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Knowledge Management: What is it? Why do you need to know? How do you support it?

Educause Learning Initiative Annual Meeting January 30-31, 2006 San Diego, California Kari Branjord, University of Minnesota Toru Iiyoshi, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Paul Treuer, University of Minnesota Duluth Abstract: This session will explore a coherent and well-defined framework for understanding knowledge management tools in education from national, cross-institutional, institutional, and technological perspectives. Building on the framework, we will offer practical solutions for putting knowledge management tools into practice to support students, faculty, institutions, and initiatives. Definitions of knowledge, e-knowledge, and knowledge management: 1. business process for managing intellectual assets. It is a discipline that promotes an integrated approach to the creating, capture, organization, access, and use of a company's knowledge and information assets. Examples are structure databases, textual data, and the tacit knowledge and expertise of individual employees. (Gartner as quoted by Educause) 2. the systematic process of finding, selecting, organizing, distilling and presenting information in a way that improves an employee's comprehension in a specific area of interest. (Educause) 3. the set of organizational processes that create and transfer knowledge supporting the attainment of academic and organizational goals. (Townley, 2003) 4. relates knowledge to institutional missions and to individual goals of scholars in ways that lead to increased organizational accountability and effectiveness. (Townley, 2003) 5. [the ability to] capture the knowledge embedded in their organizations(Brown & Duguid, 2000) 6. Only when information is combined with experience and judgement does it become knowledge. (Kidwell, et al, 2000) 7. E-knowledge consists of knowledge objects and knowledge flows that combine content, context, and insights on applicationE-knowing is the act of achieving understanding by interacting with individuals, communities of practice, and knowledge in a networked world. (Norris, et al, 2003) 8. Knowledge can be modeled as a thing and a flow at the same time. (Norris, et al, 2003) 9. Knowledge management is a broad term that frames a firms desire to do a better job in the creation, transfer, and codification of what employees, partners, and customers know. (Orlov, 2006) 10. A KM approach is the conscious integration of the people, processes, and technology involved in designing, capturing, and implementing the intellectual infrastructure of an organizationIt is what enables people within an organization to develop the ability to collect information and share what they know, leading to action that improves services and outcomes. (Petrides, 2004)

Assumptions: 1. Theory: knowledge is created in an information-rich world through processes: examining, selecting, organizing, assimilating, and synthesizing information. 2. Tools: technology such as multimedia, information/data-visualization tools, databases, search engines, on-line communication tools, etc., facilitates knowledge creation and sharing. 3. Teaching and Learning: Higher education IS an environment where various kinds of knowledge (learning, teaching, administrative, and research) is created and shared. 4. Communication: KM is about contextualizing information and knowledge through the use of rapidly evolving on-line/electronic communication tools.

Framework: 1. Selectivity: Not all knowledge is created equal. Determine that which is important prior to moving forward. This includes the idea of compressing complex knowledge into a simpler presentation. Brown talks about not crushing knowledge under its own weight. This is not to say that it should be diluted; rather it should be distilled to its essence and presented in clear and obvious ways. Without forethought, the workgroup and/or institution will drown in information and knowledge and not be able to do anything about it. 2. Repurposability: There are several concepts included in this term. Terms such as granularity, re-usability, and enter-once-use-many fall under this heading. In order for knowledge to be useful, it must be small enough to (re)combine with other pieces of knowledge, yet large enough to be meaningful. If individuals have to constantly re-enter knowledge or information that is already known to another system, sharing will diminish. No one has time to rehash the same stuff; individuals must be able to reuse the knowledge they have already documented. 3. Interoperability: Is a corollary to repurposability. It is not enough to be able to reuse collections of knowledge within a system; systems must be aware of the knowledge that other systems house and must be able to access it. This requires standards and integration technologies. Trusted sourcing and cross-system authentication is vital. Knowledge does not exist in just one domain; it must be permitted to live outside of a particular context, such as a class. 4. Individual control and ownership: Knowledge creation is an invisible activity that occurs in the human brain (Davenport, 1998). Only when this becomes explicit with supporting artifacts can it be shared. The knowledge that a person possesses or created is her own. It becomes more valuable, and the rate of acquisition accelerates when a person is participating in communities or groups. Thus, KM technologies, by definition, facilitate this sharing of knowledge in social networking. It is imperative, however, that the focus and highest level of consideration be given to the individuals rights to control and responsibilities to share. 5. Openness: KM technologies and processes must escape proprietary boundaries. This is not an advertisement for open source. This is to suggest that only when knowledge is shared and made explicit to all is it truly valuable. When it is exposed, others can comment and build upon it, make connections in new ways, and return the ideas and knowledge to the originator in enriched forms. While open source software is an example of this in practice, the connectedness the internet permits can enable all knowledge processes to behave this way.

Systems and Tools that contribute to knowledge management Portal Bibliography tools (e.g. RefWorks) Identity management

Grants management

Tagging enabled organization of on-line information (e.g.

On-line community workspace

Experts databases

Concept or Mind mapping

Social networking


Learning Object repository

Instant messaging

KEEP Toolkit

Accreditation Management


Curriculum Management



Graduation Planner


Web conferencing tools

Constituent databases


On-line presentation tools

Grassroots mobilization networks


Off-line presentation tools (e.g. Powerpoint)

Management Information systems


On-line and multimedia authoring tools

IT Governance

Threaded discussion board

Reporting and dashboard tools

Enterprise transactional systems (e.g. HRMS, Student Admin, etc.)

Competency tracking

Search engines

Course Management

Tags/Labels/Keywords organizational tools

Recommendation engines

Content management

Helpdesk-style knowledge engine

Video analysis tools

References: Bernbom, G., & Davenport, T. (1998). Managing knowledge: An interview with Thomas Davenport. CAUSE/EFFECT, Volume 21(Number 1), 12-13-17. Brown, J. S., & Duguid, P. (2000). Balancing act: How to capture knowledge without killing it. Harvard Business Review, (May-June) Educause. Knowledge management topic definition. Retrieved January 20, 2006 from Hatch, T., Bass, R., Iiyoshi, T., & Mace, D. P. (2004). Building knowledge for teaching and learning: The promise of scholarship of teaching in a networked environment. Change, 36(no. 5), 42-49. Norris, D. M., Mason, J., Robson, R., Lefrere, P., & Collier, G. (2003). A revolution in knowledge sharing. EDUCAUSE Review, , 15-16-26. Norris, D., Mason, J., & Lefrere, P. (2003). Transforming e-knowledge. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Society for College and University Planning. Orlov, L. M. (2004, September 21, 2004). Analyst corner: When you say 'KM,' what do you mean? [Electronic version]. CIO, Petrides, L. A. (2004). Knowledge management, information systems, and organizations (Research Bulletin No. Volume 2004, Issue 20). Boulder, Colorado: EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research. Robson, R., Norris, D. M., Lefrere, P., Collier, G., & Mason, J. (2003). Share and share alike: The Eknowledge transformation comes to campus. EDUCAUSE Review, Santosus, M. (2004, July 9, 2004). In the know: The secret to KM success. [Electronic version]. CIO, Townley, C. T. (2003). Will the academy learn to manage knowledge? EDUCAUSE Quarterly, Number 2

Copyright Kari Branjord, Toru Iiyoshi, Paul Treuer, 2006. This work is the intellectual property of the authors. Permission is granted for this material to be shared for non-commercial, educational purposes, provided that this copyright statement appears on the reproduced materials and notice is given that the copying is by permission of the authors. To disseminate otherwise or to republish requires written permission from the authors.