Tribal knowledge: sharing and informing in the age of social and mobile learning

The tribe has a broader view of knowledge than the individual: it’s members collectively encompassing expertise in a wide range of areas, including areas of agreement and areas of challenge. This is a foundation of community: that people specialise and share their skills and expertise in return for mutual support and reward. If your skills are in demand, if your knowledge is current, your value is high within the community. If your skills are outdated or not relevant, you lose status.

Tribal Knowledge: learning, sharing and informing

Tribal Knowledge: learning, sharing and informing

One’s position within a community changes constantly: sometimes we make withdrawals, sometimes we deposit goodwill. We learn, we share, we inform.

Whilst the concept of tribal knowledge is fairly static, the ways that we access and contribute to it are changing: mobile technology is enabling us to remain more connected to our virtual learning networks and social learning communities in a more real time , synchronous way. The conversations that are enabled by this are more immediate, more relevant, more useful to support me in decision making and taking transformative action. The strength of the community and my ability to interact with it make me more capable, stronger. It reinforces my status within ‘real‘ communities too, through my ability to add value.

So the world sees us standing in a new place: within real, physical groupings and communities, surrounded by virtual networks and connected to social learning communities, all facilitated by technology. And the technology impacts on how i can interact with the real community: i capture my learning through technology (photos, mind maps, voice recordings, video), i use it to inform my thinking and my communication with others, and i share my results, i broadcast a narrative of my learning, all facilitated by the technology.

Mobile learning is about far more than just broadcasting e-learning courses to people: it’s about a mindset, about how we use the technology in that process of learning, informing and sharing. I use the phone to find things out, to access information, whilst i tend to use the iPad to share it: showing photos, sharing models, emailing links and content to people whilst i’m in the conversation. The technology enables me to do this seamlessly, to do it not as an addition to my conversation, but as part of it. It’s part of my tone of voice, my language of learning.

Sharing sits right at the centre of community: both social learning ones and real ones. In the new world, being generous with time, with content, with expertise is a differentiator for success, the value of content is no longer to lock it away behind payment gateways, in trying to sell it: the value is far more about our ability to use it to to proliferate it, to amplify our thoughts through the community and share in the rewards. Well, to an extent anyway. I guess i mean that there is more to life than just writing a book these days and hoping someone buys it.

So the concept of tribal knowledge may be the same, the idea that there is knowledge held within a community, access to which makes us more capable than we can be as individuals, but the ways that we interact with those communities, the very notion of what community means, are impacts significantly through mobile technology and the mindset of mobile learning. Just think about the communities that you are part of, the roles you play within them, the ways that you access technology, the ways that you share, the ways that you learn, the ways that you inform others.

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About Julian Stodd

A learning and development professional specialising in e-learning and learning technology.
This entry was posted in 'Just in time' learning, Broadcast, Collaboration, Community, Community of Practice, Conversation, Informal Spaces, iPad, Knowledge, Learning, Learning Culture, Learning Technology, M-Learning, Mobile Learning, Sharing, Social Learning and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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