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Knowledge Sharing

  1. he pressure to transform our institutions of learning continues. Virtu- T ally every enterprise and institution is grappling with the disruptions and opportunities caused by Web-enabled infrastructures and prac- tices. New best practices, business models, innovations, and strategies are emerging, including new ways to acquire, assimilate, and share knowledge. Using technologies that are already developed or that will be deployed over the next five years, best practices in knowledge sharing not only are diffusing rap- idly but will be substantially reinvented in all settings: educational institutions, corporations, government organizations, associations, and nonprofits. But in- stitutions of learning are in a unique position to benefit from an added oppor- tunity: providing leadership in e-knowledge. Donald M. Norris is President, Strategic Initiatives, Inc. Jon Mason is Executive Consultant, limited, and Assistant Director, Educa- tional Technology Standards Australia. Robby Robson is President and Senior Partner, Eduworks Corporation, and chair of the IEEE Learning A REVOLUTION IN Technology Standards Committee. Paul Lefrere is Executive Director E-learning, Microsoft EMEA, and Professor of E-learning, University of Tam- pere, Finland. Geoff Collier is CFO and Senior Partner, Eduworks Corporation. KNOWLEDGE 14 EDUCAUSE r e v i e w By Donald M. Norris, Jon Mason, Robby Robson, Paul Lefrere, and Geoff Collier September/October 2003 SHARING © 2003 Donald M. Norris, Jon Mason, Robby Robson, Paul Lefrere, and Geoff Collier Photo by Garry Landsman, © 2003 September/October 2003 EDUCAUSE r e v i e w 15
  2. E-knowledge finds expression in many all kinds. They will support a “Knowledge professional guilds. True, there has al- shapes and forms in a profoundly net- Economy” based on creating, distribut- ways been academic collaboration, but worked world. It is not just a digitized ing, and adding value to knowledge, the there is little systematic sharing of learning collection of knowledge. E-knowledge very activities in which colleges and uni- content, context, and supporting materi- consists of knowledge objects and knowl- versities are engaged. Yet few colleges and als. When asked about it, many faculty re- edge flows that combine content, context, universities have taken sufficient account spond, “Why would I want to share and insights on application. E-knowledge of the need to use their knowledge assets course materials and content with any- also emerges from interactivity within and to achieve strategic differentiation. one?” Similarly, knowledge generated by among communities of practice and from In “IT Doesn’t Matter,” a recent article research activities often stays within a lab- in Harvard Business Review, Nicholas G. oratory or research team and rarely Carr endorsed corporate leaders’ grow- crosses disciplinary boundaries. In most ing view that information technology of- academic settings, knowledge resides in fers only limited potential for strategic archipelagos of individual knowledge differentiation.1 Similar points are start- clusters, unavailable for systematic shar- ing to be made about e-learning, and ing. Yet such defiance of the networked knowledge management has been under world will soon be unsustainable. fire as ineffectual for some time. The It is the challenge of institutional lead- truth is that IT, e-learning, and knowl- ership to get faculty and staff to reflect on edge management can provide strategic the nature of knowledge and on how differentiation only if they drive genuine knowledge can be understood and shared E-knowledge is technologically realized by the fusion of e-learning and knowledge management and through the networking of knowledge workers. the troves of tacit knowledge and trade- innovation and business practice changes in different ways. Knowledge can be craft that can be understood only through that yield greater value for learners. Carr’s modeled as a “thing” and a “flow” at the conversations with knowledgeable practi- article provoked a host of contrary re- same time. It is a static resource—a snap- tioners. E-knowing is the act of achieving sponses, including a letter from John shot, if you will—and a dynamic flow be- understanding by interacting with indi- Seely Brown and John Hagel III. Brown is tween the various states of the known and viduals, communities of practice, and well-known for his insights into the ways the unknown. Knowledge flows between knowledge in a networked world. E- in which knowledge sharing can provide tacit (subjective) and explicit (objective) knowledge commerce consists of the transac- organizations with a solid basis for strate- states; it often exists in transition between tions based on the sharing of knowledge. gic differentiation.2 In this article, we the two; and it also exists in symbiosis, These transactions can involve the ex- argue that knowledge sharing—if it combining these two dimensions. How- change of digital content/context and/or sparks innovation, changes in organiza- ever, much of the classic knowledge man- tacit knowledge through interactivity. tional dynamics, and new sources of agement literature, in identifying these Transactable e-knowledge can be ex- value—can also make the difference in two dimensions, still tends to treat knowl- changed for free or for fee. E-knowledge is academia and e-learning.3 edge more as a thing (knowledge-as- enabling not only the emergence of new resource). Current thinking places best practices but also the reinvention of Reflecting on the greater emphasis on the emergent