Knowledge Management in e-Learning

Abstract

In the modern world, knowledge can be divided into two distinct concepts, viz. e-learning and knowledge management. This research looks at some ideas for knitting these two concepts into one model. In the theoretical part, this study discusses a number of standards referring to these concepts.

Besides the basic standard and the standalone significance of the e-learning and knowledge management, combinations will be addressed. Today, e-learning is mainly used for handcrafting courses, which are cautiously chosen to teach workers or students in an organization or learning institution.

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Among corporate organizations, knowledge management helps to collect, systematize, and deliver huge amounts of corporate knowledge. This thesis explores the integration of knowledge management in e-learning to improve the collection, organization, and delivery of knowledge, whether in traditional learning model or corporate setting. First, a model for working out e-learning procedure is designed.

This model is then augmented with concepts, strategies, and technologies from knowledge management. Knowledge management lifecycle helps to understand e-learning and flow of information. The impact of knowledge management will be well understood following a study of the process on any organization.

Introduction

The modern world, particularly the information society and the advancement of technology, has brought great improvements to the traditional study represented by the everyday structure of learning; more outstandingly, it has reduced the distance that learners have to cover in pursuit of education. At the beginning of the 21st century, most organizations, including Vocational and Technical Education (VTE) practitioners, introduced shared communication and networking using newer technologies.

The Australian Flexible Learning Framework offers schemes and imperatives, to aid e-learning and inspire more practitioners to pursue e-learning classes. By the year 2005, the significance for VTE practitioners, to concentrate on the power of learning and business by networking, begun to bear fruits with the establishment of 20 unique networks.

Most of the e-learning strategies and networks are still functional and highly beneficial. This reinforces the idea that knowledge management is a force that drives educators forward to better ways of planning and dissemination of knowledge even beyond their domain (Lindstaedt, & Farmer, 2005, p. 375). Practitioners and scholars can make contact with international colleagues. The quality of learning is of concern to providers (universities among others) and beneficiaries (students and others) from their differing viewpoints.

Literature

Knowledge Management

Knowledge management entails the way an organization collects, stores, disseminates and uses knowledge in daily activities. Therefore, knowledge management entails a range of procedures that help an organization to deploy knowledge (Lindstaedt, & Farmer, 2005, p. 375).

The interchangeability of using information and knowledge is rather confusing when it is not clarified that knowledge is being used in a unique way. Sometimes it masks the fact that whereas it can be extremely easy and fast to transfer information between two distant places, it is in most cases hard and slow to move knowledge from one person to another.

Many European nations perceive knowledge management to be synonymous with groupware. Thus, collaboration and sharing are obviously beneficial to organizational knowledge management even without the suitable supporting technology.

E-Learning

E-learning has a remarkably long history dating back more than three decades ago. That is, since the invention of computers and the Internet. With increased use of the Internet, this form of training has become increasingly acceptable, and the development of the multimedia content and management system has boosted this learning strategy.

The growth of international information technology and education has developed new meaning for e-learning and so it has become a subset. Today, e-learning mainly refers to the nature of learning that is delivered or enabled through electronic and the Internet technology. It entails a process of delivering knowledge through a number of technologies like, computers, recorded tapes and CDs, the Internet and even television.

In some way, e-learning is distance learning and can be used as an alternative to classroom teaching. Compared to other models of learning, e-learning has come to stand out because it bears some unique features, which takes care of auditory, visual and kinesthetic learners. Other features that are beneficial and unique to this form of learning include the ability to reach a diverse audience across a multinational corporation.

Besides, there are reduced costs of publishing and distribution as the internet cuts down these expenses (Kessels, 2001, p. 481). Learners are able to get individuals instruction, which print media cannot offer while instructor –led courses would be extremely expensive and inept. Besides, the learner can pace the process based on their pace of learning so that slow learners are not left behind.

Knowledge Management Implication on E-Learning

The collaborative learning theory purports that, in the process of learning, the human interaction process is particularly critical in accomplishing the learning process. Special consideration thus needs to be assured when designing the models for E-Learning to realize the full potential of the process to individual learners.

Since there has been the problem of distance standing in the way of education, knowledge management technologies and e-learning models including chats, email, and teleconferencing, this obstacle has been cut out (Donker, et al., 2002, p. 89). However, the problem is not totally solved, as there are some detractors, which argue that, there needs to be that classroom bonding between the learner and the instructor and among the students themselves. These factors are not well replicated via the information communication technologies.

E-learning systems offer learners with the necessary support to gain knowledge. These support systems include structured learning content on electronic media and the Internet plus any other relevant communication facilities.

Knowledge management enhances this by offering the systems for content management where search and sort options are enabled. It also offers collaboration with professionals and other content users. Content can be used, reused, annotated, changed and altered in any form that users wish as long as knowledge management facilities are in place.

