"Jean Lave, Etiene Wenger and communities of practice. The idea that learning involves a deepening process of participation in a community of practice has gained significant ground in recent years. Communities of practice have also become an important focus within organizational development and have considerable value when thinking about working with groups. In this article we outline the theory and practice of such communities, and examine some of issues and questions for informal educators and those concerned with lifelong learning."
"An effective suite of enterprise social tools can help organizations share knowledge, collaborate, and cooperate – connecting the work being done with the identification of new opportunities and ideas. In an age when everything is getting connected, it only makes sense to have platforms in place that enable faster feedback loops inside the organization in order to deal with connected customers, suppliers, partners, and competitors. It takes a networked organization, staffed by people with networked mindsets, to thrive in a networked economy."
"Eight years ago George Siemens coined the term ‘Connectivism’ to describe learning networks1 and has been generous enough to share it with me. This volume represents the bulk of my contribution to the field since then.
"Connectivism is the thesis that knowledge is distributed across a network of connections, and therefore that learning consists of the ability to construct and traverse those networks. An account of connectivism is therefore necessarily preceded by an account of networks. But the bulk of this work is devoted to tracing the implications of this thesis in learning.
"Yes, this could have been a shorter book – and perhaps one day I’ll author a volume without the redundancies, false starts, detours and asides, and other miscellany. Such a volume would be sterile, however, and it feels more true to the actual enquiry to stay true to the original blog posts, essays and presentations that constitute this work. Here is the abridged version of my philosophy, for those not wishing to read the 600 or so pages that follow:
"The scope of my work covers three major domains, knowledge, learning and community. Each of these represents an aspect of network theory: the first, examining the cognitive properties of networks, the second, looking at how networks learn, and the third, tracing the properties of effective networks. These also represent the processes of learning, inference and discovery in society writ large."
Jim Lerman's insight:
Downes is one of the deepest thinkers around on networked learning. This 600-page e-book is a compilation of a great deal of his writing. Published in 2012, I just came across it on his website. The book is a free download.
"Knowledge sharing is the corner-stone of many organisations’ knowledge-management (KM) strategy. Despite the growing significance of knowledge sharing’s practices for organisations’ competitiveness and market performance, several barriers make it difficult for KM to achieve the goals and deliver a positive return on investment.
This list of knowledge sharing barriers provides a helpful starting point and guideline for senior managers auditing their existing practices with a view to identifying any bottle-necks and improving on the overall effectiveness of knowledge-sharing activities."
"Whenever I read a book about knowledge management I am immediately transferred to a parallel domain where reinventing the wheel is a popular hobby, information overflows but no one is playing fish and people don’t readily share knowledge. Back on real ground, things are actually a bit different. So here´s my perspective on things:
If I could suggest a starting point, it would be identifying strategic knowledge. However, in order to do so, kmers must learn the business jargon and understand the primary business concerns; talk to people and identify how knowledge is being leveraged (it often is) so that you can also build from there. Adjust your toolbox and get started on culture right away."
"After seven years – the unavoidable and symbolic seven years – I have finally given up being a core group member of KM4Dev (Knowledge Management for Development), my favourite community of practice. But I haven’t given up getting involved, far from it. And because KM4Dev is one of the most fabulous examples of communities of practice, all that follows here might bear some useful lessons for your own communities and networks…"
"Last week I had the pleasure of providing my final virtual webinar for the first of the UN’s KM Online blended learning programme. Geoff Parcell and I have taken turns over the past 6 weeks. Last week the focus was on KM Strategy and Implementation, and we had an excellent interactive discussion about different options for implementation.
So with particular thanks to Eric, Harald, Svetlana and Miguel who added some great ideas - here are ten different options for KM Strategy implementation."
"Discussing successful knowledge management within an organization is something near and dear to my heart. It’s an area in which I’ve worked extensively over the years and have learned some key findings. At the end of the discussion, it’s not about which tool or platform you’ve adopted and are using within the organization. That’s 20 percent of the problem. The other 80 percent of the problem is you and your staff."
"We all know by now that there is no "one-size fits all" Knowledge Management framework, and that every organisation needs to tailor their own solution. However KM does come in different flavours, and if we understand those flavours, then we have a bit more guidance for that tailoring job.
Here is one way to decide on the flavour of KM that fits your organisational needs, and that is to consider the question ...
What Type of Knowledge will be your focus? Knowledge of what?"
From the development sector to the financial sector to the oil and gas sector, the AAR, with it's 5 questions, is the core tool for reviewing activity, understanding root cause, and determining action.