quality the fundamental business models and Nature of Knowledge of knowledge, as it is realized through strategies that exist for e-learning and It is remarkable how unreflective many practice and knowledge networking.4 knowledge management. academics and educators are about the There is no simple, linear hierarchy E-knowledge is technologically real- nature of knowledge, outside of their im- and progression from data to information ized by the fusion of e-learning and mediate domains of interest. To be sure, to knowledge. In reality, there is a com- knowledge management and through the they hold some types of knowledge in plex intermeshing, such as a continuous networking of knowledge workers. Trans- high regard, and they respect the highly churning of insight, the meaning of which actable e-knowledge and knowledge net- personalized knowledge that academics changes in different contexts and through working will become the lifeblood of and practicing professionals have accu- conversations with different participants. knowledge sharing. They will create a vi- mulated. But academic knowledge sub- That’s not to say we don’t need to model brant market for e-knowledge commerce stantially remains a “cottage industry,” and understand the distinctions between and will stimulate dramatic changes in with both tacit and explicit knowledge data, information, and knowledge. Infor- the knowledge ecologies of enterprises of the purview of isolated craftspeople and mation is data that has been organized in 16 EDUCAUSE r e v i e w September/October 2003
  3. such a way that it achieves meaning in a It is revealing to view knowledge Understanding the Role of generalized way. Knowledge is informa- through the different lenses of “know Transactable E-Knowledge tion presented within a particular what,” “know who,” “know how,” “know and Knowledge Networks context, yielding insight on application why,” “know where,” “know when,” and From the start, we have understood the in that context. But the progression “know if”: importance of interoperability as a prin- from one to another is continuous ciple that is fundamental to networking rather than intermittent and discrete. As ■ Know What: knowledge manage- and the development of learning object Thomas Davenport and Sirkka Jarvenpaa ment, knowledge management sys- and knowledge object marketplaces. In- note, “Our distinction between data/ tems, information structure, seman- teroperability is also key to shared under- information and knowledge conveys that tics, e-learning standing. From a systems perspective, the source of value does not arise from ■ Know Who: networks, authorities, in- four points of enterprise interoperability possessing the information source, but dividuals, practitioners, collaboration are needed for colleges and universities from acting on it in a context of a specific ■ Know How: networking, consulting, to share knowledge objects and net- meaning at a specific time.”5 collaborating, sharing, researching, re- worked knowledge: Brown and many before him have ar- flecting, developing, testing, maintain- gued that knowledge is a social construct. ing, doing, learning, educating, train- ■ Description, discovery, and ex- People can understand information indi- ing, innovating, managing, navigating change of content: Content must be vidually and in isolation. However, ■ Know Why: context, business plan- described and accessed in standard- knowledge—even the abstractions of ning, strategy, reasons to learn ized and interoperable ways. mathematics—can be understood only in ■ Know Where: where-to, where-from, ■ Interaction with and tracking of context, which means through interactiv- strategic positioning, planning, content: When users interact with ity and communication with others. In- reflecting content—for example, when they take teractivity and knowledge sharing not ■ Know When: timing, pacing, plan- a course, complete a quiz, or annotate only are integral to “knowing” but are es- ning, scheduling, context, just-in-time an article—the results must be tracked sential for continually evolving knowl- ■ Know If: scenarios, scenario develop- in ways that are independent of the edge to new plateaus of meaning. As Al- ment, foresight, contingency, just-in- technology platform being used. fred Beerli asserts, “Knowledge can be case ■ Applications system interopera- regarded as the only unique resource that b i l i t y : Te c h n o l o g i e s u s e d f o r grows when shared, transferred, and Much of our traditional, explicit e-knowledge must have standard- managed skillfully.”6 knowledge deals with “know what,” ized interfaces to enterprise systems People experience and act on knowl- though training has expressed this more such as human resources and regis- edge in a host of different ways. When often as “know how.” But most Knowl- trar systems. preparing our book Transforming e- edge Economy enterprises are focusing ■ Infrastructure interoperability: Knowledge, we referred to the “acquisition, more attention on tacit knowledge and Technologies used for e-knowledge assimilation, and sharing of knowledge.” insights revealed through interaction, must use industry-standard methods This was a code for the range of knowl- collaboration, and innovation. Much of to interface with institutional IT infra- edge skills that are needed to succeed in this tacit knowledge exists and is commu- structures and with each other. the Knowledge Economy. But in practice, nicated through conversations in com- knowledge use is much more compli- munities of practice or networks of prac- Observing emergent knowledge prac- cated than that and includes interpreting, tice. Such “know how,” “know who,” tices has led us to rethink the nature of reflecting, creating, applying, realizing, “know where” knowledge promises to be learning and its supporting knowledge understanding, associating, recognizing, increasingly important. The knowledge base. Learning and the development and repurposing, and enhancing knowledge. networks and communities of practice use of knowledge are not separable, In a pervasively networked world, in- that specialize in such tacit knowledge standalone activities. In the networked dividuals are part of intersecting net- will most certainly be the epicenters of world, perpetual processes of learning works of interest and communities of the Knowledge Economy. are supported by vast, accessible, contin- practice. Knowledge becomes tangible as Higher education should consider uously changing resources of explicit and digitized content, as context that can be these lenses as it debates the scope of tacit knowledge. E-learning and knowl- digitally shared, and through direct and knowledge needed to support learning edge management become fused in prac- indirect interactions. Knowledge can be and practice. Reflecting on the nature and tice. Both are essential to everyone in an created by asking a question and watch- facets of knowledge initiates a progres- educational institution, not just to spe- ing the responses provoke cascading con- sion from the question “How have I come cialists or technologists. Moreover, their versations, responses, and interactions to know X?” to “How do I share X?” An- fusion remedies the inefficiencies of in- among network participants. The net- swering these questions constitutes tak- stitutional silos. worked world continuously refines, rein- ing steps toward understanding the role In higher education today, pioneering vents, and reinterprets knowledge, often of transactable e-knowledge and knowl- efforts are under way to capture digital as- in an autonomic manner. edge networks in knowledge sharing. sets in shareable knowledge objects. Our September/October 2003 EDUCAUSE r e v i e w 17
  4. Table 1. E-Knowledge: Today and Tomorrow perspective on the potential of these knowledge objects is detailed in “Share TODAY: TOMORROW: and Share Alike: The Knowledge Transfor- Proof-of-Concept of Developing mation Comes to Campus.”7 Today’s trans- Transactable E-Knowledge E-Knowledge Commerce actable e-knowledge tools and practices are essentially proof-of-concept efforts. • Learning objects capture content • Knowledge objects capture content They are a first step, not an accurate har- and context but are largely distinct and context independently, plus binger of things to come. Three to five from developing knowledge notes and automated updates, and years from now, genuine e-knowledge networks. will align closely with knowledge commerce will be developing. The nature networks. of tomorrow’s knowledge objects and in- stitutional practices will likely not resem- • Learning objects are oriented toward • Knowledge objects and access to ble today’s first generation of learning ob- explicit knowledge. knowledge networks provide jects (see Table 1). channels to both explicit and tacit Today’s proof-of-concept efforts will knowledge. enable the development of more robust perspectives, tools, policies, and prac- • Early-stage standards focused on • Standards, tools, and processes are tices. At the same time, new deployments data exchanged among systems. substantially more sophisticated, of pervasive, ambient technology are pragmatic, and useful. Standards likely to accelerate and shape the future focus on information, not just data. of e-knowledge. • Knowledge networks and • Knowledge networks and commu- Changing the Knowledge Experience communities of practice are nities of practice are the epicenters The development of wireless communi- inadequately recognized in of tacit knowledge creation and cations is enabling technology-rich envi- organizations. sharing. ronments in which individuals can carry networked digital devices like notebook • E-learning and knowledge • E-knowledge resources and computers, PDAs, cellular phones, management resources evolve networks are dynamic and churning. pagers, and a myriad of converging tools independently and begin to that open new opportunities for commu- intersect. nication and knowledge sharing. More- over, pervasive computing is creating • Learning objects are relatively • Automated capture and update environments in which ubiquitous com- expensive to capture, create, and protocols create knowledge objects puting devices are being embedded in update. Learning objects are that are substantially less expensive everything from automobiles to offices to handcrafted. (order of magnitude). Knowledge clothing to appliances to whiteboards objects are generated autonomically. and other displays. Coupled with emerg- ing voice-recognition and display tech- • Learning objects are drawn from • Knowledge objects and nologies, these developments have the traditional sources of academic conversation-born tacit knowledge potential to turn every kind of public and content. are assembled from a wide range of private space into a venue for digitally en- sources, ranging from traditional abled knowledge sharing and learning. sources to individual blogs and Our team examined forecasts and fu- communities of practice. ture scenarios prepared by technology futurists in Europe, North America, and • Enterprise routines are not yet • Enterprise processes for accessing Australia.8 These projections suggest that established for creating, updating, knowledge networks and for by 2010, the patterns of interactivity and and repurposing learning objects. knowledge object creation, updating, the very manner in which we experience and repurposing are routinized and knowledge will be enriched. At an accel- have achieved amenity. erated, turbulent pace, everything about the knowledge experience will change, • Digital rights management is about • Digital rights management is about including the places in which we can enforcing copyrights and licenses, enabling people to both share experience knowledge, the intensity of thus protecting ownership and knowledge and share its control. our engagement with knowledge sources, “building a moat” around the time sequence for accessing knowl- intellectual property. edge, our expectations about knowledge timeliness, our reliance on intelligent 18 EDUCAUSE r e v i e w September/October 2003
