Tools for Conversation, Knowledge Productivity Target, Web 2.0 Slideshow, CoPs — Creating Learning Environments for Educators

12-Nov-07 Archive of Weekly KM Blog by Stan Garfield

KM Question of the Week

Atul Rai posted this comment about last week’s question and answer about blogs and forums.

Q: Basically, whether you call them blogs or discussion forums, they are essentially tools which enable a conversation. For example, how about if one were to use a community blog — a scenario where community folks can write to a blog and share their thoughts, primarily through posts and comments? Essentially would this serve the same purpose?

A: Community blogs can be made to work, but I think they are less well suited to supporting conversation in a community than a threaded discussion forum. Reasons for this include:

  • Comments to blogs typically must be posted by visiting the blog web site, entering information into a form, and submitting it. Comments to forums typically can be posted either online or by replying to an email message, which is easier and can be done even when not connected to the network through the use of an email client in offline mode.
  • Once submitted, comments to blogs may need to wait for approval before appearing on the blog (often due to the need to remove spam). Unless a forum is being tightly moderated, all posts and replies appear automatically and immediately.
  • Although it is possible to monitor a blog through email, this is less common than using an RSS feed reader. Forums can be monitored through email, and this allows them to reach a wider audience automatically, without the need to visit a web site or check an RSS reader.
  • Although it is possible to monitor comments posted to a blog through email or an RSS reader, many subscribers will only see the main posts and not the comments. Forums treat all posts and replies in the same way, and thus the full discussion will reach most subscribers.
  • If a blog is set up by one or a few main bloggers, it may be viewed by its readers as the voice of those few people, rather than of an entire community. Unless a forum is tightly moderated, it is usually viewed as representing the voices of all of its members.
  • If a blog is set up for multiple bloggers, it may not be clear who has posted each entry. A forum makes the identity of the poster more obvious.
  • Blogs are relatively new, and not everyone yet knows how to best follow them. Listservs have been around for a long time, and more people are familiar with reading and replying to posts using email.
  • Blogs may not provide an easy way to share files and collaborate in other ways besides conversation. Forums based on tools such as Yahoo! Groups can have associated photos, links, databases, polls, and calendars for the use of the community.

If a community is committed to making a blog support conversation, it can be made to work. If readers have good examples to share, please post then as comments to this blog.

KM Blog of the Week

Knowledge Matters by Graham Durant-Law (courtesy of Dave Snowden)

The Knowledge Productivity Target

In sector one the tasks tend to be important and easy and either urgent or not urgent. This is a good sector in which to work, and I suggest that this is where knowledge workers, as opposed to managers, should be working.

Sector two tasks tend to be important and difficult and can be further divided into urgent or not urgent.

Clearly little if any time should be spent in sectors three (not important and easy) and four (not important and difficult) and resources should not be allocated to them.

Using the knowledge productivity target as a guide, I suggest the objective of a knowledge management initiative is to:

  • squeeze and compress the outer circle to decrease the number of tasks overall;
  • squeeze and compress the inner circle to decrease the proportion of urgent tasks;
  • push the vertical axis to the right to increase the proportion of easy tasks, simultaneously decreasing the proportion of difficult tasks; and
  • push the horizontal axis downward to focus on the important tasks at the expense of the non-important tasks.

I suggest knowing where your organization spends the bulk of its time on the target matters!

KM Link of the Week

Web 2.0 Slideshow by Ed Yourdon and collaborators (courtesy of Luis Suarez)

Version 48 of Ugly Betty by Ed Yourdon

KM Book of the Week

Communities of Practice: Creating Learning Environments for Educators by Chris Kimble and Paul Hildreth

From Chris Kimble:

Following the relative success of our last book Knowledge Networks: Innovation through Communities of Practice, Paul Hildreth and I have produced another (set) of books — “Communities of Practice: Creating Learning Environments for Educators”.

This time the focus is on CoPs in Education; the ‘book’ is divided into two volumes: volume 1 deals principally with the issues found in collocated Communities of Practice, while volume 2 deals principally with distributed Communities of Practice.

Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager