The big picture here (and I do mean BIG) involves widely distributed creation of content by individuals that is then aggregated by “department” into a taxonomy of feeds that individuals can subscribe to depending on their “knowledge needs.” (I swear if someone had asked me to translate that sentence just a week ago…) In that way, you’re getting the information you want from whatever internal source is providing it. To do that, I’m thinking the organization would have to clearly define these “departments” and feeds beforehand, and each post, no matter who makes it, would be created in one of those departments. Now, how we aggregate all these individual department feeds into one BIG collective department feed for redistribution is something I’m not quite sure of, but I’m sure it can be done.
Of course, all of this depends on the willingness of individuals to participate, using tools that are transparent to the knowledge worker. Rarely have we used the words Manila and transparent in the same sentence. And as time stressed as people are already, it’s going to take some work to find the best way to market the concept that producing and sharing knowledge in this way benefits the organization and students. In fact, the faces I’m envisioning right now are downright scary.
Dave Pollard writes that Web logs as KM/filing cabinet are valuable because:
Much more knowledge is codified and available for sharing (including sharing with customers via Extranets) Knowledge is kept more current and complete The context of knowledge is more apparent and hence richer Knowledge is easier to find Less centralized Intranet management and technology is needed Evaluation of individuals’ contribution to organizational knowledge is easier to gauge Less effort is needed to persuade individuals to share knowledge Communities of practice can develop spontaneously and flexibly Peer-to-peer knowledge transfer (the most valuable kind in most organizations) is facilitated, and new knowledge is automatically ‘pushed’ to ‘subscribers’ on a timely basis
Great stuff, and all good in theory. But this is going to be a very, very long haul to get the horses to the water and then get them to take a drink. As I’ve said before, this direction represents a seismic change in how we do business. And I can guarantee that few if any of the administrators to whom I will be speaking have even heard of any of this stuff. Still, I’m feeling armed with some good thinking and a pretty clear idea of what can be done. Boiling this all down into a 30-minute “Big Picture Presentation” next week ought to be interesting…