Alyson Langley is a Research Fellow at the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Nottingham (UNOTT). Alyson spoke to us to explain her work, and her colleagues’, as members of the Use-It-Wisely (UIW) consortium.
Currently, UNOTT are developing a Community of Practice (CoP) for the UIW project. A CoP has been identified by UNOTT and the UIW consortium as an effective form of knowledge management in a fast changing, competitive market environment.
Alyson has conducted research in to CoPs and has found that they contribute to organisational knowledge management in the following ways:
• Development of a knowledgeable workforce
• Improvement in efficiency and effectiveness
• Exchange of ideas, knowledge and solutions
As well as contributing to organisational knowledge management, CoPs have the following benefits for members:
• Keeping up to date with current information
• Creating partnerships and connections
• Dissemination of knowledge to wider population
• Creating an identity within the community
As UIW consortium partners are geographically dispersed across Europe, a virtual (online) CoP is currently being developed. Virtual communities communicate through a dedicated platform and share information such as news and events, publications, best practices, and also solve problems and answer questions.
Alyson has discovered during her research that a number of high-profile multinational corporations think that virtual CoPs would be of benefit to their industry. The UIW consortium aims to invite other industry stakeholders to participate in its CoP in order to share UIW results, and invite feedback and input from industry stakeholders.
Alyson is currently researching vibrant CoPs, and asks a number of questions of relevant stakeholders. Chief among these questions are: Is a virtual community of interest/value to their industry, and; Are they interested in Use-It-Wisely results? Alyson will now delve deeper in to her CoP research and development by writing a paper on participatory design of CoPs, and hopefully undertake a literature review of CoPs across different sectors.
UNOTT are also working across a number of activities in the UIW project, relating to the evaluation of systems, and user requirements. This human factors element is the cog between the system and the human