  5. Evolving a knowledge ecology poised for success in the Knowledge Economy is among the greatest challenges confronting institutional leadership. agents, our ability to multitask knowledge of pervasive, ambient technology envi- vestments in their capabilities for pro- streams, and the amenity of the knowledge ronments and what these will mean for cessing knowledge through deploying experience. These changes will accelerate the experiences of learners, faculty, staff, enterprise resource planning (ERP) sys- the demand for e-knowledge and for re- and other stakeholders, both on and off tems, enterprise portals, data warehous- liance on knowledge networks in a variety campus. How will such environments af- ing, course management systems, learn- of forms and formats. They will further fect the construction of new facilities? ing management systems, and some boost the demand for e-knowledge com- The retrofitting of existing facilities? content/knowledge management tools. merce of many kinds. Campus master planning? The relation- In “The Afterlives of Courses on the Net- Examples of such smart environments ship between campus environs and work: Information Management Issues can be seen today at Xerox’s PARC, at nu- other settings? for Learning Management Systems,” Clif- merous corporate and academic sites, and These developments will both enable ford Lynch captures how learning man- in various demonstration settings. The and require colleges and universities to agement systems are forcing institutional movie Minority Report provided a stun- change their basic knowledge ecologies if they leaders and technology vendors to con- ning dramatization of how individuals in are to remain attractive to learners. These front some of the issues relating to the the mid-twenty-first century may be able transformations will include not just in- afterlife of knowledge assets contained in to use pervasive knowledge environ- frastructures for interactivity and knowl- courses.9 ments to engage and manipulate a virtual edge sharing but also the basic processes, But there is more to knowledge re- avalanche of information and knowledge structures, competencies, and cultural be- sources than courses. Digital asset man- in pictorial, text, graphical, and audio liefs and practices relating to the use and agement is receiving attention from many forms. Most of the technologies neces- sharing of knowledge. Our team con- institutions, encompassing the full range sary to implement such capabilities al- cluded that evolving a knowledge ecology of institutional knowledge assets in learn- ready exist or are under development. poised for success in the Knowledge ing, research, practice, and public service. When pervasive knowledge sharing Economy is among the greatest challenges Leading institutions are creating infra- and perpetual learning do achieve confronting institutional leadership. structure for knowledge repositories amenity, they will become a fully inte- and/or “superarchives” (e.g., Ohio State grated aspect of daily life. They will be Transforming the University’s Knowledge Bank, MIT’s absorbed into our day-to-day routine. Knowledge Ecology DSpace, the Fedora Project, and the Uni- Educators and practitioners need to be Over the past decade, higher education versity of California system’s Scholarship more reflective about the development institutions have undertaken major in- Repository). Cross-enterprise efforts are September/October 2003 EDUCAUSE r e v i e w 19
  6. popping up all over the world (e.g., MER- LOT, the Learning Objects Network, The Le@rning Federation in Australia, and eUniversity in the United Kingdom). Ini- tiatives such as the Open Knowledge Ini- tiative (OKI) and MIT’s OpenCourse- Ware (OCW) are tapping into latent support for an open-source approach to e-knowledge and e-learning and the sharing of knowledge assets. Taken to- gether, these approaches herald the de- velopment of genuine marketplaces for areas, and special-interest groups in pro- e-content and context and knowledge fessional societies. Multi-institutional networks, supporting the exchange of e- consortia also are part of the equation. knowledge, sometimes for free and some- The Boston Consortium, a group of thir- times for fee. teen institutions in the Boston area, in- Most institutions have been tinkering volves over four hundred administrative with aspects of their knowledge ecosys- staff in nearly twenty working groups that tem, not truly transforming their capacity define and solve issues using a commu- to share knowledge. Knowledge is still nity of practice model. Soon these nas- primarily embedded in individual faculty c e n t k n o w l e d ge n e t wo rk s c a n b e and researchers, texts and course materi- equipped with the next generation of als, and traditional publications and