Sonntag, 2. Juni 2013

My "Teacher’s INN" group on Facebook - Best practice for Knowledge management in virtual communities...

After reading the article  from Dirk Langenberg, Melanie Welker…

...and in connection with my research work on my Facebook group Teacher´s INN the first sentence of the article was motivation enough to read the article and put it on my list of literature and fitting internet links for KM and networking.
“People with common interests meet in communities to exchange their knowledge.” 

The difference today to traditional meeting points like coffee houses, bars, restaurants, meeting rooms,…is the place where communities and groups can meet.
“Today, these communities are organized virtually in the internet.”
(Langenberg & Welker, 2011)

Like in my Facebook group there are no cultural or geographical borders, but in real life such communities, like my own group “Teacher’s INN” needs support to keep the knowledge transfer running and the members together.
In my case it has become a daily routine to keep an eye on my network and on the activities in the group:
  • Are there any new postings?
  • Are the netiquette and the intercourse between the members relevant to the goals of the group?
  • Are there any new members today?
  • Does the new member fulfil  the requirements of the group? (Teacher, headmaster, someone who works a lot with children…)
  • Is the member a “friend”?
  • Should I add members to my own social network and show more of my own person?
  • Are the posted topics parts of my goals and of the description of my group?
  • Do members use the group to politicize or do they just want to post news of the general education or school discussion?
  • Organizing my own posting and news.
  • What kind of member is he or she (active, passive, open minded,...) 
The article and the study give an overview about the cultural differences of communities, and it was also published in the Open Journal of Knowledge Management - Issue III/2011. Over the last years the internet and a lot of social platforms offer a tremendous variety of connecting and communication all over the world.
“…everyone knows everyone through maximum six corners. [...] if everyone knows everyone through six corners, the whole implicit and explicit knowledge of the world should be available through maximum six corners at the same time.” (Knoof  2007, 44).
Only with those connections and global knowledge transfer the business can face today´s challenges. Human beings and their networks can be seen as human capital and knowledge capital too. It is a matter of fact that members of such groups like “Teacher’s INN” are interested in exchanging on topics and ideas. They get and stay in contact with Facebook or other networks like Xing, Twitter or use their own blogs.
The article also deals with cultural differences, country-specific interpretations and language borders of the members, because those point play an important role within the communication and can “have a strong influence on the communication itself”.  (Langenberg & Welker, 2011)
The study of 2009 comprehended 25 knowledge management communities and more than 11 cultural oriented success indicators have been checked. One main statement of the study is “Different cultures and cultural backgrounds do have an influence on communication in general, but furthermore on communication in virtual surroundings.”  (Langenberg & Welker, 2011)
The study itself is not the most important part for my work or personal interest, but there are a lot of general statements in the study and the article which show the authority of my Facebook group and the hours of work which is hidden in the control, the administration and in the organization of link lists and content management. The following points are part of collaboration and knowledge management software platforms.
According to the article there are three challenges – also part of my daily work in the Teacher’s INN.
Communication between the members has to be improved.
(Posting, writing messages, chat, discuss…)
Effective sharing of knowledge has to be enabled.
(Members have the right to post links, open discussions…)
Management of a community has to be simplified
(There are two administrators, membership is free, everybody can leave the group, every member can add new members…)
One of the most important sentences for me “All members should use it intuitively and should feel integrated into the community.” (Langenberg & Welker, 2011)
“To improve the management of virtual communities, technical barriers have to be solved.”
(Langenberg & Welker, 2011) 
This statement describes why I choosed Facebook as a home base for networking with others in the virtual world.
All the members of the group seemed to be familiar with the technical possibilities of Facebook surface, and that’s why there is almost no need to support the network in the community. This fact cannot be argued away because not just in my opinion technical problems of such communities can often hinder the workflow and the communication in such groups.

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