There can be personalization of information based on the role to be played or the person using the facilities. Content on Knowledge management can be used, as a form of depository for content, to be used in e-learning. Since Knowledge, management allows sharing; therefore, integration of the systems is vital as it brings together a pool of information.

A study of the e-learning shows that, the best way to understand Knowledge management is by focusing on the government and corporate organizations process of knowledge management cycle. There are mainly four phases of knowledge management process drawn from the relationship between tacit and explicit knowledge.

These phases include socialization, combination, internalization and externalization. The objective of implementing the knowledge management strategies, in any organization, is to boot the quantity of knowledge, which can be accessed, by an individual, to help him/her solve business problems (Kessels, 2001, p. 482). Socialization entails transferring tacit knowledge from one person to another.

Externalization is translating the tacit knowledge to explicit knowledge in the storage. Combination brings together explicit knowledge from various sources to create new explicit knowledge. Internalization is extracting the explicit knowledge from the storage in a form relevant to the user where it is translated to tacit knowledge. Cognition is the application of the tacit knowledge to specified problems in an attempt to solve them.

Knowledge Management Enhances the E-Learning

The e-learning technologies have evolved separately from the knowledge management processes. Current investigations into how these technologies should be integrated show that knowledge management will enhance e-learning (Kessels, 2001, p. 492). Therefore, the five phases of Knowledge management will improve the outcomes of e-learning tremendously. The socialization aspects will assist the e-learning to identify, people with the special concerns, abilities and knowledge needed by the organization.

The externalization aspect helps the learning process to collect information with the intent of disseminating to other people. It significantly improves the process of capturing new knowledge. Combination aspect will help to organization processes and products in a manner that will be useful, effective and efficient in an organization.

The internalization aspect brings together the competency and skills, which will help identify the needs of the people, and the relevant knowledge needed for given tasks and offer them with online training. E-learning brings the knowledge to the people who need (Donker, et al., 2002, p. 87).

Cognition, on the other hand, helps to give on-demand job performance support, where the necessary training is given, at the correct time, to help complete certain organizational duties. Another aspect has been added to this, and it is feedback. Feedback as a concept of knowledge management helps in assessment and provision of how well the personnel learnt what they were taught.

Application of E-Learning

Many large organization, corporations, and universities have implemented the use of e-learning largely. However, it is common knowledge that success now requires more than mere installation of e-learning software and programs. It needs focusing away from the nature of technology to the person, i.e., the learner. In the previous stages of developing E-Learning, it was mainly seen as the solution to problems and not the tool that would help to address certain needs selectively.

Little was understood about the human element required for designing an effective teaching process in combination with the appropriate technology. By focusing on the learner, the quality of teaching has improved a fantastic deal, but so much damage had previously been made on the perception of E-Learning, during its early forays (Beamish, 2002, p. 110). This has seen some organization hesitant with introducing e-learning, as they fear such failures despites some being merely perceived.

Some organizations lack the knowledge and understanding of the process. E-learning continues to grow, and much of its understanding is expected to come about as its use intensifies. Experts say that the appropriate strategy would be to have an e-learning strategy that would bring together the entire business strategy. E-Learning is unique to every organization, and it should be used as a solution and not a system on its own.

Knowledge management is a continuous process that goes through five principal stages of development; creation, and acquisition of knowledge, its organization and storage, incorporation and distribution, adaptation and application and finally, evaluation, substantiation and refinement (Beamish, 2002, p. 108).

A remarkably common use of adaptation has been the use of learning materials content presentation based on the efficiently of the student. The principle idea is that, for the student with proficient understanding, the knowledge presentation will be a summary of materials with links to other concepts, while for a novice; there may be a more details description of things.

It is necessary to note that, the activities, which relate to the knowledge management process, implicate on the issues of sharing knowledge among individual experts or by institutions or by varying e-learning systems. In the world of technology, there are singularly few systematic sharing of the content, context and material required to pass knowledge. It can be said that, unluckily, the circumstance with motivation of the meta-knowledge sharing is still growing.

Materials and Methods

The study was conducted in a number of organizations, which were already implementing e-Learning to investigate their primary drivers to invest in E-Learning; their models of executing the E-Learning; their knowledge management strategies and the success factors, challenges and make recommendations.

The organizations visited included private ventures and government departments. The researcher also studied the American society of training and development concepts tore achieve an international outlook of e-Learning – the trends, technologies, and strategies.

A literature search if the American resources revealed that there was a little in-depth analyses f the e-Learning implementation in the American organizations. However, the search also showed that e-learning was easily gaining momentum with many organizations having a keen interest in it and seeking the best ways to implement it effectively (Spiegler, 2000, p.13).

Focused Interviews were conducted on how e-Learning and knowledge manage contributed to the process of learning in the corporation. This was guided by the assumption that there existed extremely different perception of knowledge management in e-Learning in organization and the actual execution of the underlying structures and processes.

