Thursday, March 13, 2008

Putting Ideas to Work

Putting Ideas to Work is a recent article by Thomas H. Davenport, Laurence Prusak and Bruce Strong published at Sloan Review.

The authors point to the problems of traditional knowledge management (KM) and write:

Over the past 15 years or so, many large organizations have embraced the idea that they could become more productive and competitive by better managing knowledge—the ideas, insights and expertise that originate in the human mind.

In practice, however, some of them are still struggling to make it work. Their knowledge-management efforts, while useful in some ways, haven't necessarily led to better products and services, more effective employees or superior work processes.

What went wrong? Some firms stumbled by focusing their knowledge-management efforts solely on technology at the expense of everything else, while others failed to tie knowledge programs to overall business goals or the organization's other activities. A new approach is needed if knowledge management is to transition into a more pragmatic discipline, one that can be used to improve specific job functions and work processes.

To overcome this problem, the authors then suggest three knowledge-related activities, namely knowledge creation, knowledge dissemination, and knowledge application.

The authors also note that learning and KM have been kept separate from an organization structure point of view. As they put it:

In the past, most companies treated knowledge and learning as separate entities. These functions were managed by different departments, and the groups didn't coordinate their activities or work toward the same business objectives.

That is starting to change. A survey of 20 high-performing businesses conducted in 2006 provided strong evidence that learning and knowledge initiatives increasingly are being intertwined and targeted at mission-critical work forces.

I've written about the deficiencies in traditional learning and KM initiatives and the challenge of the fusion of the two domains. These ideas are dicussed in this article addressing the view of learning and KM as two sides of the same coin (article available for free).

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

First World Summit on the Knowledge Society

The Open Research Society (ORS) is organizing the first World Summit on the Knowledge Society, 24-28 September 2008, Athens, Greece. It's a honor for me to be a member of the Program Committee.

The World Summit on the Knowledge Society, is an international attempt to promote the dialogue for the main aspects of the Knowledge Society towards a BETTER WORLD for all. The World Summit on the Knowledge Society will bring together Academics, People from Industry, Policy Makers, Politicians, Government Officers and active citizens to look at the impact of Information Technology, and the knowledge-based era it is creating, on key facets of today’s world: the state, business, society and culture.
For more information, you can visit the summit homepage here or contact Dr. Miltiadis Lytras.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Portability in Social Networks

Friday, March 07, 2008

Connectivism Resources

George Siemens has compiled a list of resources related to connectivism including transcripts of talks by Terry Anderson, Will Richardson, Stephen Downes, Diana Oblinger, and Bill Kerr from the online connectivism conference that he organized last year.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

OpenService API

I would like to start a conversation about the idea of having what can be called „OpenService API“ that enables to develop services that can be used anywhere that supports that API (something similar to the OpenID and OpenSocial concepts but in a service provisioning/integration context). The „OpenService API“ should not only be based on HTML and JavaScript as it is the case with Google Gadgets API for instance; it can also use SOA technologies (e.g. REST, SOAP etc.).
In my opinion, this can be very useful for the extensibility of Personal Learning Environments (PLE). I can imagine to design and develop a PLE Framework (PLEF) that supports the “OpenService API” such that services based on that API can easily be plugged into the framework.

What do you think? Do we really need this? What are the requirements of such an API?

I would also be very thankful if you can point me to existing ideas in this direction.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


We have created in PROLEARN a roadmap toward professional learning in 2020. We came up with 6 vision statements as follows:

