Over the last two years, I have been building a course on Enterprise Social Media that put emphasis on conversations and reflection on social media from a business perspective. In this context, we have defined social media along five criteria (as many existing definitions were of ridiculous quality, such as defining social media ontop of the vague notion of Web 2.0):
- Participation: many instead of few contributors
- Openness: Opinions, ratings, comments are communicated openly (instead of restrictive editorial processes)
- Conversation: Dialogue instead of one-way communication
- Networking: Users are not isolated, but can relate to others
- Community: Users can create groups with shared interests
Social media has become omnipresent, and many of its technical building blocks are diffusing into almost every area, including traditional enterprise systems. The technology – as it has shown – is not really exciting, but still really successful introduction of social media into companies is rare. It is the socio-technical challenge that is still largely unsolved from an engineering perspective, i.e., systematically developing a good solution. That is also due to the fact that social processes have rarely been included in engineering processes in the same way as the technical design; they were rather seen as contextual factors.
Recently, our new project EmployID has started in which we plan to develop and deploy solutions for public employment services in Europe. Of course, the envisioned solutions are based on social media principles, and of course, we hit the limits of restrictions. But the difference of EmployID has been that we are fully aware that social processes need to evolve. And we have found one key area that is key to change: the professional identity. Therefore we target with our (socio-technical!) solutions at learning processes that trigger and accompany identity development processes.
It has turned out that technology has so far neglected one important perspective: the role of supporting the learning of others. We call this facilitation and use it in a very broad sense. In our ICELW 2014 paper, we have categorized facilitation into human facilitation, facilitation through tools, and facilitations through shaping environments. Facilitators have so far hardly been seen as a primary target for tool functionality, but we believe them to be the key group.
From another angle, we have analyzed the role of knowledge in software systems in our contribution to this year’s I-KNOW conference. With the current trend of software applications no longer prescribing usage processes, but supporting activities that can be flexibly combined, there arises the need for support in appropriating tools and co-evolving as part of the appropriation process, which is – by the way – another good example for knowledge maturing processes. This again is about supporting facilitaiton where facilitation roles can be flexible assumed
From our perspective, the focus on facilitation is the next frontier for supporting learning, both at the workplace, but also in the context of MOOCs. Many technical developments can contribute here, especially those technologies that try to make sense from the activities in social media environments, such as recommender systems, (workplace) learning analytics, among others. But again, this require socio-techical engineering for which better methods are required. So challenging topics to research on!
Schmidt, Andreas, Kunzmann, Christine
Designing for knowledge maturing: from knowledge-driven software to supporting the facilitation of knowledge development
In: International Conference on Knowledge Management (I-KNOW 2014), ACM, 2014
Bimrose, Jenny, Brown, Alan, Holocher-Ertl, Teresa, Kieslinger, Barbara, Kunzmann, Christine, Prilla, Michael, Schmidt, Andreas, Wolf, Carmen
Introducing learning innovation in public employment services. What role can facilitation play?
In: Proceedings of International Conference on E-Learning at the Workplace (ICELW) 2014, New York City, USA, June 11-13, 2014
Social media demands knowledge management to refocus on broad participation and the active role of individuals as both consumers and contributors at the same time. To make sense of these developments within organisations, knowledge management approaches need to connect the dynamic and fluid social media interactions of individuals and in informal communities with stability and institutionalization in a formal organisational environment.
Towards that end, knowledge maturing is a novel perspective on knowledge creation in and across organisations. The knowledge maturing model contributes to theories of organisational knowledge creation by structuring the collective development process into characteristic phases which are not passed in a strictly linear way.
The x-axis of the model describes how knowledge moves through the four scopes of interaction individual, community, organization and society. The y-axis describes the abundant ideas entering the knowledge maturing process and the organisation’s focus of attention which is wide in the beginning and narrowed down along the phases
- I. Emergence. Individuals create personal knowledge by pursuing their interests in browsing abundant knowledge spaces inside and beyond the organisation, opening up for new knowledge and the changes it might bring about. Knowledge is subjective, deeply embedded in the originator’s context and the vocabulary used for communication might be vague and restricted to the originator. Based on the findings of our studies, we revised this phase to include two sub-phases, exploration and appropriation.
