The Frid Factor: A Pragmatic Guide to Building a Knowledge Management Program

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An e-learning programme should be designed from scratch. This does not mean that existing course material has to be abandoned totally, just considered from a different perspective. Developing an e-learning solution does not need to take a long time either, so long as the initial analysis is done well and the right approach is adopted. There are a number of critical success factors involved in producing a successful e-learning programme, and many of them focus on the Learning Delivery Environment. They are discussed below.

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Firstly, like all major projects that involve organisational and process change, it is important to treat the effort as a formal programme. It is critical to have senior management support, as the programme can have impacts far beyond that of the implementation of new training courses. Many e-learning ventures fail because they have been regarded merely as a small project in the training department to convert training material to an on-line form.

Others have been driven as a technology project, with learning coming secondary. The programme should be managed by an overall programme manager with real accountability and visibility, and should produce documented deliverables. It should be given budget and staffing, including full-time people where possible to ensure focus on the project is maintained. The scope should encompass business strategy, organisational change and technology support as well as learning design and development.

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It is critical to match the plans for such a programme to the available resources and to other activities within the business. Many people overestimate their capabilities, and underestimate the time involved when planning their first e-learning programme. The e-learning programme must enable and support existing business objectives and plans, otherwise it will not be seen to add value to the organisation.

No programme can be contemplated without also considering the implications on the organisation and the effect of organisational culture and constraints on the programme. Often the culture of the organisation will dictate an approach to the learning. In practical terms, all constraints acting on the programme must be recognised — everything from budgets to skill shortages. Plans must be developed to manage within these constraints or to remove them.

It is important to understand the true learning objectives, both of the design team and of the potential audience for this learning. Time and money can be wasted if the learning objectives are not clearly understood by the design team from the beginning. Classic errors in designing e-learning programmes are made by comprehending the objectives for teaching, but failing to understand the objectives of the students. A clear picture of the students themselves must be gathered — everything from the basic demographic profile to the likely motivation, computer literacy and hours of study.

However, if learning is to be achieved from a distance over a longer period of time, often with a larger audience, using mixed methods of delivery, then the course must be carefully designed to meet the needs of the students before it is implemented. Last-minute additions can certainly be made, but should only be done to make the learning experience a richer one. When the context in which the programme is to operate is fully understood, then the appropriate model of learning needs to be selected.

An overall integrated programme may involve many different modes of communication, and will often be more successful than a monolithic single-method programme.

This process has already been discussed earlier see E-learning Dynamics Matrix above. Once an overall learning model and approach have been determined, then the content design can take place. Each individual component of the learning programme should be designed in a way to suit its delivery mechanism. Online learning must be designed to work as on-line learning, not as presentation slides forced into an online environment. In many cases, the on-line portions of e-learning courses contain far less content than their equivalent classroom courses.

The content needs to be designed to work in an on-line mode, and must be easy to read and use. It has to be consistent throughout and divided into sections of the right size for learning and concentration.

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Often the navigation path through the content should be designed so that it may be determined by the learner, rather than being set by the instructor or tutor. Content and activities within the course should be engaging and motivating to the students, and high levels of interaction planned where appropriate to ensure consistent contribution from the students.

Without periods of active learning the students will lose interest and may leave the course altogether.

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The right activities need to have the right delivery mechanism and a mapping of the learning objectives and activity definitions to delivery mechanisms is critical. Many people assume that classroom training should not be considered as part of an overall e-Learning programme, but it is often an invaluable component for items such as introductions, and for practice on specific physical or human-interaction skills. Online delivery mechanisms can range from a text-based facilitated discussion to an interactive simulation exercise, and could include audio or videoconferencing.

Each has its strengths and appropriate uses for different types of learning activity. Often an e-learning programme will involve development by a number of people simultaneously and design and development standards need to be put in place to ensure consistency and transferability of skills. Students are also far less forgiving in terms of inconsistency of user interface and ease of use than with classroom material.

Management and change control standards and processes often have to be altered to accommodate an e-learning programme. Changes can be completed far more quickly, and it is possible for many more people to have access to make those changes.

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Tracking of changes becomes more complex and the whole change control process usually needs to be reviewed. Developing e-learning solutions for the first time is a learning experience in itself for the team, and success is more easily achieved if the programme is divided into small achievable segments to minimise risk. Each of these segments should produce measurable deliverables and be seen to deliver visible business value, so that the overall programme justifies itself to the business and to the participants.

Prototyping is essential, as is selecting the appropriate audience for giving feedback. The first project should be considered as a pilot, not only for students but also for the whole design, development and delivery team. Multiple iterations of the content and approach may need to be made, responding to feedback, and based on the practical experience gained through the process.