jour- tools, perspectives, and practices for nals. Faculty, learners, staff, and practi- knowledge sharing. When that happens, tioners do not substantially utilize the their performance will be poised to in- potential of knowledge networks and crease dramatically. communities of practice to interact. Over Our team studied examples of institu- time, e-knowledge can change all this. It tions and enterprises that are building to- will do more than merely improve the ef- morrow’s knowledge cultures based on ficiency of the existing channels and in- “enter once, use (and trust) anywhere” teractions for knowledge sharing. E- principles for knowledge reuse and with knowledge enables the unbundling, the goal of dramatically reducing the costs deconstruction, and reinvention of all of of digital knowledge. A few examples of the knowledge elements and patterns of emerging or prospective e-knowledge interactivity associated with learning, re- cultures can be found at the University of search, and other institutional functions. Southern Queensland in Australia, eUni- The capacity to deploy e-knowledge will be versity in the United Kingdom, and the accelerated over the next few years by new American Society for Training and Devel- enterprise infrastructures, portals, Web opment (ASTD) and the Advanced Dis- services, new kinds of knowledge manage- tributed Learning (ADL) initiative’s co- ment applications, and community- labs in the United States. Companies like building technologies. Both academic and Knowledge Media Inc. (KMI) are utilizing administrative processes will be loosely automated tagging and knowledge-object coupled and deconstructed. New tech- creation, in conjunction with activity- nologies and practices will support the based costing, to drive down the cost of emergence of a seamless web of interoper- digital knowledge. able applications for dealing with knowl- Where does value reside in colleges edge and knowledge-based interactivity. and universities? It is waiting to be The new knowledge-sharing ecology released in the interstitial spaces between will ground itself in collaboration, com- processes, programs, and people. In the munities of practice, and knowledge net- Knowledge Economy, enterprises are works. These are starting to emerge in the finding new ways to release value through form of user groups for major ERP and leveraging knowledge, reinventing learning management systems, imple- process, collaboration, and community mentation teams for campus technology building, and developing staff capabilities projects, institutional working groups in and new kinds of leadership. Leading- administrative and academic support edge practitioners are demonstrating that 20 EDUCAUSE r e v i e w September/October 2003
  7. the key to establishing competitive ad- can also access a wider range of resources— These examples only hint at the po- vantage lies in changing their organiza- from standard searchable course reposi- tential for changes in the learning experi- tional dynamics in a way that creates tories to question/answer capabilities to ence. When a vibrant marketplace of greater value for customers, members, interactivity with other students, with knowledge networks and e-knowledge learners, and other stakeholders. question/answer resources, and with in- exists, providing immediate access to Our team used the concept of value on dividual members of a faculty team. continuously updated knowledge as an investment to explore the implications of Equally profound, changes in organi- expected amenity, learners will demand knowledge shar- zational dynamics and the knowledge learning experiences and supporting ing for institu- ecology can reshape the basic relation- resources to be engaging, interactive, par- tional competi- ship between learning providers and ticipatory, and immediate. The dynamics tive advantage.10 learners. Consider the example of of graduate and professional education To be sure, there NextEd and other learning enterprises at- and the continuing, perpetual develop- is value in en- tempting to serve the emerging learning ment of professionals will likely include hancing produc- market in Asia. NextEd is brokering offer- more and more cascading conversations, tivity of existing ings from learning providers, using its group problem-solving, and synthesis of practices by on-the-ground relationships maintained new practice. These will be supported by using knowledge through learning centers across China. continuously changing collections of sharing to share With this model, lower-cost solutions are fresh insight. For example, the Urban text, course-pack being found that can eventually spread to Land Institute has prototyped a model for materials, class markets in Europe and the Americas. practitioner-driven problem-solving that In a world of ambient technologies, pervasive knowledge networking, and multitasking learners, the dynamics of learning experiences must change to provide value to new generations of learners. notes, and other existing collections of Consider also the Creative Commons will revolution- course-support materials. Doing so trims (, a ize the way urban costs and may result in a better, more cur- movement that facilitates the sharing of land develop- rent selection of materials. It may improve knowledge by allowing authors to license ment is taught in the learner’s experience. But the real pay- their works in ways that do not prevent graduate school offs come from reinventing the processes intended uses (such as free distribution and in practice. and patterns of interactivity relating to for noncommercial means) while protect- Even