Ia. Exploration: New knowledge is developed by individuals either in highly informal discussions or by browsing the knowledge spaces available inside the organisation and beyond. Extensive search and retrieval activities often result in loads of material influencing creative processes of idea generation.
Ib. Appropriation: New knowledge or results found in the exploration subphase that have been enriched, refined or otherwise contextualised with respect to their use are now appropriated by the individual, i.e. personalised and contributions are marked so that an individual can benefit from its future (re-)use. While many initiatives for knowledge management have focused on sharing knowledge or even detaching knowledge from humans as “media”, individuals also require support for appropriation, at least in a more individualistic culture.
- II. Distribution in communities: The first phase in the scope of communities describes interactions between individuals driven by social motives and the benefits that individuals typically attribute to sharing knowledge. These are, among others, belonging to a preferred social group, thus increasing the probability of getting back knowledge from the community when one needs it. Distribution is not meant in the sense of a one way street of individuals contributing new knowledge that they have committed to. The phase includes discussing the new knowledge, negotiating its meaning and impact, co-developing knowledge, convincing others and agreeing plus committing to the knowledge as collective. From the perspective of semantics, a common terminology is developed and shared among community members.
- III. Transformation: Artefacts created in the preceding phases are often inherently unstructured and still highly subjective and embedded in the community context which means they are only comprehensible for people in this community due to shared knowledge needed to interpret them. Transformation means that knowledge is restructured and put into a form appropriate for moving it across the community’s boundaries. Structured documents are created in which knowledge is de-subjectified, sometimes formalised using established containers and context is made explicit to ease the transfer to collectives other than the originating community.
- IV. Introduction: Knowledge is prepared with a specific focus on enhancing understandability, handed on and applied in an ad-hoc manner in trainings in which a selected group of users is instructed using didactically prepared material. We found two primary interpretations of this first phase in the scope of organisation, i.e. (1) an instructional setting called ad-hoc training and (2) an experimental setting called piloting.
- IV1. Ad-hoc training: Documents produced in the preceding phases are typically not well suited as learning materials because no didactical considerations were taken into account. Now the topic is refined to improve comprehensibility in order to ease its consumption or re-use. Individual learning objects are arranged to cover a broader subject area. Tests allow to determine the knowledge level and to select learning objects or learning paths.
- IV2. Piloting: Typically, not every implementation detail can be foreseen in the transformation phase. Knowledge is arranged in a way so that it can be applied in a dedicated, specific experiment involving not only the creators of knowledge, but other stakeholders. Experiences are collected with a test case before a larger roll-out of a product, a service to an external user community, e.g., customers or stakeholders, or new organisational rules, procedures or processes to an organisation-internal target community such as project teams, work groups, subsidiaries or other organisational units.
- V. Standardisation: The knowledge is further solidified and formally established in the organisation to be used in repeatable formal trainings, work practices, processes, products or services. As in the introduction phase, we distinguish an instructional setting with standardised training activities, called formal training, and an experimental setting turning pilots into standard organisational infrastructure, processes and practices, called institutionalisation. The term standard, finally, can also refer to external standardisation initiatives which are similar for both settings, transcend the organisational boundaries and move knowledge maturing to the scope of societies.
- V1a. Formal training: In an instructional setting, the subject area becomes teachable to novices. A curriculum integrates learning content into a sequence using sophisticated didactical concepts in order to guide learners in their learning journeys to capture a subject area thus increasing the probability of successful knowledge transfer. Learning objects are arranged into courses covering a broader subject area. Learning modules and courses can be further combined into programs preparing for taking on a new role or for career development.
- V2a. Institutionalisation: In the organisation-internal case, formalised documents that have been learned by knowledge workers are solidified and implemented into the organisational infrastructure in the form of processes, business rules and/or standard operating procedures. In the organisation-external case, products or services are launched on the market. They are institutionalised into the portfolio of products and services offered by the organisation.
- Vb. External standardisation: The ultimate maturity sub-phase is very similar for both paths, the instructional and the experimental path, and covers some form of standardisation or certification. On an individual level, qualifications and certificates confirm that participants of formal trainings achieved a certain degree of proficiency which is comparable across institutions. On an organisational level, certificates allow organisations to prove compliance with a set of rules that they have agreed to fulfil. Concerning products and services, certificates show compliance to laws, regulations or recommendations that can, should or must be fulfilled before a product or service can be offered in a certain market.