  • Vision statement I: “Everyone should be able to learn anything at anytime at anyplace.” The main goal is to provide the right learning experiences at the right time for the right person. The statement is closely linked to the IST challenge. It embraces issues of digital convergence of communication networks, media, content and devices. The new capabilities offered by recent advances in mobile and internet communications can support and facilitate mobility towards a lifelong learning environment, enabling the creation, storage, management and access to knowledge everywhere and every time. The aim is to create and deliver a personalized learning experience to everyone.
  • Vision statement II: “Learning as a means to support and enhance work performance.” The main goals are to support human performance improvements and to provide links between business processes, competencies and learning processes; and use TEPL to design high quality work-based learning activities so that learning and working becomes interlocked. The statement is related to specific industry challenges, such as performance support and performance improvements at the work place.
  • Vision statement III: “Promote innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship at work.” This vision encompasses a variety of goals such as: a) Learning supporting radical change in an organization and improving ability to change; and b) Competency development (including thinking out of the box, creativity, asking the right questions, leadership). The statement is related to industry challenges such as investment and development of the company’s human capital and use of learning to support ability to change in organization
  • Vision statement IV: “Learning as a means to increase employability.” This statement focuses on the Learner’s perspective, the employees’ continuous professional development, and the need to increase employability. The goals in this vision include resilience, employability, getting skilled faster and personal growth. Enhanced mobility, employability and competency of the European workforce. Portability of learning achievements is one of the key-issues to be addressed.
  • Vision statement V: Market take-up. “Professional e-learning will be a commodity market in 2015.” This statement focuses on market take up of TEPL and the ability to purchase content and learning services regardless of type and country of the learner supplier in a unified transparent market. The main goals in this vision include market transparency, consumer driven market, one-stop-shopping, wider choice at all levels, and selection optimization. Development of both segments of the market: from the low end commodity market to the high end upscale, high value added segment. There are two alternative ways to achieving this vision. One is about the commodity market being based on the “canned courses” concept, while the other is based on communities of practice and collaborative creation and sharing of professional know-how.
  • Vision statement VI: Socially inclusion. “High quality learning for all”. This statement addresses social inclusion issues, such as digital divide, the gap between poor and rich etc. The goal will be to democratize knowledge provision and to support the so-called e-Inclusion and equal opportunities for all in the workplace.
Then, a Gap Analysis phase started during which, a comparison between the state of the art and the vision statements was performed in order to identify the Gaps between what is available today and what is needed for the future, set capability targets and requirements and derive the strategy (Actions/Recommendations) needed to fill these Gaps. Our approach has aimed to identify the current strengths (existing capabilities), weaknesses (missing or inadequate capabilities), opportunities (key future capabilities) and capability-related threats (problematic factors such as competition for sources of capabilities and resources needed to acquire new capabilities or re-direct existing capabilities) and which will contribute to the realization of the visions.

The result of this work is captured in PROLEARN Deliverable D12.5 "Roadmap for TEPL" that can be accessed here.

Comments are welcome.

Monday, March 03, 2008

PROLEARN Final Review

Last week, I attended the PROLEARN final review meeting in Hanover, Germany. The review went extremely well and was a real success for the entire network. Our reviewers were very satisfied with the achievements of the network during the past 4 years. These achievements have been summarized in this press release (.pdf). Here is an excerpt:

The Network of Excellence PROLEARN focuses on technology enhanced professional learning. In the period 2004-2007 it brought together the most important European research groups in the area of professional learning and training, as well as other key organizations and industrial partners. In this document we summarize the main outcomes of PROLEARN.
Research in PROLEARN has focused on four main topics that are highly relevant for professional learning: interoperability, competencies and personalization, collaborative learning, and business processes and learning. The results include standards for publishing and querying learning resources as well as a SECI-based framework for learning processes at work. PROLEARN has provided several tools for collaborative learning, with the multifunctional FlashMeeting videoconferencing tool as one of the highlights.
PROLEARN has organized several events that were targeted at different communities. Three main events will be sustained in the coming years. For Ph.D. students in the field of technology-enhanced learning, there is the highly popular PROLEARN Summer School. The annual EC-TEL conference series provides a strongly recognized forum for European research that brings the leading experts in the field of technology-enhanced learning together. The Professional Training Facts series offers a forum for information and exchange to potential users and developers targeting industry.
A large number of tools will remain available to the community after the end of PROLEARN. In addition to FlashMeeting, this includes the Conzilla concept modelling system, PROLEARN TV and the eMersion system for deplyoing innovative pedogical scenarios and flexible learning resources.
In March 2007 the core partners of the PROLEARN established the European Association of Technology Enhanced Learning (EATEL) (see The objective of EATEL is to promote education and continuing education in the area "Technology-Enhanced Learning" (TEL) and to support science and research in this area.
Finally, PROLEARN created a roadmap toward professional learning in 2020. Our vision can be summarized as follows: “To support knowledge workers with technology-enhanced learning by promoting motivation, performance, collaboration, innovation and commitment to lifelong learning.”
What I most gained after 4 years in the PROLEARN NoE is the extension of I would call my personal knowledge network with:
- Explicit knowledge nodes, e.g. information in deliverables, reports, research papers, surveys etc.; outcome of face-to-face and virtual meetings; results of brainstorming sessions etc.
- Tacit knowledge nodes, i.e. excellent PROLEARN researchers whom I got to know and work with in the last years. I really enjoyed talking and collaborating with great researchers like Ralf Klamma, Erik Duval, Ambjörn Naeve, Vitali Fedulov, Marcus Specht, Milos Kravcik, Martin Wolpers, Wolfgang Nejdl, Gunnar Martin, Paul Lefrere, Peter Scott, Fridolin Wild, Margit Hofer, Barbara Kiesinger, Denis Gillet, Effie Law, Tomaz Klobucar, Vana Kamitisou, Katherine Maillet, Volker Zimmermann, Paul De Bra, Alexandra Cristea, and many many other great people.