undergrad- learning. We found new best practices, ing authors from unintended abuses uate education business models, and strategies for learn- (such as unsanctioned alterations). and introductory ing and knowledge management emerg- K n o w l e d ge s ha r i n g c a n e n abl e baccalaureate ing around the globe. All used innovation knowledge producers to reach markets courses need to to enhance their value proposition. that have not been served in the past. For acquire a differ- The University of Southern Queens- example, as is being done by the Ameri- ent look and feel. land, for example, has infused its course can Association of Pharmaceutical Sci- In a world of ambient technologies, per- offerings with knowledge management entists and the American Health In- vasive knowledge networking, and multi- capabilities and has reshaped the patterns formation Management Association, tasking learners, the dynamics of learning of interactivity in its courses. Students can knowledge objects from professional so- experiences must change to provide dial up and ask Professor Jones a ques- cieties and associations and professional value to new generations of learners. tion, to which they will receive an answer practice repositories can be made avail- that is a nuanced synthesis of the best an- able to colleges and universities and Defining a New Taxonomy swers to similar questions in the recent to corporate markets for inclusion of Knowledge Repositories past—with no indication that “Professor in learning and training experiences. and Resources Jones” is an intelligent agent. This frees Conversely, colleges and universities en- Knowledge sharing is a new frontier on faculty to deal with course design and gaged in e-learning programs are in- campus. Consider the range of reposito- assessment of student progress, higher- creasingly repurposing existing materi- ries and resources that are emerging, level interactivity relating to critical tacit als for use by remote learners and for which we term “vertical” to mean that a knowledge, and other activities. Learners sale to the corporate world. collection is in a particular discipline or 22 EDUCAUSE r e v i e w September/October 2003
  8. practice area and “horizontal” to mean that it covers a range of disciplines or types of knowledge. Some of the follow- ing collections exist today, and others are poised to emerge. ■ Institutional repositories capture the knowledge that lies within a particu- lar community, such as a college or university, and that crosses over many professional and discipline-based communities of practice. Such reposi- tories are local and horizontal. (Exam- ples are Ohio State University’s Knowledge Bank and the University of California system’s Scholarship Repository.) ■ International, disciplinary repositories, such as the Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE), are digital libraries that serve an international, discipline-based community of prac- tice. These are international and vertical. ■ Tradebook and academic publishers cap- ture knowledge from texts in digital form and can combine this knowl- edge with other intellectual property within their digital library. These silos are commercial, international, and horizon- tal. A good example is Emerald (http://, the lead- ing publisher of academic and profes- sional literature in the fields of man- agement and library/information management. ■ Learning management systems include digitized course content from faculty materials on platforms such as Black- board and WebCT. These collections of digitized content are international and horizontal. ■ Academic content exchanges such as MER- LOT collect course materials, includ- ing validated peer reviews of the mate- rials. These are global and horizontal. ■ Communities of practice exist through- out academia, in academic and ad- ministrative support areas like enroll- ment services and human resources. Groups such as The Boston Consor- tium have formalized their communi- ties of practice and over time will digitize the formal and informal re- sources supporting the community. These are local and vertical. ■ Individual weblogs (blogs) and knowledge weblogs (klogs) are created by individuals September/October 2003 EDUCAUSE r e v i e w 23
  9. in communities of practice. As the ing e-Knowledge, we created a vignette share knowledge. Between now and 2010, power of communities of practice about an e-knowledge marketplace called the elements of e-knowledge, e-knowing, grows, the contributions of individual the “Knowledge Content Exchange.” At and e-knowledge commerce will mature, members through blogs will be for- the January 2003 meeting of the EDU- using technologies that are largely devel- mally recognized as an important CAUSE National Learning Infrastructure oped and that await deployment and knowledge asset. An exemplar blog is Initiative (NLII), Patrick McElroy pre- widespread use. Academia will need to published by Stephen Downes (http:// sented information on the efforts of the become far more reflective about knowl- Learning Content eXchange (LCX) to edge—the forms, uses, and sharing—if it is launch such an effort. LCX is marshaling to be a vanguard participant. The knowl- The basic issue is to evolve an archi- corporate support and is developing edge ecology of colleges and universities tecture that enables this whole family of its prototype in the higher education will need to change if they are to move repositories, assets, proprietary hold- market. Another effort, eKnowledge- from a culture of knowledge hoarding to ings, and blogs/klogs to be intelligible to Xchange, is focusing on knowledge- one of knowledge