What are you doing right now? You’re learning. You’re reading my Blog and learning something. Okay I won’t vouch for the educational effectiveness or the quality of the content you’re learning from, but you’re still reading about me and my views. That’s learning isn’t it?
That can so easily be applied to so many other areas of learning, and it isn’t stopping with Blogs. Communities of Expertise are, in effect, Corporate versions of Blogs. Places to share gained knowledge and experience, a place of informal learning.
The problem is that the word Blog carries the stigma of a hugely technical person sitting at home writing about their project to write their own software to calculate the figures…blah, blah, blah. Corporate people think blogging is something that geeks do and only geeks are interested in.
Okay, imagine that the page you are looking at is entitled Company Projects and that this first page is merely a list of categories. These categories could be the list of Business areas within the organisation e.g. Human Resources, Technology, etc. Selecting one of these Business areas would then display a list of Projects being run within that area. For example, Office XP Rollout, DDA Policy review, etc.
Selecting one of these projects provides you with a list of the latest updates in the project site. These could be made by anyone belonging to the project with an update to give. A member of Technology updating on the new Server test carried out last night, an external Supplier displaying screenshots of a proposal for a new system screen, one of the customers who owns the project updating their requirements or signing off the latest changes. The list goes on for who and why they would be updating the site, it could be anyone associated to the project, stakeholders, subject matter experts, etc.
Each of these entries would be identified and sortable by the person who wrote the message, the area of the company to which they belong, the category to which the entry has been assigned – testing, design, budget, scoping, etc. – or even by date of entry.
Along with each entry would come the chance for others to comment on the entry. This could be restricted to those within the project group, or even opened up to all readers of the project site, a chance for them to give their comments and opinions or share learning that they’ve discovered from previous projects and experience.
There would be no need to continually visit the site to read the latest updates, or what’s happened over the past week because the information can be automatically sent to the readers as and when they logged on. It can even be displayed as part of their home page in the same format and look and feel, or on a page that gathers all the readers sites together in one place, or even on their Blackberry or PDA.
The reader could even choose what information they want updated on, instead of reading every update from the site they might only want to hear about testing, and you would select that feed only, which would mean that you would be “fed” the updates from the testing category only from that site. You could apply this to anything and receive only the updates from certain people, business areas, etc.
A single reader could end up receiving information from multiple projects, a few team websites and some external Internet sites all on one page, easily accessible to the reader from whatever device they are using and all in the same corporate or team style.
Gone are the requirements for daily or weekly mandatory updates on a project because they’ll be made immediately available to all who have access, displayed on their screen when they visit their homepage or look at an application running on their computer. It could even alert them automatically when an update is placed on the site. All without upsetting the technology and network teams in the organisation.
At the end of the project what is left is a repository of the project history containing documentation, issues, resolutions and learnings for the future.
It sounds like an ideal tool for informal learning as well as for creating group websites or monitoring projects and sharing information. So what’s the tool? Well you’re looking right at it, this blogging tool can do all that, and do it simply, cheaply and effectively, allowing all levels of staff to update and control the content on their site, or simply, just post an update.
Just because it is called a Blog on the outside is no reason to dismiss its potential as a tool for geeks or guru’s personal use to brag about how good they are. It can be utilised as a central store for information and learning where multiple authors or contributors can come together and share content, ideas and learning.
Personally I like the idea of using blogging in the workplace, more than anything it can be used by multiple team members to maintain an ever evolving team website, pushing information to those who want to read it and when they want to read it.
Hey, look at that, you just learned something, and from a blog no less!