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Using Groupsites to Construct Knowledge Sharing and Learning Infrastructures


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Presentation of a case in which an online collaboration platform was used to support a university based course in technology entrepreneurship. Exemplifies the opportunities and problems of using collaboration platforms to support learner networks including Communities of Practice.

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Using Groupsites to Construct Knowledge Sharing and Learning Infrastructures

  1. 1. Using Collaboration Platforms to Create Tailored Knowledge Sharing and Learning Infrastructures in Universities and other Enterprises Opportunities and Problems A University Technology Entrepreneurship Course Peter Bond Learning Futures Consulting Presented at HEEG Conference Kingston UK. 15th April 2015 Higher Education Enterprise Group (HEEG). Kingston University
  2. 2. Objectives • To share my experience of using a commercial (SAAS) collaboration platform to create a knowledge sharing and learning infrastructure (KLSI) to support university students on a course in ‘technology entrepreneurship’. • To relate the benefits and opportunities of using an inexpensive fully tested commercial software ‘as a service’ over systems such as BlackBoard, especially flexibility, seamless navigation between resources (content), integration with the wider internet, blogs, conversation/discussion areas, user profiles (including, objectives, ambitions, skills), and the ease of extending registered users to beyond the university to include, for example, learning resources in the form of local SME owner/managers, community groups and local organisation with problems students might solve as a startup project. • To relate the problems I experienced of developing and using the KSLI in a ‘conservative’ university.
  3. 3. • School of Engineering (2007 to 2013) • 60 rising to 160 M.Eng., Mechanical, aerospace, civil, product design (M.Sc.) • Compulsory. Insignificant in terms of curriculum hours. Significant as a means of distinguishing engineering graduates from this particular university. • A Year 4 (M.Eng) module originally a means of satisfying the demand of Professional Institutions for coverage of management and organization theory, business, marketing, accounting, financing. Also compulsory for some M.Sc students. • Tick box. No real departmental interest or commitment, but two profs championed change to ‘Technology Entrepreneurship’. Enterprising Results • 875+ Possible Solutions/New product concepts were generated • 175 ‘real’ products and ‘invitations to invest • 20 or so simple products worthy of further development The Course
  4. 4. • Business Opportunities are opportunities to solve problems (Honda philosophy—hate something, change something, make something better) • We live in an ‘archive of solutions’ (products indicative of solutions) • Startups design the solution, AND the organization that will deliver and support it (two forms of solution making) • Both solutions articulated in the ‘business plan’ (invitation to invest) • Assignment is the production of the ‘business plan’ The Course (Enterprise Studies)
  5. 5. Problem solving based, organized as a group project Students allocated groups and play the roles of MD, Technical Director, Marketing Director, Finance Director, Director for CSR (defined in course context) ‘Board’ has regular meetings—progress minuted and reported Students ‘pitch’ for investment to a panel (assessed) Poster exhibition to capture essence, to which local businesses were invited (assessed) The Course (Enterprise Studies)
  6. 6. Product Types—Simple, Everyday, Novel
  7. 7. Enterprise Studies
  8. 8. The Course Assignment Investment Plan (Key Doc 3) Key Doc 10 Marketing Key Doc 8 Finance Key Doc 7 IPR/legal Key Doc 6 Org Design Key Doc 5 BEAR Key Doc 4 Opps to Innovate Key Doc 9 implementing
  9. 9. Some years later —2009-2012
  10. 10. Collaboration Platforms and Enterprise 2.0 Web 2.0 Enterprise 2.0 Internal Social networks Online Public Communities Of Interest Voice of Customer (VoC) Marketing Team Sites (e.g., MS Sharepoint, Huddle)) Social Networks Collaboration Spaces Project Management (Huddle) Learning Socially (e.g., Mzinga) Innovation (e.g.,
  11. 11. Enterprise Collaboration/Learning Platforms
  12. 12. • Enhanced organizational performance • Improved team-working and project management. • Faster integration of new employees to the workplace and/or workgroups. (talent management) • Reduction in time and effort to find relevant task related knowledge and information. • Greater levels and more effective collaboration, functional and departmental. • Broader input from employees into decision making processes. • Cross-pollination of ideas. • Spontaneous, unscheduled, unanticipated interaction leading to unexpected opportunities to innovate. • More effective knowledge sharing. • Much greater degree of self-organization and group cohesion (productive relationships). • Better relationships with partners (not just suppliers) and customers. • Less structured, less formal, interactions leading to trust and less fear of failure amongst employees. • More cost effective training and education programmes of greater relevance and impact. General Benefits-1