sharing. In institutions one another and that enables transac- sharing support and services for K–14, where this happens, learners, faculty, tions under rules and protocols appro- public libraries, and other sources of staff, and other stakeholders will derive priate to the particular setting. This will published materials. Other institutional greater value from a set of genuinely new require persistent, dynamic digital rights and national repositories and exchange experiences. management. activities around the world are poised to In “Rethinking the Knowledge-Based In addition, there is a need for ex- grow and become part of a network of ex- Organization,” Michael H. Zack asserts changes that will aggregate supply and changes and über-marketplaces. that the degree to which an enterprise is demand for digital content/context from knowledge-based depends not on the na- a wide variety of sources and create sorts Achieving a Revolution ture of its programs, products, and ser- of über-marketplaces. These efforts could in Knowledge Sharing vices but primarily on how it is organized introduce protocols that would become In summary, leading-edge individuals and how it functions.11 True knowledge- de facto standards and greatly reduce the and institutions are on the threshold of based enterprises leverage their knowl- cost and energy required to launch wide- major advances in their capacity to ac- edge assets in every aspect of their activi- spread knowledge sharing. In Transform- quire, assimilate, utilize, reflect on, and ties, cultivate the process of knowledge 24 EDUCAUSE r e v i e w September/October 2003
  10. sharing and creation, extend knowledge ■ Pragmatic, usable standards and tools to re- ated with the current software appli- boundaries beyond the enterprise, and flect practice. In the absence of wide- cations for higher education are not develop effective knowledge strategy. spread practice, the standards emerg- yet adequate to this task. The open- Stephen Denning, Michel Pommier, and ing from international standards source movement continues to pro- Lesley Schneier remind us that in the bodies have been based on visions of vide a challenge to the established twenty-first-century economy, innova- what e-knowledge commerce should vendors, and better tools are likely to tion and competitive positioning depend be like. As prototype tools based on emerge. on shared knowledge. E-Knowledge can these standards are developed and de- ■ Low-cost approaches to knowledge-object be both the instrument and the catalyst ployed, users acquire experience. This creation, repurposing, and reuse. Put sim- enabling colleges and universities to re- experience must be used to modify ply, the cost of digital content/context orient their perspective on the power of the standards and tools, leading to needs to drop by an order of magni- knowledge sharing.12 standards that are pragmatic and sta- tude. Current handcrafted approaches The new sources of value unleashed ble. This is what practitioners need to knowledge object creation need to by e-knowledge will not be planned and and want. be succeeded by automated practices. stamped out by major technology com- ■ Low-cost knowledge management tools for Given historical development in the panies. Nor will they be ordained by in- every person. Individual faculty, students, price and performance characteristics ternational standards bodies and other staff, and other college/university citi- of new technology-based innovation, groups developing standards and proto- zens need access to simple, low-cost, such improvements are likely. cols for e-knowledge commerce. Instead, interoperable knowledge manage- ■ Capacity to liberate knowledge objects for they will emerge in an expeditionary ment tools so that they can create and exchange. Many learning objects are de- manner, based on the continuous evalu- manage content/context for personal veloped within existing repository ation and feedback of the marketplace as use and sharing. These knowledge architectures or applications architec- it discovers the potential of e-knowledge management tools should be multi- tures that do not allow for compre- and responds to emerging prototype of- purpose and not limited to the con- hensive sharing. Learning manage- ferings. In order for the new sources of struct of the course or to any particu- ment systems, enterprise portals, and value to be tapped, the following ele- lar knowledge use. The knowledge knowledge management tools need to ments must evolve: and content management tools associ- reexamine their architectures and September/October 2003 EDUCAUSE r e v i e w 25
  11. Experience with real-life e-knowledge will lead to new iterations and to the discovery of new, unexpected migration paths. approaches to en- Ambitions must be 3. Two years ago, an international team of practition- sure that they can be transformative in higher ers, academics, and consultants assembled to focus on the issue of how individuals and organi- part of an adequate education: they must zations needed dramatically to enhance their ca- migration path for revolutionize knowl- pacity to acquire, assimilate, and share knowl- institutions seeking edge sharing and, in the edge, given the constant pressure of disruptive change. A three-person writing team was sup- to unleash value process, substantially ported by an advisory group drawn from leading t h ro u gh e - k n o w - change the dynamics of authorities in standards, knowledge management, and e-learning movements in Australia, China, ledge. The ADL co- higher education and India, Japan, North America, Central America, lab s are trying to e