Sunday, October 09, 2011

Education is the next key sector for major disruption through effective knowledge management


It’s Sunday lunchtime and I am sitting by the Singapore river having a coffee.


I have my netbook connected to SingTel and I am thinking about my work this next week. This is with teams of people who are wanting to explore knowledge management to see how it might help their work in supporting teachers, and how to create and share even better knowledge, practices and methods for better teaching. They are the teachers training college, the National Institute of Education, NIE Singapore, and they support a community of over 30,000 teachers in 650 Singapore schools.


The question I have been asked by NIE to discuss thoroughly is ‘Why should they consider the latest developments in knowledge management in their work? What effects, if any, could the most effective knowledge management strategies, methods and tools have on even better teacher support, quality, productivity and even more innovative education? They are an innovative organisation with a mission and passion for excellence.

In considering the ‘why’ for any industry sector, it’s good to consider first any radical innovations that are already taking place.

So I will first point out to the group the work of the ‘University of the People’ the first tuition free global online university, more details here 

Then I will present to the group an overview of the MIT free online courseware, with over 2000 titles freely available on the web today.

I will then tell the story of a lecturer who I met at the ‘KM Asia conference’ three years ago, from Singapore University, who told me that students now come to lectures with iPads and wireless PC’s and smart phones, of course, and if they are not happy with the lecture they can instantly google the subject, find, for example, a world class professor from Harvard who has a free video lecture on the same subject, and circulate that to the class virally, whilst the lecturer continues unaware.

We will also discuss how students and conference delegates often tweet key messages and key new learning’s, ideas and insights to people around the world, as it happens, because their followers also like to learn from what the audience think and feel, and not just what the presenter/lecturer says. 

I thinks these four examples show disruptive innovation in a radically changing education environment, where the people can now choose and engage with the best in the world and, increasingly, free or very low cost.

Of course, online education and the more traditional physical, social, university campus and school learning experiences are both extremely powerful ways to learn, share, experience, develop and grow.

But I suggest to you that we are learning from the disruptive innovation in creating, distributing and delivering entertainment, like music, video and films, to major disruptive innovation in the education sector. And it is happening now. And I suggest that what I have just described above, is the ‘warm up’ act, with much more radical innovation to follow.

I suggest that effective knowledge management is a disruptive force, supported by new scalable tools and technologies that will contribute greatly to new and better ways to educate, across the world.

Let’s see what people at NIE think about these developments next week.

What do you think about education as the next key sector for major disruption through effective knowledge management? Is it happening in your country? 

Ron Young

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Friday, October 07, 2011

How Steve Jobs inspired me to start working with his vision of knowledge management in 1987

Steve Jobs 1955 - 2011

It was Steve Jobs who greatly inspired me in 1987/8 to start working with his vision in the practice of knowledge management.

Five years later, based on his vision, I founded Knowledge Associates in Cambridge UK. Today, I travel the world constantly teaching organizations ways that Steve Jobs could see in the late 1980's for people to work with information, learning and knowledge in radically new ways globally.

My business involvement with Apple, and Steve Jobs inspiration actually started in 1982 when my software company at the time, Systematics International Microsystems Ltd, was inspired to develop for Apple 'Apple Accounting' on the remarkable and radical Macintosh.

But in 1987, under Steve Jobs inspiration, Apple produced a video vision for the future called 'The Apple Knowledge Navigator' and, even at that time, he saw the prototype of what we now call the iPad. Twenty years later, that part of his vision became a reality.

But for me, he really inspired me the most through his further vision in this remarkable video, to link all the Universities together across the world, with key people communicating, collaborating, learning, sharing and applying knowledge together.

He had a vision for individuals, teams, organizations and communities to be able to practice knowledge management globally through the use of remarkable new mobile information and communication tools.

Ever since then I have been trying, with difficulty, to turn that part of his vision into reality.

What is remarkable for me, is that although KM practitioners had developed some exciting new KM theories, strategies and processes over the years, we never really had the simple to use, and powerful tools needed to support the theory. Then came Web 2.0 social tools in 2004 and, eventually, the iPhone and, especially, the iPad appeared to support knowledge workers in radically new, intuitive, and powerful ways.

So our challenge now is to show organizations how they can use these mobile and web based tools in the way Steve Jobs predicted.

I am currently working and writing this blog post from Singapore and I first heard the breaking news of Steve Jobs death in the morning coffee break yesterday, for the course I am running for the National Institute of Education at the Nanyang University Campus.

We were actually working at that time on the module that discusses the best practical tools to help individuals and teams practice personal and team knowledge management. We were discussing the use of the iPhone and iPad to tweet, blog, work with wiki's, work in social networks, web telephony and video.

I then felt compelled to play to the group the 'Apple Knowledge Navigator 1987' video on youtube. I am so glad this video is still available on the web today.

I would urge you to watch this 24 year old video and reflect on the accomplishments of Apple since.

Steve Jobs was a genius visionary and such an inspirational leader, within Apple, and to so many successful companies in silicon valley, and to so many people around the world.

Ron Young