Audience: Faculty, Instructional Technologies, Leadership, IT Staff
Technical Level: Middling
The increasing volume of digital information that researchers’ collect and create make the task of finding, capturing, organizing and eventually collaborating with digital data more difficult. Multiple silos of data (e-mail, files on hard dives, web documents and databases for example) exasperate the problem of finding digital information in a timely manner.
Fortunately the tools for organizing and finding digital information have finally started to catch up with the large pools of data that we are collecting. Vannevar Bush was ahead of his time back in 1945 when he envisioned a device that would allow and individual to store "all his books, recoreds, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory." (http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/print/194507/bush) Today we are very close to Bush’s 60 year old vision. There is no one size fits all formula for how a researcher will optimally manage their data, but rather we will look at a number of tools researchers at our University have used separatly and in combination to manage data organization, searching and citation, as well as facilitate knowledge sharing. Some of the software tools we will look at include:
– Desktop search tools (Google Desktop & Windows Desktop Search)
– e-Document Management (Onfolio, Firefox Scholar, OneNote, Evernote)
– Social Software (del.icio.us, Flickr)
– e-Conferencing (Skype, Msn Messenger)
– Collaborative Research (SharePoint, Alfresco, Silk, Plone, Groove virtual office)
– Real Time Document Editing (MSN Messenger Application Sharing, VNC, Webex)
The two major benefits that come from effective knowledge management and knowledge sharing are an increase in the speed and quality of the research being performed. Less time is spent looking for information that has already been identified, so that more time can be spend in analyzing and associating desperate pieces of information. Electronic tools can make possible collaboration between colleagues that in the past would have been difficult, if not impossible to do. A group of nine Law Professors at two Universities have used our some of our collaboration tools to successfully share research and collaborate in a way that would have been very difficult five years ago. Not all faculty and staff find every tool useful, but for some they present solutions to long standing problems.
Whether they realize it or not, most researchers are struggling with the mountains of digital data that they have accumulated during their careers. If shown the tools available to them to find, capture and collaborate, our experience is that many, if not most, will start to use at least some of these knowledge management tools to move effectively manage and share their data.
Play It Now!
University of Victoria Law School