Maier, Ronald, Schmidt, Andreas
Explaining organizational knowledge creation with a knowledge maturing model
Knowledge Management Research & Practice, vol. 2014, no. 1, 2014, pp. 1–20
Over the last years, we’ve been working a very interesting subject that combines palliative care, theology, and semantic technologies. In collaboration with Tanja Stiehl from LMU Munich, Traugott Roser from University of Münster, and Christine Kunzmann from Pontydysgu, we have developed a concept for a systematic approach to spiritual care in the context of (child) palliative care. Based on a empirical analysis of existing patient records, an ontology has been developed that links observations about patients, interpretations of those observations in terms of spiritual concepts, and spiritual care interventions.
This can be used to structure patient records and gain evidence about effectiveness of spiritual care interventions and to create awareness in a multi-professional setting.
Together with a student team at Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences, we have developed a first prototype that demonstrates the added value of ontologies and semantically annotated patient records for developing a systematic approach to spiritual care.
This is going to be presented at the ARTEL 2013 workshop of ECTEL 2013 at Paphos, Cyprus. The respective paper is available as PDF from here.
More information can be found under http://spironto.de.
The TELMap project has interviewed major TEL projects for a rich picture of the advances in Technology Enhanced Learning . As former coordinator, I had the pleasure and challenge to present a brief summary of what MATURE has achieved (I blogged before about the experience). Here is now the result:
TELMap has compiled an overview as an ebook (currently only iBooks, but other formats are promised): http://bit.ly/tel-advances – worth checking out.
For all those outside the i-universe: here is the chapter on MATURE as PDF.
Today I finally had my inaugural lecture at Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences, which went well and engaged the audience in an interesting discussion afterwards. It was also a good opportunity to meet former colleagues and friends again. The lecture was about my favourite topic: knowledge maturing, and it summarizes the results of the last seven years of research on the subject.
Today I have been invited by Fridolin Wild (KMI, Open University, UK) from the TEL-Map project. They produce short videos on key projects in the field of technology enhanced learning. I had the honour and challenge to present four years of MATURE in 5 mins. Finally I have managed to present it in 5:30, but that’s still an achievement. The video is planned to be published in January, but here is already the script:
Organizations have increasingly recognized the importance of knowledge and its development. But their success has been limited. They have introduced knowledge, learning and competence management systems. But their approaches to systematically supporting learning have largely failed to live up to their promises. They lack employee acceptance and all too often degenerate into administrative exercises.
On the bright side, Web 2.0 approaches have shown that individuals are willing to collaborate, are willing to share their knowledge and are willing to help others. The challenge for organizations is to create an environment that makes use of these individual activities and that aligns them to a shared organizational objective.
At the core of MATURE is the knowledge maturing process as an integrated perspective. It follows the development of knowledge from an initial idea or vague thought through the discussion in communities and the transformation for wider distribution, via piloting up to institutionalisation and standardization. It consists of interconnected individual learning activities where the output of the first is input to the next.
The different phases of maturing have radically different characteristics which explain why learning looks different and why learning support needs to be different in each of the phases. While knowledge in later phases is more accessible to novices, experts in a field are productive in the early phases.
This perspective provides a landscape of the manifold forms of learning in organizations. It pins down the role of idea management, social media, human resource development and knowledge management. And it is an instrument for analyzing connections and barriers in between them.
This redefines many company processes and tools. In this respect, MATURE has particularly focused on the barriers in early phases that hinder wider participation.
One area is competence management and the knowledge about others‘ expertise. MATURE has used a lightweight people tagging approach where individuals can assign topic tags to each other. And by giving employees the opportunity to collaboratively develop a competence catalog, it bridges the early, highly informal phases with the later phases that require formal definitions. And it allows for topics appearing much earlier than before.
Another area is business process management. The development of process knowledge does not start with formal process models, but with individual and collaborative task management. By detecting and sharing patterns and adding experiences to them, it evolves into reusable guidelines that could eventually turn into prescriptive processes.
MATURE has successfully trialled new solutions that create more agile and dynamic environments. Topics disseminate much quicker into the organization, the creation of documents, taxonomies, or process models is much more agile. This increases the company’s capacities to innovate.
