Friday, 27 July 2007

Friday Photo

My favorite plant in the my garden right now if my Crocosmia "Lucifer" - it has beautiful flowers and an exotic look...and obviously the bees love it (not much else flowering at the mo, guess they can't be picky!)

Cos I couldnt decide on which picture to post, there's two for the price of one...

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Wikipedia, community self-regulation and academic peer review

I've just been reading an interesting post by Seacat (Cass Nevada) demonstrating the machinations of the Wikipedia editing collective in relation to the entry on Enterprise 2.0, which has been through a long and intense process to ascertain whether the term really is "a dubious neologism".

Of Wikipedia, Seacat notes that
"The system works because it is incredibly porous. Input, output, the chorus of voices, the rag-tag team of determined editors, all keep the information and the channel incredibly vital and alive..."
Despite what I said about the term Enterprise 2.0 in a previous post, I feel for Andrew McAfee, who has experienced first hand the editing process for Wikipedia entries, which displays hugely energetic intellectual debate, and as he has recognised, isn't cuddly (see this Harvard Business School report for more on the whole episode).

George Siemans remarks on his blog that he has experienced a similar vetting process, this time by the academic community, who are making it difficult for students to reference his (in my opinion fabulous) book Knowing Knowledge.

He's been in conversation with Masters student who
"...stated that her panel felt that the theory of connectivism and the book Knowing Knowledge had not been subject to peer review."

No doubt I will suffer the same dilema as the aforementioned Masters student, as I have quoted widely from the book in my own dissertation, primarily in relation to the theory of Connectivism

I have no problem with this, as I feel I have a good case for including material not considered to have been peer reviewed, as I believe, as does George Siemans, that it is an outdated concept. I thoroughly agree the argument he makes in his post:

"Peer review plays an important role - it is intended to provide expert critical review of concepts and ideas to ensure quality and accuracy. I'm all for that. My primary concern rests with "privilege only" accepted view of peer review. The progressive advancement of educational attainment (see OECD's Education at a Glance 2006) indicates a society increasingly capable of engaging in complex dialogue. The throne of knowledge is now a seat available to many of society's members. As such, it's reasonable to assume that the opinions of even those peripherally engaged in a discipline can provide insight and value. I appreciate experts, excellence, and established processes. But I despair when the processes of validation inhibit, rather than advance, thinking and idea sharing in a discipline."

Referencing Knowing Knowledge and the theory of Connectivism might lose me marks but it's worth it to make the point. After all, I'm not studying to progress my academic career, but to improve practice in my chosen field.

I've also been warned against using definitions from Wikipedia, which is, as far as I'm concerned, a valid source for the current use of terminology around web 2.0 and associated concepts. Thanks again to George Siemans, who pointed out the rather wonderful Wikipedia page entitled Errors in the Encyclopædia Britannica that have been corrected in Wikipedia which says it all really...

As for the concept of peer review, maybe it's time the academic establishment recognised that communities of online users really do self regulate effectively and started to reconsider their "priviledged" stance...and if they could do it quickly, before my dissertation hand in date, that would be really great (I don't really wanted to be a martyr :-)

Knowledge sharing quote

Another knowledge sharing quote...quite an incentive!

"Share your knowledge. It's a way to achieve immortality."

Dalai Lama

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Knowledge sharing - what people really want

I held a workshop for Project Managers last to consult with them about a possible knowledge sharing process. It was a great success, with a fantastic buzz, and some interesting outcomes.
  • The general feeling was that talking to people who had previous experience of a related area was key.

There were many requests for a "facebook" type social networking facility, the emphasis being on speaking to people directly, rather than accessing materials which related their activities second hand.

There was also a desire for face to face networking opportunites, and telephone conferencing appeared to be popular, due to concerns that something was lacking in text based online communications.

The emphasis was very much on "at time of need" communications, and everyone agreed that building a network of potentially useful contacts was a good idea.

Many were requesting access to a repository of guidance and information, but by far the greatest emphasis was on the need to communicate directly. Very much along the lines of what George Siemens and Stephen Downes have been saying about Connectivism, that knowledge exists in the network itself, rather than in a knowledge repository, and those that attended the workshop echoed this ascertion.

It was a fantastic experience, to talk to so many people with so many opinions, and it really did confirm that we're on the right lines with Web 2.0, as long as we remember it's about people making use of technology, and not the reverse. As Jay Cross says in a recent post on the Internet Time community.

People, not technology, keep us from making our relationships at work more productive and fulfilling.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Knowledge management quote

Writing about the difficulties of sharing knowledge, and considering the intial attempts to "capture" knowledge in a repository, I came across this great quote by Jay Cross in his book "Informal Learning- rediscovering the natural pathways that inspire innovation and performance", which I thought really summed up the reason why the KM knowledge repository idea has failed.
“You can no more capture true knowledge in a repository that you can trap lightening in a box”.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Facebook - not as innocent as it seems

A month or so ago I received an innocuous invite from a friend to "join me on Facebook", so I did, innocently and without any understanding of the future impact of my action.

