“As knowledge continues to grow and evolve, access to what is needed is more important than what the learner currently possesses” (Siemens, 2005).
As I read George Siemens’ article this week, I felt as though he’s been reading my mind and sitting in my office watching information chaos. As a new manager, I’ve been focusing on a knowledge management platform. As some of you may know who work in higher ed, curriculum, policy, personnel turnover happens constantly. As advisors, we have to know about all the changes and remain current so we can provide accurate information to our students. Right now, we have an internal Google website, which serves as a resource for advisors in our office to quickly find information. The problem is that advisors rarely use it or add to it. Siemens (2005) writes, “This cycle of knowledge development (personal to network to organization) allows learners to remain current in their field through the connections they have formed”; but what about the employee who doesn’t feel that connection to the network and frequently forgets to share vital knowledge? In my ADLT 623 course on Org Learning and Development, I read an article about knowledge maps in the conversion of tacit knowledge in higher ed as a competitive strategy. The article discovered that the preparation of knowledge maps and employee commitment is a direct byproduct of leadership and culture. The authors suggested that the institutional leaders at the departmental level motivate their employees to record their knowledge in order to obtain growth within the organization and generate a “win win” situation (Bautista et al., 2012, pg. 56). Siemens addressed the implication of constructivist theory at the end when he writes, “An organizations ability to foster, nurture, and synthesize the impacts of varying views of information is critical to knowledge economy survival” (2005). I think both articles touched briefly on culture, but not fully. Perhaps Siemens simply assumes the only way the theory will work is org cultures who are supportive of knowledge management through digital means? In order for connectivism to work, senior leadership has to motivate, incentivize, and give employees the time to share, document, and reflect on the acquisition of knowledge. As Siemens’ explained, it’s not about the knowledge itself, but the ability to find the knowledge.
I completely agree that learning is a process and not an outcome. Giving learners the ability to find information and share information (continuing the flow of info) is more important the content itself. Knowing who to go to for information in an organization is a part of the learning process rather than feeling one has to know everything all the time (impossible). The challenge with this theory is getting employees or students who are used to learning in a very individualistic way to see the benefits of building collaborative networks, sharing information, and utilizing technology tools that can benefit the organization as a whole. Siemens does address self -development as a healthy byproduct of the theory, but I think the big challenge from an org development perspective is getting the employees to see the bigger picture. If they can understand that by helping the organization they can help themselves, then perhaps constructivism can work with multi-generational organizations who may be slow to adopt new ways of thinking and knowledge sharing in chaotic information technology age.
When developing my online module, I think requiring my students share in new discoveries and experiences through blogging or maybe a Wiki has the potential to become a mini-knowledge database if you will. Students could refer to this site and add to it throughout the semester about how to be successful online learners. I like how this course required us to blog, which can be used long after the course is over. We also use Twitter, which could continue to be used after the course concludes. These are examples of how the course is building a community through the “clustering of similar areas of interest that allows for interaction, sharing, dialoguing, and thinking together” (Siemens, 2005).