However the AAR is not always the ideal tool. It's structure is based around a review of activity, which is fine when you are in an industry where learning is about Activity and about Practice.
It does not work so well for learning about Product."
"A new model for work is required. Hierarchies, simple branching networks, are obsolete. They work well when information flows mostly in one direction: down. Hierarchies are good for command and control. They are handy to get things done in small groups. But hierarchies are rather useless to create, innovate, or change."
"It goes back a long while that I’ve been asking myself what KM is and why it matters. This morning, while running, it struck me: it is just what makes us more resilient, adaptive and innovative, beyond the immediate challenge we are facing. Incidentally, KM is also dangerous with that ability to catch all buzzwords in its trail (resilient is the new adaptive, and innovation is the talk of E-town)…"
"Why do children go to school to learn, rather than staying home and reading books?
Why, if you have access to the best cookery books in the world, do you still need to take personal tuition if you want to be a cordon blue chef?
If you have a street map in the car, why would you ever need to stop and ask for directions?
The answer, in every case, is that knowledge transfer is a social process, and if you want to transfer detailed knowledge you have to engage in conversation (specifically, in dialogue) with other human beings.
Dialogue allows you to ask questions, seek clarification, test understanding, and look for that "aha" moment when the knowledge is really transferred. Dialogue allows access to the deep tacit knowledge - the knowledge that people don't even know that they know - and it allows you to check whether you are really understood the knowledge."
It’s only in the last few years that I’ve come to appreciate(!) the connections between my world of KM and organizational learning, and the philosophical mindset which underpins Appreciative Inquiry.
Having facilitated a number of KM-related workshops using an AI, I can vouch for the positive engagement power of the approach. It’s still rooted in the reality of what we can learn from our own practice, but the conscious focus on what does it look like when we’re at our best gives a different kind of energy to the group, and expands their vision as to what is possible."
"You know your company has "made it" in KM when knowledge sharing is mentioned several times at the annual Analysts meeting.
That's a sign that Knowledge Management has been recognised at the very highest level in the organisation as a strategic support to operations. The challenge to you, as a Knowledge Manager, is to make this happen in your own organisation.
"What we did was we changed the idea of information, instead of knowledge is power, to one where sharing is power. It was the fundamental shift, not new tactics, not new weapons, not new anything else. It was the idea that we were now part of a team in which information became the essential link between us, not a block between us".
When General Stanley McChrystal started fighting al Qaeda in 2003, information and secrets were the lifeblood of his operations. But as the unconventional battle waged on, he began to think that the culture of keeping important information classified was misguided and actually counterproductive. In a short but powerful talk McChrystal makes the case for actively sharing knowledge.
"I want to invite you to try a visualization practice that I sometimes do with my students. Close your eyes for a second and see what image comes to mind when I say the word “knowledge.”
Do you have an image of something inside a brain or filling someone’s head? Or maybe books and computers, all with information on them? Some people might be thinking of teachers or friends that have taught them new information or ways of thinking.
Some people may not even think of individuals, but rather the networks or contexts in which we learn and create.
Each of these visions holds a very different conceptualization about knowledge. I want to invite you to consider that knowledge is not merely about facts and information inside our heads, but mainly about our social networks – and by social networks, I don’t just mean online networks, I mean, the relationships we build – face-to-face or online– with others in our world.
There are four ideas you need to understand in order to see this perspective."
"Imagine coming back home from work, calling the family into the living room, and urging everyone to collaborate more. Sounds odd, doesn’t it? Ever wondered what makes collaboration seem so natural at home but unnatural at work?
The answer: Purpose. Purpose is collaboration’s most unacknowledged determinant.
While it can be taken for granted within families, that’s not true of most organizations. “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work but rather, teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea,” pointed out Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the French writer and aviator, who wrote The Little Prince. "
"As one views the rapidly evolving landscape of innovation and/or knowledge management, there are terms (some new, some old) being bantered about to describe observed phenomena. The problem is that it is natural to apply meaning to words that have similar but quite different uses. This could be construed as splitting hairs, but I think it is really important to aptly characterize the meaning of words so that we can expand mutual understanding. To that end, this blog post attempts to define the various types of community/groups that work internal and external to the conventional institutional and enterprise environment."
"The quest to effectively share knowledge within a company is one that still appears elusive. How do you keep on top of your competitors’ developments? How do you monitor articles that mention your brand? How do you make sure your teams get the information they need to make decisions and to learn?
While we never had more ways to disseminate intelligence and knowledge within companies, it's easy to feel overwhelmed so that we're still often perceiving a lack of communication in the corporate world.
Here are easy-to-implement ways to remedy and make the enterprise smarter."