After wasting many hours trying to get a purple rabbit called Gerald to win his fight against various monsters, posting pictures of Sheffield flood carnage, ignoring people trying to turn me into a vampire, zombie, pirate etc, and flinging food and drinks and flowers at my friends, I've realised Facebook is just one big playground of mindless yet addictive applications. This rather sweet poem from David Bogner says it all really...

Facebook has gargantuan time-sucking powers, but what's worse, much worse, is that Facebook is now being used by employers to assess the potential suitability of job applicants. Mike Gotta points out that if information concerning protected characteristics (e.g., race, gender, or age) is disclosed and those being assessed by employers are not hired, they may find themselves on the wrong end of discrimination claims. David Lacey warns that employers might have grounds to demand ownership of their employees’ social networking information.

This is bad, as any prospective employer looking at my Facebook profile would think I was a mindless numpty with too much time on their hands and alot of mad friends who like to take pictures of people blowing rasberries (pretty good actually, check this one out...)

So consider this when you're in the middle of a virtual food fight - someone somewhere may be checking you out...and dismissing you as an idiot...

Friday, 13 July 2007

The return of the Friday Photo

This pic is of a fire-twirling man on Kho Tao, Thailand.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Yov Gov most hated Internet words

Reading the Metro on the train yesterday, I came across an article on the most hated internet words (which, Metro being a "mash-up" publication, probably came from China Daily).

The results of a YovGov poll found the most hated interent words included "Blog", "netiquette", "cookie" and "wiki".

The most hated internet words

  1. folksonomy
  2. Blogosphere
  3. blog
  4. netiquette
  5. blook
Cookie and wiki were ninth and tenth respectively

Makes me wonder if anyone actually likes any internet words...and if they don't like them, why use them? I feel a sociological paper coming on :-)

Social Networking video from CommonCraft

Stephen Dale drew my attention to another CommonCraft video, this time on Social Networking

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Online-offline crossover - Enterprise 2.0 post in print

I received an email from work colleague yesterday which said "I see you made it onto the back page of Information World Review." "Back page?" I thought, "websites don't have back pages?"

He informed me that the july/august printed publication of IWR had picked up a post (also picked up by Social Computing Magazine) on the human face of Enterprise 2.0, Enterprise 2.0 - same problem, different platforms, and included it in their The Best Bits of the Blogosphere section - flattery indeed! The starting point is Stephen Dale's post Librarians, where are you? from his Dissent blog, in which he challenged my ascertion that there were librarians out their involved in Web 2.0, and which elicited a cascade of comments from information and library professionals involved in social software (only slightly encouraged by me....)

What struck me was that this section from the printed publication is not online, and because of that, I was unaware my post had been picked up. I use technorati to check out who is linking to my blog. Printed publications of course, are not referenced in technorati. So once again, I've experienced a degree of crossover between online and offline worlds, which I've commented on previously in relation to work relationships and collaboration, The impact of blogging on offline relationships - Real Life 2.0 anyone?

It's a strange and fascinating world where you can write a quick post one morning and a few weeks later, find yourself on the back page of a journal - strange, fascinating and really quite nice....and it's a very good read, so I'll be subscribing from now on (maybe it was a really convoluted marketing ploy all the while :-)

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Capability building – where Enterprise 2.0 plays a part

This somewhat ranty post was born of a conversation about the difficulty of evidencing ROI for training and development - the particular conversation didn't include Enterpise 2.0, but it should have, so I've included it anyway.


The argument for a holistic view of learning which incorporates formal training, informal learning, knowledge sharing AND Enterprise 2.0
(forgive me the simplicity - this is a rant remember).

If you want someone to be able to do the job you pay them to do, they need to know how to do what they’re doing, or you’re paying out for no reason.

To get more than a return on current skills levels, to improve the skill base, or just to keep up with changes, you need to invest in people. This needs to be via formal training (the what) and informal training (focusing on the how).

Definition of formal training in this instance is directed, structured training, primarily classroom based, where a set curriculum is followed as required by the job function. For instance

  • Methodology training ie Prince2, MSP, ITIL
  • Principles training ie mentoring, negotiating, facilitating, dealing with difficult people,
  • Application/tool based training ie MS office, autoCAD, procurement system

This can be related to learning to drive – you learn to drive a car (methodology), pass your test, (certification), but you only learn to drive by doing it (practice).

According to the Institute for Research on Learning, formal training accounts for only 20 percent of on the job learning (Jay Cross 2006 “The Low-Hanging Fruit Is Tasty”, - or see informal learning, the other 80%). If this is true, understanding the other 80 percent, the practice, and cultivating informal learning to improve this practice in the most effective way, must benefit the workforce.