The support model for an e-learning programme will often involve far more people with a wider variety of skills, compared to a traditional training programme. The staff will need to understand their new roles, be trained in the support process, and understand the change in support needs over time which inevitably occur in a major e-learning programme. Delivery of an e—learning programme is often very different from methods used in face-to-face situations.

The instructor needs to be more of a facilitator rather than a knowledge-transmitter. The students will need more process guidance but less content support. Student support needs will vary depending on the maturity of their experience of e-learning, and may need to be particularly heavy during their first course.

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If instruction or tutoring is now to be from a distance and spread over longer hours, then the rewards systems for the tutoring staff need to be re-evaluated to see if they are now appropriate. The staff with the subject knowledge may end up taking a much more removed but focused role in the teaching of a programme, which may cause some concern initially. They were also moderately effective for deriving digital soil maps over the state of New South Wales and a regional catchment. The models and derived maps compared well in predictive ability to those derived from more sophisticated techniques involving Cubist decision trees with remotely sensed covariates.

The readily understood and interpreted nature of these products means they may provide a useful introduction to the more advanced digital soil modelling and mapping techniques. The models provide useful information and broader insights into the factors controlling soil distribution in eastern Australia and beyond, including the change in a soil property with a given unit change in a covariate.

Additional keywords: bases, digital soil maps, organic carbon, particle sizes, pH, regression models, soil formation. Managers of credit unions were poorly trained and many credit unions were essentially structures created by village elites to harvest donor money. There was little emphasis on savings mobilisation or sustainability. These developments took place against a challenging background which included the Russian financial collapse of , severe droughts and floods in and , frequent staffing changes in the relevant ministries and allegations of corruption in high places.

The result was a crisis of confidence within the Government and the country at large, the withdrawal of the Finance Ministry's representative from the credit committee and a consequent two-year hiatus in implementation. Of the CUs, 35 were liquidated or merged and 71 were taken to court.

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The underlying causes of the collapse of the network were addressed by a fresh management team in early through the restructuring of loans and the re-commencement of lending. At project completion, there were 58 functioning CUs, three more than the MTR target, but one year later the number had fallen to The pro-poor quotas were abandoned after resulting in high delinquency rates.

Mobilisation of savings increased up to but fell sharply thereafter, leaving the CUs dependent on project credits. At completion, only around per cent of the total loan portfolio of the 15 top-performing ADP-supported credit unions was financed by savings, less than half of the internationally recommended benchmark. In , 80 per cent of loans were agricultural, but this led to repayment problems and the proportion has fallen to around 60 per cent, with successful CUs turning to commercial loans. Interest rates paid by borrowers ranges from 20 per cent to 42 per cent annually.

Land registration component. The ground survey of land parcels was conducted by private survey companies supported by the project in the form of technical assistance. Savings were made by means of efficient surveying methods, with the average cost per parcel reduced by almost half.

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To these savings were added the budget increase at mid-term, enabling the component to refurbish and computerise 11 regional and 37 district registries countrywide. Over staff were trained in legislative, managerial and technical aspects of land registration resulting in the emergence of an extensive cadre of officials with geodetic and cartographic skills. Project staff contributed to the first manual of registration, based squarely on the experience of the two supported district offices. The component was implemented originally through the State Department Land Management, set up in with technical assistance provided by the project.

NAPR currently acts as an independent and self-financing land registration and cadastre agency coordinating 67 offices countrywide.

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Around 4 million land parcels have been registered in different parts of the country. Credit to enterprises component. Two-thirds of supported enterprises were made up of canneries, wineries, livestock farms and hazelnut processing plants. Demand for medium and long-term credit was high and the repayment rate was satisfactory. Repayments were placed in a revolving fund from which additional loans were made until its transfer to the state budget.

Despite the bankruptcy of two participating banks, the government eventually received a sum greater than the value of the initial credit line, with interest payments more than compensating for the deficit on principal. Over 90 per cent of sub-projects were calculated to have financial rates of return of around 25 per cent at mid-term, well in excess of the projected rate of 15 per cent. Agricultural services component. Studies were conducted in the areas of irrigation development and the agricultural research and extension system.

No viable CU network. An effective CU network was not achieved under the project, with the actual figure of viable CUs now at around , per cent of the original target or per cent of the revised target. What has been achieved, however, is official recognition that sustainable village-owned CUs are feasible and desirable, given the appropriate management approach, training programmes and level of commitment.

The existence of two or three successful CUs and a further with reasonable prospects of sustainability, the emergence of an embryonic CU association and the corpus of lessons learned mean that the component can by no means be written off as a failure. The economic and political contexts posed formidable challenges to implementation in the early years of the project. Increased liquidity in land markets. Previous land registration procedures were lengthy and expensive, taking up to two months and involving extra-legal charges.