How can the relationship between knowledge and e-learning be leveraged to create learning? The main objective of knowledge management is to collect, store, disseminate and use knowledge throughout an enterprise. Knowledge objects can be documents, articles, PowerPoint slides, audio files, Web sites and other sources of information, typically made accessible to employees through a network and knowledge management portal.
The information or knowledge that is captured in a “knowledge object” can be used as a source for the development of a learning module. By using solid principles of instructional design, the information is restructured in such a way that it becomes an effective learning experience. Knowledge objects also can be included as referenceware in a learning curriculum. In this application, the learning professional must identify the most relevant knowledge objects for a specific subject area. Furthermore, they need to determine if learner access to those knowledge objects will support the overall learning experience.
The learning professional must ensure that the use of knowledge objects in learning programs is truly valuable. It is important to consider the overall learning objectives, as well as the desired experience for the learner. With a lot of rapid e-learning development tools entering the market, knowledge objects often may be converted into learning modules without asking whether there is any added value in this approach, versus reviewing a former, well-designed PowerPoint deck, delivered in Flash format with page-forward/backward arrows.
Once a decision has been made on how to use different knowledge objects, one must decide on the best way to present the learning modules and selected knowledge objects to the learner. One challenge is that knowledge objects are typically hosted on different portals from the learning modules, which are hosted on a learning portal that integrates with a learning management system.
The most effective way to address this is to integrate the knowledge objects and learning modules in a curriculum and give this a visual representation in a curriculum map. A learning curriculum map provides all learners with relevant information, supplemental resources, job aids, knowledge objects and learning objects to support their learning and certification needs. From this map, the learner can easily and efficiently access the relevant learning and knowledge objects that are hosted on a variety of portals.
Figure 1 gives an example of a curriculum map. This program provides learners with the opportunity to achieve an industry-accepted Six Sigma certification. Based on professional experience and completion of the curriculum, certification can be attained at a Green Belt, Black Belt or Master Black Belt level.
Benefits of the curriculum map concept include:
- It is an integrated learning approach using both knowledge and learning objects.
- Learning activities are tracked and reported.
- It provides a user-friendly interface.
- It is designed for learning purposes.
From a business perspective, it reduces the time-to-market of knowledge and skills globally and results in significant cost avoidance compared with the development and delivery of a completely classroom-based program.
Nick van Dam is Deloitte’s global chief learning officer and learning consultant in the Human Capital Practice. He is the founder of e-Learning for Kids and author of “The E-Learning Fieldbook.” E-mail Nick at firstname.lastname@example.org.