Designing innovations in organizational learning and knowledge sharing

The graphic below depicts an approach to help imagine and then design new innovations in learning and knowledge sharing where collaboration technology plays a key role.

430 design models approach

The first key step is to look broadly for inspirations – inside and outside of your industry or professional setting – where someone uses networks or communities to learn or share knowledge. Community of Inquiry, for example, is a framework that comes out of higher education but rarely considered for use outside of that setting. Crowdsourcing is not typically viewed as a knowledge-sharing or learning activity, unless we look at something like Open IDEO – which combines crowdsourcing and design process – as akin to problem based learning.

MOOCs, narrating-your-work, personal learning networks and communities of practice are other sources of inspiration. Many more exist if we choose to look for them (hackathons, ask-me-anything events, etc.).

The second key step is to look at each inspiration as a kind of model, something that you could reverse-engineer. How does the design work? What assumptions are being made? What unique challenges had to be overcome, and how does the design do that?

By doing this you can get beyond simply applying an existing model to a new environment. Applying an existing model to a new environment is not  a poor choice; it’s just limiting. A MOOC inside an organization is still a MOOC.

You can expand your set of potential innovations by hacking together new combinations of design elements that are sourced from a variety of design models.

For example: Both Community of Inquiry (COI) and the design process used by Open IDEO share a common backbone of identifying a complex problem and then seeking out potential resolutions through exploration and testing ideas. But COI also looks at the interplay of teaching presence, cognitive presence and social presence within an online course. Teaching presence includes the design of the course (in higher ed – think syllabus and pedagogy) as well as facilitation.

Might there be a way to design a course based on the crowdsourced design process used by Open IDEO, but which also includes structure and activities to facilitate the social, cognitive and teaching presences to deliver the learning benefits of COI?

Let’s say this course must reach 200 people. What do MOOCs teach us about how to scale effectively? And might it be possible to lightly engage a wider network by incorporating some narrating-your-work activities that are visible outside of the 200 course participants?

Note: This post is one of a series I am writing about the points-of-view and concepts used in a course I co-teach – MSLOC 430 Creating and Sharing Knowledge. 

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