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Knowledge Sharing and Learning in Virtual Communities

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  1. Knowledge Sharing and Learningin Virtual Communities Michael Bieber1 Ricki Goldman1 Roxanne Hiltz1 Il Im1 Ravi Paul1 Jenny Preece2 Ron Rice3 Ted Stohr4 Murray Turoff1 1New Jersey Institute of Technology3Rutgers University (SCILS) 2University of Maryland, Baltimore County 4Stevens Technical University

  2. Outline • Motivation • Virtuality • Research Approach • Knowledge & Community • Learning & Community • Virtual Community Issues • Research Questions • C-KLASS Tools & Prototype • Evaluation • Conclusion

  3. Motivation Why do people participate in virtual communities? • to attract customers/clients • for amusement • to socialize; find comfort (medical communities) • to network, build contacts • to improve what you do (job, personal) • find information/solve problems/learn from others ==> collaboration, knowledge-sharing and learning underlies most of these directly or indirectly Research Question: How best to support this?

  4. Goal Increase effectiveness by helping people share knowledge and learn through virtual communities

  5. Virtuality • = “distance” (requires asynchronous communication) • computer representation of information different from reality (alternate representations increase comprehension and exploration) • sharing experiences and perspectives • flexible organizational structure to meet changing conditions [Mowshowitz 1995]

  6. Community Members Researchers Practitioners Instructors Students Organizations serving the community(non-profit; for profit) Aspects Community interested in a specific domain Virtual communities larger than just society membership Supporting systems could be hosted by the society Focus: Virtual Communitiesaround Professional Societies

  7. Example Tasks (of individuals) • learning about the community domain • learning about relevant people in the community • teaching a course • finding materials on a research topic • mentoring members in research or learning • developing software using community research • developing/selling software to serve community

  8. Example Community Tasks(e.g., within a professional society) • running a conference • conducting elections • writing newsletter / submitting to the newsletter • making the budget • proposing & running a task force • recruiting new society members

  9. Outline • Motivation • Virtuality • Research Approach • Knowledge & Community • Learning & Community • Virtual Community Issues • Research Questions • C-KLASS Tools & Prototype • Evaluation • Conclusion

  10. Approach • Concept Building regarding knowledge and learning within virtual communities • Study testbed communities • Prototype tools • Prototype procedures • Evaluate • virtual communities • learning and effectiveness • the prototype tools and procedures

  11. Outline • Motivation • Virtuality • Research Approach • Knowledge & Community • Learning & Community • Virtual Community Issues • Research Questions • C-KLASS Tools & Prototype • Evaluation • Conclusion

  12. documents (published papers, reports, photos, videos, lesson plans, syllabi, etc.) discussions decisions conceptual models formal educational modules workflows/processes people’s expertise links/relationships among all these Community Knowledge Resides in...

  13. Knowledge & CommunityCommunity is important for knowledge • Social Network Theory: • people develop through exposure to others [Wellman 83] • Socially Distributed Cognition: • sharing generates new, more complex knowledge [Cicourel 1990] • shared knowledge becomes a public good [Kollock 1999]

  14. Learning & Community • constructivist, social activity • occurs through collaboration [McCown & Driscoll 1995] • occurs through knowledge building [Vygotsky 1962] • Knowledge Building:contributing to, authoring, discussing, sharing, exploring, deploying collective knowledge base [O’Neill & Gomez 1994; Perkins 1993]

  15. Virtual Community IssuesSustainability Communities need: • a clear purpose [Preece 2000] • sufficient social value (users, information, resources) • continued adoption, use and contribution by a critical mass [Rice 1990; others]

  16. Virtual Community Issuescontinued • size (scaling up) • diverse membership (time in community, experience, skills, education, language,…) • requires effective user interface & tools • how to promote virtual community infrastructure? • how to manage infrastructure?

  17. Outline • Motivation • Virtuality • Research Approach • Knowledge & Community • Learning & Community • Virtual Community Issues • Research Questions • C-KLASS Tools & Prototype • Evaluation • Conclusion

  18. Research Questions:Virtual Community Structure • What structural components characterize a healthy community? • How should VC be structured to promote knowledge sharing & learning? • How to adapt technologies to support structural components?

  19. Research Questions:Knowledge and Learning • How do different people create, understand, reuse, and learn from knowledge? • Kinds of knowledge & memory to support? • How do knowledge & learning improve effectiveness? • How to support knowledge-sharing, learning and memory?

  20. Research Questions:Improving Effectiveness • What activities do members do? • Barriers to knowledge-sharing and learning? • Interfaces and media to improve activities?

  21. Research Questions:Sustainability & Scalability • How to promote? • How will members “buy in”? • How to scale? • How the community should manage the infrastructure? • Factors for sustainability? • Providing on-going feedback for managing and sustaining?

