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Knowledge technologies in context

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This free course, Knowledge technologies in context, explores knowledge technologies; that is, software systems that can represent, interpret, formalise or interrogate phenomena and create models of how the world works. It demonstrates how a well-designed system can have positive effects on the work 'ecosystem', potentially allowing more time for people to concentrate on their strengths. Emphasising core concepts of representation, interpretation and situated use in context, this course will help masters students and those involved in specifying and designing software for business understand how such systems can help manage knowledge as well as providing a framework for evaluating claims made by technology vendors and researchers.

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • demonstrate an understanding of the importance of representation, interpretation and formalisation in relation to ICT and managing knowledge, giving appropriate examples
  • demonstrate an understanding of the concept of a ‘community of practice’ in relation to ICT, giving appropriate examples
  • demonstrate an understanding of the main functions that ICT can play in helping to manage knowledge, giving appropriate examples
  • demonstrate an understanding of the potential, and problems, of ICT for managing explicit knowledge, giving appropriate examples
  • demonstrate an understanding of the potential, and problems, in the relationship between ICT and ‘the tacit dimension’, giving appropriate examples.

By: The Open University

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Knowledge technologies in context


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Knowledge technologies embody formal models of how the world works. If well designed, these models can relieve people of mundane activities and free them up to concentrate on what they do best. At their best, knowledge technologies can detect patterns in information which are too complex for humans to detect, or which they do not have time to detect, and can deliver this information to the right people, at the right time, in the right form for interpretation. This unit looks at the core concepts of representation, interpretation, situated use in context and communities of practice to highlight how such tools are subsequently integrated into the cognitive, social and organisational flow of work.

You will see how new technologies can trigger changes in the ecology of work, which adapts to try to incorporate the technologies into work practice. In the worst case, no ecological niche can be found and the system is rejected or worked around. In the best case, the ecosystem works more efficiently because of mediating new activities technologically. Of course, there are many non-technological dimensions to understanding what it might mean to ‘manage knowledge’. However, it is fair to say that technology is a thread weaving throughout, and it appears now to be a permanent feature in knowledge management conferences and publications. Can ‘knowledge’ be managed as an objectified asset? And what does this mean in different contexts? In this unit you will explore answers to these questions.

This OpenLearn course provides a sample of postgraduate study in Business [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

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