Six companies were included in the interview, and they varied based on their sizes having employees from 30 to over 300,000 personnel. The study sought to recognize conceptual views on e-Learning and knowledge, as well as the organizational concepts and the technology facet.

Under this, the study also sought to understand the strategic and set responsibilities for the primary activities. The survey helped to understand the formal and informal learning strategies including e-learning planning, evaluation of the efficient of e-Learning, together with how motivation is provided for the benefits drawn by the appropriate supportive technology infrastructure (Beamish, 2002, p. 110).

Results

Interviews asked about the technologies for the knowledge management used in e-Learning showed that there different systems used in various areas where they could be applied. Important departments were the human resource management, and information technology department.

For the formal learning, three of six firms involved were found to be using dedicated technologies like Docent, global campus, TeleTOP, Lotus Learning Space and WebCT, and BlackBoard. The rest did not employ technologies to support their formal learning systems.

All the companies used the document management system with all of them having in house websites and intranet systems where information is shared among the personnel. Some companies used open discussion lists and moderation committees. It was fascinating to realize that the companies mainly utilized the document management systems, communities and websites as their strategies of facilitating knowledge management function (Paramythis, & Loidl-Reisinger, 2004, p.189).

The companies have only discussed of developing integration on paper but not put it into practice. However, they feel that the technical integration would exploit the best of knowledge management benefits in e-Learning. With lack of integration, companies were facing some crucial threshold. The only fear that some companies had was the usability of technology for their problems, since most people perceived that integration was a limiting factor to the usability of their technologies.

However, one of the firms was implementing a pragmatic solution where it integrated its technologies at the user interface level (Paramythis, & Loidl-Reisinger, 2004, p.187). Concretely, the websites have homepages with links to other functions, which direct users to get what they want. The personnel can access their links and work out their problems.

Discussion

It is pertinent to assess the e-Learning systems and processes before integrating them with knowledge management methods. E-learning process makes use of a great deal of different data, knowledge and information. The duty of the wide range and dimensions of knowledge, and their position in knowledge management, is a tremendously significant factor (Spiegler, 2000, p.13).

Reality is connected to entities while data was a representation of data, records and storage modes. Information was a consequence of data processing entailing sorting and organizing among others. The knowhow is a consequence of information processing operations.

In learning systems, the learning materials are data and hold the characteristics of actual and abstract entities. Data is usually the set of adaptive elements’ values and the process of interaction in the case of adaptive e-Learning systems. Metadata describes data as the names of the features and their structures.

Besides this, identifying the relevant form of knowledge related to information, concerning these sources of knowledge (like networks and professionals), is beneficial for acquiring and updating specified knowledge (Spiegler, 2000, p.13). The knowing why, and what for, will help in explaining the theory behind specified adaptation laws and motive for adaptation.

Paramythis and Loidl-Reisinger, (2004) address e-learning system as an adaptive system when it is can monitor the actions of the users; interpret them based on domain-specific model; infer user requirements and the preferences out of the interpreted action. Another factor for adaptive knowledge is being able to represent the associated models properly. Finally, it is pertinent to act on the existing knowledge of users, and the subject matter under address, to facilitate the process of learning energetically.

Conclusion

The recent studies have encouraged the integration of the knowledge management paradigm into the system of e-learning. The paper hopes to encourage the initiatives of the knowledge management strategies applied into the e-Learning technologies and consequently will inspire the experts to address problems of adaptation and personalization of the e-learning model.

The inclusion of the knowledge management process could cause a significant consequence on the approaches coupled with inspiring support from the leading knowledge management processes, which could have a key implication on the development of personalization and adaptation in the e-Learning models. This move will enhance the integration of work and learning, in organizations, to allow efficient knowledge management, education, and human capital management.

Reference List

Beamish, N. (2002). The Deployment of E-Learning in UK/European Corporate Organizations. European Business Journal, 14 (3), 105-115.

Donker, P., Efimova, L., & Swaak, J. (2002). Knowledge Management and E-Learning: A Comparison through Theory, Tools, and Practice. Enschede: Telematica Instituut

Kessels, J. (2001). Learning in Organizations: A Corporate Curriculum for the Knowledge Economy. Futures, 33(6), 479-506.

Lindstaedt, S.N., & Farmer, J. (2005). Integration of Knowledge Management and E-Learning. Journal for Universal Computer Science, 11(3), 375-377.

Paramythis, A. & Loidl-Reisinger, S. (2004). Adaptive Learning Environments and E-Learning Standards. Electronic Journal of E-Learning, 2(1), 181-194.

Spiegler, I. (2000). Knowledge Management: A New Idea or a Recycled Concept? Communications of the Association for Information Systems, 3(14), 1-24.

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