  22. Testbed Communities • Asynchronous Learning Networks • ALN Research Site - pilot site • Hypermedia • ACM SIGWEB • Human-Computer Interaction • ACM SIGCHI, British HCI Group • Human Sciences (formally Home Economics) • Kappa Omicron Nu Honor Society • Pennsylvania Dept. of Education

  23. Outline • Motivation • Virtuality • Research Approach • Knowledge & Community • Learning & Community • Virtual Community Issues • Research Questions • C-KLASS Tools & Prototype • Evaluation • Conclusion

  24. Developmental Research • No integrated tools to handle the diverse forms of knowledge sharing and learning. • No procedures for how to use such an infrastructure effectively. --> Community-KLASS prototype (knowledge, learning and sharing support)

  25. Prototype Architecture Integration linking related documents • Digital Library: Multimedia Document Services

  26. Prototype Architecture Integration Discussing a document • Digital Library: Multimedia Document Services • Asynchronous Discussion Tools(Groupware)

  27. Prototype Architecture Integration Annotating a discussion Tours of documents and discussion comments • Digital Library: Multimedia Document Services • Asynchronous Discussion Tools/Groupware • Hypermedia Services(tours, annotation, linking)

  28. Prototype Architecture Integration Annotating and discussing a community process • Digital Library: Multimedia Document Services • Asynchronous Discussion Tools • Hypermedia Services (tours, annotations, links) • Processes/Workflows

  29. Prototype Architecture Integration Tour documenting a decision analysis linking supporting documents; Voting on a new process • Digital Library: Multimedia Document Services • Asynchronous Discussion Tools • Hypermedia Services (tours, annotations, links) • Processes/Workflows • Decision Analysis Support

  30. Prototype Architecture • Digital Library: Multimedia Document Services • Asynchronous Discussion Tools • Hypermedia Services • Processes/Workflows • Decision Analysis Support • Conceptual Knowledge Structures(concept maps structuring discussions)

  31. Prototype Architecture Integration Discussing, annotating, and linking documents to a CKS • Digital Library: Multimedia Document Services • Asynchronous Discussion Tools • Hypermedia Services • Processes/Workflows • Decision Analysis Support • Conceptual Knowledge Structures(concept maps)

  32. Prototype Architecture • Digital Library: Multimedia Document Services • Asynchronous Discussion Tools • Hypermedia Services • Processes/Workflows • Decision Analysis Support • Conceptual Knowledge Structures • Others...

  33. Prototype Architecture • Financial Transaction Support • charging for services (membership, workshops, training modules, copyrighted materials, supporting products) • Marketplace may facilitate creation, participation, and sustainability for a larger community • Digital Video • form for representing knowledge • saves time in communication

  34. Evaluation • focus on individual-level and community-level • Action Research: work actively with participants • Propositions/hypotheses and measures • Formative Evaluation to assess/improve tools (requirements analysis, usability testing) • Summative Evaluation to assess usage, impacts, satisfaction(direct observation, interviews, surveys, usage profiles) • Pilots on ALN community

  35. Contributions • in-depth technical and social analysis of supporting knowledge-sharing and learning within virtual communities • tools: integrated C-KLASS environment • procedures • approach for evaluating virtual communities

  36. Further Research • room for lots of collaboration regarding issues and tools • approach applies to other communities (educational, within companies, government-sponsored) • synergies with geo-local community informatics

  37. In Conclusion Why do people participate in virtual communities? • to attract customers/clients • for amusement • to socialize; find comfort (medical communities) • to network, build contacts • to improve what you do (job, personal) • find information/solve problems/learn from others ==> collaboration, knowledge-sharing and learning underlies most of these directly or indirectly Research Question: How best to support this?

  38. References • Cicourel, A. (1990). The integration of distributed knowledge in collaborative medical diagnosis. In J. Galegher, R. Kraut & C. Egido (Eds.) Intellectual teamwork: Social and technological foundations of cooperative work. (pp. 221-242.) Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. • Kollock. P. (1999) The economies of online cooperation: gifts and public goods in cyberspace. In. M. A. Smith and P. Kollock Communities in Cyberspace. Routledge London. 220-239. • McCown, R. R. & Driscoll, M. P. (1995). Using Collaborative Writing and Problem-Based Learning in the College Classroom. Proceedings of the Computer Supported Collaborative Learning Conference, 1995. • O'Neill, D. K., & Gomez, L. M. (1994).The collaboratory notebook: A distributed knowledge-building environment for project-enhanced learning. In Proceedings of Ed-Media '94, Vancouver, BC. • Perkins, D.N. (1993). Person-plus: A distributed view of thinking and learning. In G. Salomon (Ed). Distributed Cognitions: Psychological and Educational Considerations pp. 88-111.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. • Vygotsky, L. (1962). Thought and language. Cambridge, MA. MIT Press. • Wellman, (1997) An electronic group is virtually a social network. In S. Kiesler Culture of the Internet. Lawrence Earlbaum Associates: Mahwah, NJ. 179-208.