  13. 13. • Compared to Blackboard collab platforms seamlessly integrate group working tools that internet natives are familiar with (social networking). Also integrate with the wider internet. • They are informal spaces, unlike Blackboard, so are more user friendly. • Provide an opportunity for groups to work more directly with tutor through discussion forums and special interest groups • Allows students to upload documents easily and to draw attention to other learning resources, including anything media type on the wider internet in discussion areas. • Allow tutors to monitor individual activity on the site. • Allows tutors and students to drive the learning process through new content and internal emails (email ‘blasting in groupsite) • Library/knowledge base expands in line with the interest of the cohort and tutors and can remain as a library • Most discussions are visible and afford all students the opportunity to assist others, so peer to peer learning is likely to be greater than with Blackboard or the classroom • Allows university outsiders to be brought into the conversation. E.g., private and public sector managers. Some Specific Benefits University Enterprise Education
  14. 14. What is Technology? • -ology, zoology, archaeology, psychology. • Bodies of knowledge created through systematic studies of the subject. • Subject of technology is (industrial) technique, or how a result is achieved. •
  15. 15. Technology is NOT!!!! It IS the knowledge of the technique or method for using these objects KALIF System is the technique or method for using integrated ‘social media’ platforms
  16. 16. The KALiF System • The system is designed to facilitate and accelerate the process of network or community of practice (CoP) development. EU research project to 2004. • A CoP concept recognises and promotes learning socially as a key aspect of group performance. • KALIF mechanism is based on content triggered/driven conversations aimed at attaining results • Turns a list of individuals into a CoP. • Creates the conditions for the effective construction of mutually beneficial productive relationships. • Results in a knowledge sharing and learning infrastructure • Provides a framework for sponsors (a university) to direct and influence the direction of development of the CoP
  17. 17. stimulating identify recruit The KALIF ™ System Face2Face offline learning/sharin g events online events. growing repository of relevant knowledge learning resources Team/CoP dedicated to doing GOOD STUDENTS Community Stakeholders Business Managers
  18. 18. Total Integration by Means of KALIF ™ System Face2Face offline learning/sharin g events online events. growing repository of relevant knowledge learning resources Team/CoP dedicated to doing GOOD STUDENTS Community Stakeholders Business Managers stimulating identify recruit Talent Pool Problem Owners Online Events Blogs, Objective sharing, webinars, discussions, hot topics and issues, b/e.learning.. Knowledge/Information Repository learner resources. People, mentors, coaches, peers, cases, opportunities, learning resources, video, audio. docs. Face-to-face Events Hacks Knowledge markets (Problem solving) Workshops Games –simulations Classes Appreciative enquiries Knowledge Cafes Exhibitions In Motivational Spaces
  19. 19. Groupsite
  20. 20. Groupsite
  21. 21. Groupsite
  22. 22. Groupsite
  23. 23. Alternatives to • Hosted • • • • On your server
  24. 24. Problems Related to the Dept/School • No real interest in business/management education • Responding to demands of the engineering professional bodies • Competing demands teaching and research. The latter wins. Hence, not a great interest in teaching/learning strategy or technology • • CD rejected in favour of traditional lectures. Students were not allowed to receive learning material upfront. Uploaded to Blackboard each week. Only resolved with agreement to use groupsite. • Tutor colleagues not interested enough to participate in groupsite. • Situation improved with change in teacher to a ‘champion’ (Prof Hon) but he did not participate. • The groupsite was not Blackboard, and its use not be sanctioned by the university. • Six weeks lectures(2hrs) 5 weeks group working in Action Learning Labs. Groupsite as group support. Some success in attracting users
  25. 25. • Sat outside of the university LMS experience with which was not that positive • Despite the numbers claimed by developers, Enterprise 2.0 initiatives are not as successful as one might assume. • Failure to realise that simply having ‘the technology’ (the platform) is not enough to use it. Not just investment in software but investment in ‘method’ ‘technique’ ‘KAliF’ • Insufficient commitment and ‘buy-in’ by individuals. • Insufficient understanding of what motivates engagement with others on a collab platform Further and General Problems
  26. 26. • The usual problems of group based tasking and assessment, which are also evident in ‘the real world’. • Research by Four Groups using a buddy press platform called shows personality type matters. • Four Groups are developers of the 4G psychometric profiling method. Problems Related to Groupworking
  27. 27. Good Outcomes • Despite the hard work the students had to put in, the majority gave very positive feedback on the module. They recognised they had worked to produce a ‘real’ justification for financial investment, which would be good on their CVs
  28. 28. • Recognise investment has to be much more than the purchase or hire of a platform. • Recognise enterprise/entrepreneurship education is an opportunity to do things differently, which collaboration platforms might enable. • A platform supporting an enterprise initiative could stand outside of the formal LMS and be dedicated to it. • Allows/enables integration with a wider (local) assortment of enterprises, so promoting academia- industry links • Possible to use platforms to manage change, to improve existing initiatives and to change a culture. Solutions and Opportunities
  29. 29. University/ School/dept Collaboration Platform/ knowledge sharing and learning infrastructure Invitation only Problem owners This equates to the offline events mentioned in the earlier model of the KALIF system in which problem owners and would-be solution providers are brought together face to face. A feature of the Lean Startup movement