Fostering Research and Scholarship Through Knowledge Sharing Activities

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Date Published:
January 20, 2011
Contribution:
Community Contribution

Describe The Approaches Utilized To Measure / Assess This KM Initiative: 

Besides anecdotal evidence of our faculty expressing their delight in learning new things, generating new ideas through collaborating with others outside their own fields, and simply enjoying the interactions created by some of the above activities, we tried to assess outcome measures (aside from the system and output measures calculated by use of Google Analytics and through our annual UMUC Research & Scholarship Inventory Survey). A key outcome measure in a university with over 300 doctoral students should be “knowledge generation”. Even though UMUC is more of a “teaching” university versus a “research” university, we still must have a cadre of research-active faculty in order to support our doctoral program (we have a scholar-practitioner focused DM (Doctor of Management) program versus the traditional PhD program). Knowledge generation, in this context, would mean developing new ways of thinking, synthesizing, and generating new ideas.

New metrics to make this happen include:

  • The number of colleague to colleague relationships spawned through the various knowledge exchange/sharing activities previously mentioned (especially important would be the relationships developed of faculty outside one’s own field for possibly increasing innovation);
  • The reuse rate of “frequently accessed/reused” knowledge on research projects and in teaching resulting in efficiencies and effectiveness;
  • The capture of key expertise in an online way (i.e., the number of key concepts that are converted from tacit to explicit knowledge in the knowledge repositories and used by those in the university);
  • The dissemination of knowledge sharing (i.e., distribution of knowledge) to appropriate individuals;
  • The number of new ideas generating innovative teaching, research, and departmental projects;
  • The number of lessons learned and best practices applied to create value-added (i.e., decreased proposal writing/development time, increased student/faculty satisfaction, etc.);
  • The number of “serious” anecdotes presented about the value of the organization’s KM initiatives;
  • The number of “apprentices (students or junior faculty)” that one mentors, and the success of these apprentices as they mature in the university.

What Do You Think Are The Main Unanswered Questions Or Challenges Related To This Field Of Work?: 

Having improved ways to assess these types of initiatives will certainly be helpful in the future. Liebowitz's book titled, Making Cents Out of Knowledge Management (Scarecrow Press) can be a useful reference to show how others have demonstrated value from their KM efforts.

What Was The Purpose Or Motivation For Assessing This KM Initiative?: 

The key motivation for assessing the KM initiative was to get an idea as to how well these knowledge sharing activities are being received and applied for knowledge generation and community building. Also, providing some measures are helpful for gaining further senior support and resources.

What Were The Most Important Lessons Learned About The Assessment Process?: 

The most important lessons learned were:

  • System and output measures are much easier to determine than outcome measures;
  • Senior leadership champion support can greatly pave the way (I was fortunate to have the support from our senior officials in the university);
  • Show value early in the process.

What Would You Do Differently Next Time?: 

I would place more emphasis in the recognition and reward system for encouraging research and scholarship at the university. In addition to our current knowledge sharing activities, we are considering the following:

  • Creating online communities of interest to stimulate discussion and collaboration worldwide related to research and scholarship endeavors.
  • Planning on scheduling a ShareFair to serve as a face-to-face and virtual meeting place for exchanging ideas for possible collaboration and innovation (see: www.sharefair.net)

What Advice Would You Give To Others Based On Your Experience?: 

Start early in defining the system, output, and outcome measures for your KM initiative. A grass-roots approach is fine for knowledge sharing, but it is even better having senior leadership champion ing the effort. We were lucky to have both.

Describe The KM Initiative: 

In my role as the Orkand Chair in Management & Technology, I was asked to spearhead and develop a strategy to further promote research and scholarship at my university, The University of Maryland University College (UMUC). With my background in knowledge management, this was a perfect opportunity to build and nurture a knowledge sharing culture for research & scholarship in order to complement our core teaching mission. UMUC has about 94,000 students and 3,000 faculty in 28 countries. Most of our courses are through e-learning. The KM initiative thus unfolded to be creating a knowledge sharing environment for promoting research and scholarship activities primarily among our full-time faculty and our doctoral students.

In order to make this a reality, the following implementation components, among others, were applied to focus on Internal Awareness and External Perspectives:

  • Created the One-Stop Access UMUC Research and Scholarship Site, through the help of the Library: http://www.umuc.edu/library/research_pubs/research.shtml
  • Created Flash objects of three KM-related talks, through the help of our Multimedia Faculty Lab, in order to spread further awareness of KM and insert these concepts throughout our appropriate undergraduate and graduate level curricula: http://polaris.umuc.edu/de/csi/2010_JayLiebowitz/ppt_syn/JayLiebowitz_index3.html
  • Developed monthly Brown Bag “Lunch and Learn” Faculty Research Seminars; Visiting Scholar Lectures; Orkand Chair Distinguished Lecture Series; UMUC Working Papers Series; Provost’s Best Paper Competition; Faculty Research Time Release Program, through the Provost’s Office;
  • Helped in creating SOARS (Student Opportunities to Advance Research and Scholarship) whereby our doctoral students present their work each semester in a poster session on campus.

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