n ha n c e t h e v a l u e and Europe: Judy Brown, United States; Dr. change this and now propositions provided Richard Hames, Australia; Maria Teresa Martinez, Mexico; Professor Toshio Okamoto, Japan; Dr. host special events to by colleges and univer- Madanmohan Rao, India; Dr. Robby Robson, showcase leading sities. Yet the process United States; Professor James C. Taylor, Aus- practice in sharable must be expeditionary, tralia; and Professor Zhu Zhiting, China. The work of this team was supported by sponsorship from content (http://www using prototype ap- SCT, WebCT,, Knowledge Media proaches that will be Inc., and the MOBIlearn Project. The result, after ■ Dynamic sharing tools continuously adjusted. fourteen months, was the following book: Donald Norris, Jon Mason, and Paul Lefrere, Transforming and protocols to support knowledge net- Loosely coupled, flexible architectures e-Knowledge: A Revolution in the Sharing of Knowledge works and communities of practice. How and applications will be developed to facil- (Ann Arbor, Mich.: Society for College and University Planning, 2003). See <http://www can communities of practice capture itate this process of adaptation. Experi->. This article ex- fresh insights for their members? And ence with real-life e-knowledge will lead to tends on the themes of the book, capturing our can they share insights with outsiders, new iterations and to the discovery of new, team’s latest insights on e-knowledge. 4. Alfred J. Beerli, Svenja Falk, and Daniel Diemers, for fee or for free, and under what unexpected migration paths. Five to seven eds., Knowledge Management and Networked Environ- protocols? years from now, the e-knowledge stan- ments: Leveraging Intellectual Capital in Virtual Business Communities (New York: AMACOM Books, 2003). ■ Exchanges that aggregate supply and dards, protocols, practices, and business 5. Thomas Davenport and Sirkka Jarvenpaa quoted demand and reduce the cost of exchange. models that have emerged will be very dif- in ibid., 43. Some form or combination of über- ferent from today’s and from our own pro- 6. Beerli in ibid., 3. 7. Robby Robson, Donald M. Norris, Paul Lefrere, marketplaces will likely be needed to jections of what the future might become. Geoff Collier, and Jon Mason, “Share and Share provide the scale and low-cost prac- E-knowledge is ready to be harnessed. Alike: The E-Knowledge Transformation Comes to tices necessary to “make the market- Those who do harness it will be the Campus,” EDUCAUSE Review 38, no. 5 (September/ October 2003), online version: <http://www place” for e-knowledge. differentiators. e>. 8. N o r r i s , M a s o n , a n d L e f r e r e , T r a n s f o r m i n g The bottom line? Dare to share! Notes e-Knowledge, 18–27, deals with the many aspects of the changing knowledge experience in words and Taken separately, e-learning, knowl- 1. Nicholas G. Carr, “IT Doesn’t Matter,” Harvard pictures. See page 128 for resources on time- edge management, and IT have failed to Business Review, May 2003. frames for ambient technology environments. 2. John Seely Brown and John Hagel III, letter to provide strategic differentiation for the editor, Harvard Business Review, June 2003, 9. Clifford Lynch, “The Afterlives of Courses on the Network: Information Management Issues for colleges and universities. But by com- available online at <http://harvardbusinessonline Learning Management Systems,” ECAR Research bining the three in higher education, e- Letters.pdf;jsessionid=5U355YCSKTCVMCTE Bulletin, vol. 2002, no. 23 (November 26, 2002). knowledge can avoid suffering the same QENB5VQKMSARWIPS>. Brown and Hagel 10. The notion of value on investment is more fully ex- fate if it is used to change the dynamics argue that strategic differentiation based on IT is plored in two sources: Donald M. Norris, “Value grounded in three principles: (1) “extracting on Investment in Higher Education,” ECAR Re- of institutional business practices and to search Bulletin, vol. 2003, no. 18 (September 2, business value from IT requires innovations in create new knowledge-based experi- business practices”; (2) “IT’s economic impact 2003); and Donald M. Norris and Mark A. Olson, ences, unleashing enhanced value. comes from incremental innovations rather than The Business Value Web: Resourcing Business Processes ‘big bang’ initiatives”; and (3) “the strategic im- and Solutions in Higher Education (Washington, D.C.: Brown and Hagel point out that such NACUBO, July 2003). pact of IT investments comes from the cumula- changes come from rapidly imple- tive effect of sustained initiatives to innovate 11. Michael H. Zack, “Rethinking the Knowledge- mented, incremental innovations, using business practices in the near term.” For Brown’s Based Organization,” MIT Sloan Management Review ideas on knowledge sharing, see John Seely 44, no. 4 (summer 2003): 67–71. new, loosely coupled applications to Brown, “Rethinking Learning in the Digital Age 12. Stephen Denning, Michel Pommier, and Lesley continuously test, refine, and reinvent of Change, Change, Change,” European Schneier, “Are There Laws of Knowledge Manage- practices. Brown’s phrase radical incre- eLearning Conference, Edinburgh, Scotland, ment?” (February 14, 2002), paper presented at mentalism captures the spirit of perpetual February 11, 2003, available for downloading at “Connecting the Future: Global Summit of Online < Knowledge Networks,” Adelaide, March 4–5, 2002, process reinvention, driven by transfor- presentations/speaker/> (ac- < mative ambitions. cessed July 10, 2003). papers/denning.htm> (accessed July 21, 2003). 26 EDUCAUSE r e v i e w September/October 2003