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Knowledge Management

My name is Arran, I have been working at the Informatics Centre for just under a year. My role here is a Software Developer, I do this as part time work as well as studying my degree in Computer Science. For my dissertation I chose to explore the area of Knowledge Management, focusing primarily on the Informatics Centre.

What is Knowledge?

It is first important to understand what Knowledge is, and be able to differentiate between Knowledge and Information. Knowledge can be defined as:

"Facts, information, and skills acquired through experience or education."

This would differ from Information which is:

"Knowledge communicated or received concerning a particular fact or circumstance."

Let's put this into context. I could give you this regex and told you that it validates an email address:

[A-Z0-9._%+-]+@[A-Z0-9.-]+.[A-Z]{2,6}

You could implement this in your application. This would be Information, presuming you have no understanding of how it works and you certainly wouldn't be able to write it from scratch.

Knowledge of this regex would mean that you have the ability to write this regex from scratch and manipulate it so it did what you wanted it to do.

What is the problem?

The Informatics Centre employee's students studying their degree within the University of Chester's Computer Science department. This gives the students invaluable experience on "Real World" projects and helps to enhance their employability after they have finished their degree. Whilst working at the Informatics Centre it became apparent that there is a pattern within the organisation; students will pass through the organisation whilst studying their degree and will continue onto employment, taking with them the knowledge and experience which they have gained. Therefore at the end of the academic year the knowledge in the Informatics Centre significantly reduces, and no progression is made.

So what is Knowledge Management and how is it the solution?

"The term knowledge management has been debated, defined, and redefined repeatedly"

Knowledge Management is a pioneering subject and therefore has no real definition. The Knowledge Management I was focusing on takes knowledge of your employees in an organisation and "Manages" it. In this case I wanted to make a system which employees could put their knowledge into whilst employed at the Informatics Centre. This would solve the reoccurring problems that some students who join the Informatics Centre may come across. It would also mean that at the end of the Academic year, some, knowledge would be retained within a system and this could be built upon over a period of time.

My solution

I came up with a solution which would support my argument that you need to understand the information you are given in order to develop knowledge. Therefore I implemented an Info - What - How solution. The knowledge would then be searchable with the ability to filter different tags.

Knowledge Management1

Figure1:The tags filter

Info

This is where the information or piece of code would go.

This should be the information you are trying to get across. For example. This could be a piece of Code or Instructions on how to do something. This should be kept this as brief as possible.

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Figure2:This shows an example"Info" section, the first of the three steps

What

You have just entered some code on the Information page now The following questions could be considered:

What the Code does? What technologies the code uses? C#, C++, What is other information is relevant?

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Figure3:This shows an example "What" section

How

This is how the code works. The following questions could be considered:

How does this work? How do you manipulate this to do other things? How can it be broken down into smaller steps?

Knowledge Management4

Figure4:This shows an example "How" section

Taking knowledge and breaking them down into these three steps provided useful for software development area but became tricky when trying to apply this rule to other area of knowledge such as the business day to day practises.

The system was only a prototype system and therefore further development would be needed to capture these other types of knowledge.

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