ODKM720. Collaborative Technologies for Knowledge Sharing

GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY
Professor Anne L. Washington, PhD

This class investigates how technology supports knowledge sharing between people. The course offers a conceptual foundation to support the practical work of evaluating, choosing, or using technology systems in organizations. This course is designed to increase your competency in understanding how people construct meaning through available tools.

Technology is everywhere. Some electronic devices are even designed to attach to our clothing so we are never without them. Are the devices attached to us, or we are attached to our devices, or are we attached to each other through our devices? A traditional view considers technology as static yet we all experience technology as constantly changing. How frequently do we upgrade mobile phones? A different view considers technology as dynamic mirroring the human communities it is designed to support.

Our perspective will be that technology is a tool to negotiate boundaries between people. While we will consider the intrinsic properties of technology tools, our main focus is how they are fundamental to identity, meaning and purpose. We will discuss how organizations use these tools to both constrain and support behaviors. Our goal is to understand how technology is used to construct meaning, share knowledge and build human relationships. A socio-technical perspective accounts for this dynamic of dual change.

A socio-technical perspective considers both the social systems and the computer systems. We will learn how to conduct a socio-technical analysis. We investigate collaborative technology in knowledge-sharing environments by understanding six distinct aspects. The collaborative and social aspects are people, process, practices. The social aspects define who is involved, how they plan to organize themselves and how they actually organize themselves. The computer and technical aspects are objects, design and content. The technical aspects define what is tangible, how architecture communicates meaning and how ideas are represented. We will learn how to recognize and describe these elements. We will go beyond description to analysis which considers how they are interdependent on each other. Our analysis will involve identifying the balance between stability and innovation that best suits each knowledge-sharing environment.

The course material invites students to consider substantive issues about the role of technology in society. This is not a technology training class, however, familiarity with state-of-the-art software is a marketable skill for any professional. We will take the time to make sure everyone is familiar with standard tools used by corporate virtual teams. Information communication technology is a medium of the written word. Be prepared to express yourself in writing.

We will study technology while using technology. We will study collaboration while collaborating with each other. We will study knowledge sharing while sharing what we have learned. The reflexive nature of the material invites us to consider how we position ourselves in relationship to the technology objects around us. Drawing on engagement, observation and inquiry, this course will increase your competency identifying effective tools for collaboration.

Bibliography ODKM720 – Technology