Open distance learning and knowledge management

Teoh Ping Chow
Wawasan Open University

Penang, Malaysia

Knowledge management (KM) was the buzzword of industry in the late 20th century. With the rapid development of the World Wide Web and Internet technology, industry had high hopes that KM would help to transform productivity and the way we learn. Unfortunately, KM seemed to fall short of these expectations. Businesses have gradually been leaving KM and looking for other solutions. Instead of dismissing the contributions and efforts of KM practitioners, KM has actually evolved into many different modes and infiltrated into our economy and education processes. One examples can be seen in education, in the form of open distance learning (ODL). While ODL in education was developed separately from the KM in industry, they are very similar in nature. Knowledge frameworks naturally existed in any of the learning and sharing processes. This paper discusses the inter-relationship between ODL and KM, and how processes in KM implementation are actually being applied in ODL.

The first part of the paper discusses the nature and perceptions of knowledge, and then it provides a comparison of the ODL process and KM framework. In this comparison, the knowledge spiral suggested by Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) is used as the general accepted KM framework. The paper further suggests how technology changes have led to the enhancement of KM processes and how ODL can be operated. In addition, it is proposed that emerging technologies, such as mobile applications, sensory technology and wearable devices, will further increase the effectiveness of KM and ODL. Through innovation in technology and processes, the ability to identify and use the most appropriate knowledge at the right place and time becomes the key for mutual success.