Knowledge Management and E-Learning the Synergy Needed
Liebowitz, Jay, Distance Learning
As distance learning professionals and educators, the nexus of what we deliver and present is "knowledge." The ability to best manage this knowledge in an online delivery format could help in providing the most value to a course. As such, knowledge management and e-learning should be intertwined to produce an enriching course experience.
Over recent years, we are seeing a greater interest in the use of distance learning in education. For example, the U.S. Department of Labor within the past year announced a $2 billion Open Educational Resource program for community colleges to serve students online and will be required to make those materials - videos, text, assessments, curricula, diagnostic tools, et cetera - available to anyone in the world, free, under a Creative Commons license. Proposals for the first $500 million have already been received by the Labor Department (Vollmer, 2011).
At the same time that e-learning is growing, we are also seeing knowledge management becoming more important to organizations. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, those organizations that are integrating knowledge management into their business strategies are the leaders in their industry sectors ("Leaders Know," 2009). Knowledge management deals with capturing, sharing, applying, and generating knowledge internally and externally.
The time has come for these two disciplines, knowledge management and elearning/distance learning, to combine to create a synergistic effect. Already, there is the fairly new Knowledge Management & ELearning (www.kmel-journal.org/ojs) international journal published out of Hong Kong. Also, Michael Frank and I edited a book this year titled Knowledge Management and E-Learning (Taylor & Francis, 2011). And in September 2011, Reychav Iris and Anand Vikas published a paper titled "ELearning Technologies: A Key to Dynamic Capabilities" (Computers in Human Behavior Journal, Vol. 27, No. 5) where they found a solid connection between e-learning, knowledge management, and organizational outcomes.
So, what model can we use to best leverage knowledge management and e-learning? Adapting from learning theory, we can create a Venn diagram with three components: knowledge-enabled, learner-centered, and community-access. The knowledge-enabled component would relate to knowledge retention and transfer issues. The learner-centered component relates to e-learning considerations. The community-accessed component combines both knowledge management and e-learning through social networking, online communities, and competitive intelligence. The intersection of the components may be called "strategic intelligence"; that is, how to improve the strategic decision making process of the organization.
Already, we are seeing organizations take advantage of the synergy between knowledge management and e-learning. …