Friday, October 15, 2010

The role of the Knowledge Worker in making Sri Lanka, the wonder of Asia

With post civil war Sri Lanka moving towards becoming the wonder of Asia, many innovative & strategic development initiatives are being introduced and carried out to accelerate the country’s growth, in keeping with the milestones set. In this context, it becomes imperative that Sri Lanka has a skilled work force to drive these initiatives to its successful completion.  With Sri Lanka making significant advances in the field of ICT, and with IT penetration reaching village level, the time has now come for us to embark upon creating a new era, where Sri Lankans would be on par or even surpasses developed nations with relation to the level of literacy and creating a knowledgeable and skilled workforce who would be sought after by every nation. This paves the way for individuals to develop themselves, thus, fostering innovation and research.

In the current context where the world has globalized, connecting many countries and people and with the advancements in information technology, which has created a ‘Information Society’, it has further evolved into the ‘Knowledge Economy’ or ‘Knowledge-based Economy’ which we see today, where people seek and gain knowledge through the use of the internet or various publications and through one’s own insights and experience. With an ever increasing competition amongst organizations, countries and even among individuals, the sharing and retention of knowledge has become a key factor in ensuring one’s competitive advantage and reinforcing one’s position as ‘the key player’.

“Those that know, do. Those that understand, teach – Aristotle”

“We have an obligation and a responsibility to be investing in our students and our schools. We must make sure that people who have the grades, the desire and the will, but not the money, can still get the best education possible - Barack Obama

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest - Benjamin Franklin”

Knowledge is in essence, experience, information and insights gained by an individual through time, or processes and practices of an organization. Knowledge management (KM) comprises of capturing, retention, dissemination and refinement of this knowledge into meaningful information. With eLearning solutions that provide formal learning becoming quite popular and widespread in commercial organizations, managers of Human Resource and Training departments are now quite comfortable with the idea that an increasing number of  training programs can be provided in e-mode. With this growing acceptance, there is also increasing interest in the area of informal learning or social learning.
The delivery of informal learning itself is undergoing a transformation, driven and inspired by the success of knowledge and content sharing sites such as Wikipedia, Flickr and YouTube and social networking sites such as Facebook. Two facts have been made apparent with the success of these web sites; first, that though many mediums of solitary entertainment are now available people still yearn for human interaction and second, that a majority of people who are in the possession of information, knowledge or entertainment content do like to share it with others, be it for fame, prestige, the simple need to help someone else or the desire to make the world a better place.
Another aspect that affects the sphere of elearning is the success of “Professional Networking” sites such as LinkedIn, where increasing numbers of people stay in contact with ex-colleagues and professional associates, be it to create new business or career opportunities or simply to maintain relationships. What is interesting is that this mechanism, with information that is only validated by one’s community of associates, is quite effective when the need to locate a Subject Matter Expert arises.
In today’s Information Era, where individuals require instant and easy access to information and the ability to transfer knowledge freely, it is imperative that organizations and institutions considers the retention and dissemination of knowledge and invests on a mechanism which would enable them to have an edge over competitors and to secure this invaluable asset of information for future use.

In order to succeed in this rapidly evolving context, an individual as well as an organization must equip themselves with the latest information, secure age old trade secrets and also retain the wisdom & knowledge, which a person gains through experience. In the context of an organization, due to employee turnover, the organization faces the risk of not only loosing experienced employees but also the knowledge & expertise gained by the individual. The only mechanism of securing this knowledge is by creating a knowledge sharing culture, where individuals are encouraged to share their experiences, thoughts and practical know-how, thus, creating a knowledge empowered worker.
With the advent of blogging, social networking, micro messaging and the creation of distributed corporate cultures, knowledge management has taken on a new face where social learning components, such as, rating, tagging, ranking etc. has been introduced into knowledge management solutions along with collaboration mechanisms of commenting, suggestions, bookmarking etc. as well, creating a complete knowledge management solution.
The iKnowledgeKMSTM was developed after an in-depth study of this sphere, incorporating Web 2.0 functionality, using Microsoft .NET as the platform. The product encompasses the capture of knowledge, in any digital or non-digital form, through documents, images, audio and video clips, and customizable work flows, to ensure that knowledge items submitted by users are verified before publication for mass consumption. The product reinforces collaboration and includes social learning features through commenting, rating, ranking, tagging, suggestions, flagging etc., to motivate contributors and to ensure accuracy & the continuous improvement of the knowledge base.
In this information age, knowledge management & social learning plays a pivotal role in the growth of an individual, an organization as well as a nation as a whole. Hence, it becomes crucial that we as an organization and as individuals, look into the use of this practice to gain and retain a competitive advantage and to retain knowledge and expertise of individuals within an organization, and finally in the country itself, thus, making Sri Lanka the true wonder of Asia.

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