Saturday, 9 June 2007

Every community of practice needs a focus

Something Caroline DeBrun from the National Library for Health (who runs the Talking Knowledge Management blog along with many other KM activities and sites) said in her presentation at the CILIP event yesterday has struck a chord with me.

She mentioned that she personally used blogs for reflection, and wikis for collaboration. I agree, that seems a sensible and effective use of both technologies, but what she said made me really think about potential activities a wiki would be perfect for, and which would facilitate knowledge sharing, particularly the sharing of lessons learned from the experience of project management.

It's becoming clear to me that what we (NHS CFH) are trying to gather and utilise, primarily tacit knowledge based on experience which is difficult to articulate, is nigh on impossible to collect with a blog. There may be many reasons for this, and it may not be true of all organisations or group blogs, but what I think might work is to focus more on faciliating community development via collaborate activity. This should in turn, increase community cohesion and encourage a culture of sharing.

Acknowledging that people really need to focus on activity which improves practice within their particular domain if they are to function as a community of practice, I think rather than asking people to write about their own experiences and lessons learned, we should ask them to collectively create guidance for others, using a wiki. This should draw out experiences and knowledge that they wouldn't offer up in iscolation on a blog. To a certain extent, it's getting them to share their tacit knowledge without knowing that's what they are doing. Crafty...

I can't believe I didn't think of that before...amazing what happens when you look up for a moment, look around, and listen to what others are saying.

Definately one for the recommended research section of the dissertation.


Rod said...

Interesting thoughts on the potential uses of blogs and wikis but there are a raft of Web 2.0 social networking tools which may overlap or fall between your two options.

This week I've been participating in a JISC funded project which aims to create a community of practice using elgg software see but has added a moodle site for chats forums etc see and elluminate for webcasting and (most difficult of the lot) second life for the social activities of the conference.

Each has functions in building the community & the "trust" you were discussing - but one thing I've definitely learnt is not to overload users with too many new bits of software to install and learn without plenty of notice!

Helen Nicol said...

Thanks for the tips on elgg software Rod.

And I agree, user overload is a real issue...maybe getting away from the "what it is" and focusing on the "what it does" functionality will help? I think we spend too much time trying to sell the platform at the expense of the output...