But it is also obvious that the knowledge maturing perspective challenges traditional company approaches and cultures.
Systems that are centered around administrating learning need to turn into systems facilitating learning. Instead of control, their internal models (such as catalogs, or process models) needs to be much more open to change by the individuals using the system. And these systems need to connect within a Learning and Maturing Environment.
The increasing adoption of enterprise 2.0 approaches is a promising sign that companies realize the importance of participation, but from a knowledge perspective, this needs to be complemented by an integrated view that makes sense of social media activity for the organization. Knowledge Maturing Indicators that have been developed within MATURE and can be derived from user interactions are crucial in this respect and pave the way for productive learning analytics at the workplace.
While there are a lot of technical issues in moving to a more dynamic and interconnected perspective, it is not only about technology. As the empirical studies have shown a change of the mindset on all levels of an organization is crucial.
We also need to move away from isolated approaches to learning. Knowledge maturing is not only about formal learning or informal learning, it is about viewing these two as interconnected, bridging departments and responsibilities.
MATURE has initiated a Knowledge Maturing Consulting Network as a catalyst for change to realize its vision of a learning rich workplace.
Ever since I have been engaged in technology enhanced learning (at that time, most of it was called e-learning), I have been suspicious about viewing learning only to happen in formal, dedicated learning activities (such as university courses, business trainings and seminars – or e-learning courses). Jay Cross has made the 80-20 paradox popular: 80% of learning at the workplace happens informally, while only 20% of budget goes into these activities. Within Learning in Process, we had tried to integrate more formal with informal learning activities through a recommendation approach that blended formal and informal opportunities. This has led to a more holistic perspective to the various forms of learning: the knowledge maturing model conceptualized the characteristics of learning dependent on the maturity of the knowledge an individual interacts with, from creative idea generation to teaching novices about standardized topics. It has helped to understand how diverse approaches to supporting learning of employees fit together, such as human resources development, knowledge management, e-collaboration, and idea management. We have explored this from a empirical and design perspective within the four years MATURE IP, which is now continued in the Knowledge Maturing Consulting Networkfrom a practical perspective.
This week, we have organized another edition of the MATEL workshop on Motivational and Affective Aspects in Technology-Enhanced Learning at ECTEL 2012 in Saarbrücken. I had the opportunity to present the MATURE Motivational Model (developed together with Christine Kunzmann), which is now also part of the Knowledge Maturing Consulting Network that transfers MATURE results into practice.
The slides are available via Slideshare.
Additionally, I was opening the second day of the workshop with an overview of the results of past editions. The preparation of these slides was actually a rewarding exercise of reflection on what we have achieved, and I was surprise how many interesting conceptual results were produced by the groups.
Similarly, the third edition produced a new landscape of affective aspects and research directions for both. You can find a summary here. This has shown that there is a lot of potential for research activities in that area (and we are in desperate need for sound research results), and we hope that we can spark even more research in this area – although we know that the topic is “in between disciplines”, which often makes it difficult to justify as PhD topic. As part of the LEARNING LAYERS project – scheduled to start in November, we plan to do some additional investigations within SME networks.
This year, we also had the opportunity to share our results with the whole ECTEL 2012 audience – I think this was really a good idea. I have come to believe that the intense workshops at ECTEL 2012 are the most rewarding part of the event. Here is the poster:
Finally, our JCAL article on the research and design approach of MATURE has been published here. We report here on our iterative and agile approach to a four years large-scale research project, which is grounded on design-based research. The approach follows a similar route as the ontology-centered design process used in SOPRANO with a strong shared artefact as a boundary object between the various parties and activities, but constitutes a major advancement based on the experiences gathered with using the knowledge maturing model as a conceptual anchor. It also shows that mixed method research approaches that combine empirical research with design activities are particularly relevant for the field of technology enhanced learning and informal learning at the workplace.
Designing social media for informal learning and knowledge maturing in the digital workplace
by: Andrew Ravenscroft, Andreas Schmidt, John Cook, and Claire Bradley
In: Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, Vol. 28, Nr. 3 (June 2012) , p. 235-249.
Please contact me if you are interested in getting access to the article if you are not a subscriber to the journal.