A wiki is an online site that encourages the collaborative sharing of knowledge and information by its users (Baxter and Connolly, 2014). Because the content is user generated, users are also able to edit any of the content available on the site. Wikis are a great tool to use when information needs to be gathered from a large and broad audience. They are especially effective for the sharing of knowledge across groups of people that are geographically dispersed.
Tool for Instruction
A wiki can be used be used as an effective instruction tool. A need for 21st century learning is to incorporate technology into how we are instructing and engaging our learners. An example of this can be seen in my current class at CSU Global – Learning Technologies. In this class, we are building a web 2.0 tool to share the knowledge and information we’ve learned throughout the program. I chose to build a website, but another option would be for the instructor to build a wiki for the class. Each week we could complete our assignments on the wiki and other students could add or edit the content throughout the course. This would give everyone the opportunity to both build and edit content.
Integrating the Tool
At Express Scripts, we’ve used a wiki to gather information and knowledge in specialized areas of our operation. These are smaller groups with very tenured employees that just know how to do the role with no tools or resources. They have legacy or “tribal” knowledge in their heads that are not accessible to others. There’s a lot of risk for the operation when this situation exists. If the employee exits the organization, all of that information is gone with them. By creating this wiki, we essentially built the foundation for a knowledge management system for this department. We asked the experts to begin sharing processes on the wiki, and overtime, we’ve started to enhance those procedures. We did set it up with some structured topics and our facilitators have gone in and asked specific questions when there was a need for them to go deeper on a particular topic. This approach varies greatly from a traditional knowledge management system where there is one source of knowledge and content. This allows communities of experts to share their knowledge and insight to collectively create a better outcome (Nath, 2012). In the absence of any documentation, this tool has allowed us to quickly begin capturing processes and procedures that can be enhanced and used in training for future employees.
Launching a wiki requires some basic research, but like most like most topics, there many tutorials online that can assist you in building a wiki. If it’s a personal wiki than a tool like Wikia, Wikidot or WikiFoundry may be the best first step in conducting your research. If the tool is to be used in a business environment, a SharePoint may be the best tool to use since it’s a commonly used tool in business. To learn more about creating a Wiki I would reference the following two resources:
Baxter, G. J., & Connolly, T. M. (2014). Implementing web 2.0 tools in organisations: Feasibility of a systematic approach. The Learning Organization, 21(1), 6-25.
Nath, A. K. (2012). Web 2.0 technologies for effective knowledge management in organizations: A qualitative analysis. Retrieved from https://csuglobal.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.csuglobal.idm.oclc.org/docview/1022323855?accountid=38569
Unlike a wiki page, a blog serves as a repository for an individual’s ideas a content. According to Cromity (2008) “Blogs excel as communication media because they are easy to use, fun to have, and either free or inexpensive to create” (p. 32). For these reasons they can be great tools for learning and distributing Knowledge and information.
Tools for Instruction
Blogs can be incorporated into a learning event as a reflection exercise. According to Belz and Muller-Hartmann (as cited in Watkins, 2016) “reflection activities in online learning offers students the potential for self-directed learning and flexible structures for engagement, which can increase student levels of autonomy, emotional independence, and self-direction” (p. 6). Assigning a blog assignment to students that are learning information over a period of time is a great opportunity to reinforce learning through self-reflection.
Integrating the Tool
At Express Scripts, we conduct an eight week new hire training program for our call center associates. We could use personal blogs as a way for learners to reflect on their week, successes they had, challenges they faced and identify any questions or need for additional support. The trainers could review this weekly and reach out to individual learners if additional help is required. We use reflection sheets in the classroom today, but it’s a traditional paper and pencil exercise and doesn’t incorporate any technology that could be more engaging for our learners.
Getting started on a blog is fairly easy. A user really just needs to establish the concept or idea for their blog and then find software that has a theme or concept that aligns with its purpose. I recently built my first site using WordPress and found it initially challenging to use, but eventually got the hang of it. There are additional sites like WordPress that help users get started on building their own blog. Some of those sites include Drupal, Joomla and Blogsmith. Once complete, it’s up to the user to keep the blog current and relevant. The following resources provide detailed instructions for setting up a website or blog.
Cromity, J. (2008). Web 2.0 tools for social and professional use. Online, 32(5), 30-33.
Watkins, H. E. (2016). Finding the reflective learner online: Developing a richer model of reflection in a large-scale internet class. Retrieved from https://csuglobal.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.csuglobal.idm.oclc.org/docview/1868415978?accountid=38569
Podcasts are audio or video recordings that can be used to distribute information to an audience (Halls, 2010). Usually when the term podcast is heard, it’s most commonly associated with audio files, but it can refer to video as well. Podcasts can be a powerful way of getting chunks of information out to an audience in a quick and inexpensive manner (Halls, 2010).
Tools for Instruction
Podcasts are becoming increasingly popular as a way for communicate educational content to audiences. Sussman (2005) states “With audio programming now available to anyone with a computer and access to the web, companies are starting to look at podcasts as a means of enhancing employee training and development as well as reducing the cost of training” (p. 53). Podcasts can certainly stand on their own as a method of instruction, but can also be incorporated into learning programs as supplemental or reinforcement materials. Perhaps before an assessment in a training class, a podcast can be used to highlight key points in a program.
Integrating the Tool
While we don’t currently use podcasts today at Express Scripts, I can see an opportunity to do so. All of the employees in our training organization have the tools to record a podcast, we just haven’t taken advantage of them. I would love to see us use a podcast as a way to incorporate information from our subject matter experts. During our new hire program, we have a pharmacist that joins the class and spends about an hour with our new call center associates. They describe their role and when call center agents need to refer member calls to a pharmacist. It is very expensive to take pharmacists out of production to speak to a class and a podcast could be a great alternative. We could either have the pharmacist provide their presentation via the podcast or could incorporate an interview format with a pharmacist and a facilitator.
Like any recording, it’s best to start with clear objectives and a script. Without proper preparation, there’s a risk of the speaker going off topic and losing focus on the objectives of the podcast. In terms of equipment, Halls (2010) states “At the very basic level, you’ll need a PC, microphone, and a set of headphones. You’ll need to install a software package such as Audacity or Adobe Audition onto your computer to record and edit your audio” (p. 92). Equally important is ensuring that the audience has the equipment necessary to listen to the podcast. Listed below are a couple of links to help get anyone started on recording a podcast:
Halls, J. (2010). Give learning a listen: Audio podcasting and learning. T + D, 64(10), 92-93.
Sussman, D. (2005). Now hear this. T + D, 59(9), 53-57.