Knowledge Management in Public Sector

Friday, November 1, 2013, 10:30am

KM and Digital Interaction in Latin American: Challenges and Opportunities in Higher Education

Sandro Jiménez-Ocampo and Guillermo Oyarce


The environment where higher educational institutions produce knowledge and make it visible is currently undergoing changes that are forcing a review of the traditional practices and interactions with respect to knowledge sharing. Knowledge outcome metrics, such as number of publications or accreditation and certification systems, are adopting international standards based on priorities and relevance indicators that are different or even strange to common practices of production and dissemination of knowledge. This is particularly true for LATAM (the Latin America region). However, in most cases, even meeting the standards is neither a guarantee of recognition nor the path to increased visibility. Another important factor of change is the global trend of transitioning from face-to-face classroom teaching to a new standard of online environments. Learning and collaborative inquiry requires now the mediation and intensive use of ICT. 

All of these factors present a succession of pressing challenges and opportunities on LATAM because the new ecology consistently overlooks the potential benefits that may result from horizontal and vertical integration of the traditional communities in the educational institutions. Horizontal integration would be directed to the core tasks of teaching, research and even social interactions. Vertical integration would aim to the possibilities of collaboration and virtuous production among students, teachers and academic peers in decentralized and distributed layouts. 

We argue that the success, visibility and positioning of a modern university does not come exclusively from accreditation and publication efforts alone but also from the judicious leverage of modern technologies to create novel environments, interfaces and digital mediations. Common physical areas would expand to simultaneously link previously separate spaces of knowledge production, information-rich clusters (i.e. libraries and research centers), broad-scope training areas, and other similar scenarios of interaction, including society at large. 

Many such efforts are already in the horizon. The formation of new communities is being facilitated by various well-established social media channels, which provide platforms for the formation of new communities and services. A diversity of Open Access initiatives and communities with a variety of interest is emerging and giving rise to a number of new ecological environments that connect academia and society at large. Opportunities to try these new environments in higher education seem to be straightforward. They are being facilitated by the fact that the target populations are already using them. 

This presentation contends that, particularly in the developing world, universities and other institutions of higher education, must adopt and promote practices and policies that take into account the positive effect that online environments and virtual spaces will have on knowledge sharing for their organizational matrix, for their mission and goals to produce and disseminate knowledge, and for their stated objective to enhance the visibility and reach of their knowledge assets. 

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