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October 23, 2003

eLearning and Knowlege Management - two sides of the same coin?

The recent Streaming Media CA conference was co-located with a Knowledge Management conference (KM World).  It turns out that many companies are starting to realize that training and staff development are about getting people the skills and knowledge  they need, when they need them.  That's a pretty close definition for KM, too - being able to find what you know, when you need to know it. 

What brought this to mind was an instructional design meeting I had this morning with a professor who is trying to transform the way the quantitative elements of his discipline are taught.  There are tutorial handouts (Notes) that explain some highly mathematical concepts that are necessary for complete understanding of the market dynamics being taught.  They're important supporting information, but not the core point of the course.  Since the Notes are difficult for non-specialists to get through, and students are massively overwhelmed with other, more central learning objectives, the students rarely read them.  The professor:

"They're not interested in what's in the Note until they can't do something they need to do."

The solution?  Contextual learning, bringing information they didn't know they needed just when they need it, minimizing the amount of time it takes to absorb and apply the learning to the task at hand.  Sounds a lot like Knowledge Management, no?

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