Cheetham and Chivers also support this, they state that

"…much of the learning required to attain full professional competence actually takes place after the completion of formal training. This conclusion highlights the critical importance of informal learning. However, the results also suggest that different individuals find different kinds of experience formative, and this should caution against being too prescriptive in respect of “best practice” learning methods.”

Cheetham and Chivers 2001

Therefore broadly speaking, professionals learn a degree of what they do from formal training, but the majority of their skills, knowledge and behaviour is learnt informally.

Any investment in the development of capability therefore needs to consider informal learning to a high degree, if what is discovered in formal training is to be translated into practice and improved competence, to gain a return on investment.

Formal training related to relevant situations
As Knowles and others have identified, adults learn most effectively when what they are learning relates to their environment. Training which relates to learners particular experiences is therefore vital if what is learnt is transferred into their work. This can be done by using case studies with direct relevance to the job of the learner – ie using case studies from that company to train Prince2.

Knowledge management
Sharing knowledge about how an issue was mitigated or a risk avoided reduces the likelihood of costly mistakes. Sharing experience which was in some way successful helps to improve competence. For instance, knowing that post go-live support can be reduced by 6 days by investing time up front to understand and communicate exactly who will do what in a business process is a valuable experience which, if shared, saves 6 days expenditure and improves the likelihood of change being accepted.

Knowledge sharing is therefore a vital component of learning about a role, and thus, increasing competence. Networks and communities of pratice, both offline and online, can help to share this knowledge.

Enterprise 2.0
Blogs, wikis, podcasts, RSS feeds, instant messaging, online conferencing, all these tools facilitate collaboration, reflection, sharing, and ultimately, learning, all important for the development of competence and capability required to achieve business objectives.

Mentoring and Coaching
Mentoring also is a way of enabling people to share experience and good practice, and to increase competence, and serves to help people develop their skills in the areas they need to develop, when they need to develop it – just in time learning.

Professional Development Networks
Professional development networks, workshops and masterclasses improve practice by enabling individuals in those networks to dictate the content of workshops when they need them, keeping work current and allowing individuals to share experiences and knowledge.

In conclusion...

You need both training and development to facilitate learning and to improve competency. You need both formal and informal learning initiatives, which incorporates knowledge sharing activity, to support people in their roles in achieving your business objectives.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Dissertation distractions

Running out of time to complete my dissertation, I realise that I'm having too much fun blogging, so have to focus focus focus on writing now...

I've discovered that a million things are actually have a priority over writing my dissertation, the top 5 being
  • Blogging (which is sort of writing my dissertation...)
  • How many people are reading my blog
  • How many things are happening that I can't go to because I'm writing my dissertation
  • Facebook (steals hours of life)
  • Considering my split ends
Posts are going to be sporadic, which is a shame, but such is life....

Monday, 2 July 2007

Critical reflection, knowledge sharing and the learning cycle

Having more or less given up on the concept of tacit knowledge, in terms of completely failing to discover a way of identifying demonstrations of tacit knowledge in blog postings, I've been examining reflection as an alternative route to identifying knowledge with value for the development and improvement of pratice.

In doing so, I remembered the good old learning cycle, developed by Kolb and utilised by Honey and Mumford in their work on learning styles...

Going back to Kolb, I started thinking about his learning cycle in terms of a community of practice, particulary in relation to the concrete experience element. How do people get to know about the experiences of others? Through sharing reflection.

To share experieince, one must have to some extent thought about it. In thinking about knowledge sharing, I've linked what Boud would call Returning to Experience to the 1st stage of Kolb's learning cycle, as this descriptive stage of reflection does not involve a critique, but is merely a description of what happened. To some extent, if we avoid the philosophical debate around knowledge, we can call this, or at least liken it, to explicit knowlege.

Moving onto the next stage of Kolb's cycle, critical reflection, we are considering the emotions and outcomes associated with the experience. This sounds to me something like tacit knowledge...and it's these elements of the experience that hold the utility of the practice - the stuff that we really should be sharing.

If critical reflection can be utilised by a group, they can more effectively validate any reflection, both at the descriptive level, but more usefully, at the abstract conceptulisation and active experimentation stages. This is a powerful medium for testing new outcomes and learning as a group from the experiences of individuals. Each individual thus gains more from the critical reflection of one person than that person alone.

Ideally then, the group learns more individually due to the groups multiple conceptualisations, experiements, reflections and experiences.

Unfortunately, this implies that we must

  • Learn to reflect, descriptively and critically, in terms of repeatable processes and procedures and potential new practice
  • Learn to articluate those reflections, by writing, conversation, networking
  • Learn to read, listen to, review and analyse those reflections in terms of our own practice
  • Learn to collaborate in our abstract conceptualisation
  • Learn to collaborate in our testing of hypotheses generate by our abstract conceptualisation

It's never simple is it...