A revolution in the sharing of knowledge…

Transforming e-Knowledge
TABLE OF CONTENTS     Vignettes from the e-Knowledge Future   © SCUP 2003
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Tales from the Not-So-Distant Future (continued)



Chapter 2

Vignettes from the e-Knowledge Future

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Jurgen Schmidt —
Mobile Learner, Germany

Jurgen Schmidt is business development manager for his local chamber of commerce, and is also registered on an executive MBA course. Most of his fellow students use their lunch period to work on the joint assignments that are a feature of the course and then share ideas using email. But in his job, he is usually traveling back to the office at that time. This is because every morning he is sent to the premises of members or prospective members of the chamber of commerce.

On those visits, he often spots business opportunities for the people he is visiting, and knows he has a good chance of quickly turning those opportunities into real projects, if he is able to have immediate access to all the information held in his office. Every afternoon, there is a meeting of all the departmental managers, and he has to attend just in case they want his advice on business development, although most of the discussion is on issues that have nothing to do with him so in general he just sits at the back and gets on with reading his in-tray. When that meeting finishes, he has to write reports on his visits. The chamber of commerce has a clear-desk policy, meaning that every day’s reports and other administration must be
completed before staff can go home.

Exemplary Transformed Elements

  • Mobile work and learning environments
  • Ability to compete on time much enhanced by using mobile communications in a secure way to ensure anywhere, anytime access to other people and to knowledge repositories

Schmidt used to work long hours, but then he discovered mobile computing and ambient intelligence. Now, he is connected whenever he wants, to whatever and whomever he wants. Both while he is travelling to clients, and during his visits, he has immediate access to all of the facilities available in his office. He also subscribes to various instant alert services; they send messages to his phone via SMS (for text) and MMS (for pictures). His phone passes the messages to his laptop, which is connected to it using Bluetooth. His laptop connects automatically to the nearest wireless network, using open standard protocols such as 802.11a or b. Special security protocols, arranged previously, are observed to ensure that the transactions are private. He gets details of calls for tenders (requests for proposals) that are relevant to the people he is visiting. During his visits, he can join in ‘ad hoc’ workgroups, using 802.11a or b wireless cards to link his laptop to their office network, to share information. At any time he can check his office files, set up a conference call with colleagues back at the office, send emails and many other tasks that were previously only possible when he got back to the office. Previously ‘dead’ time, spent travelling or sitting passively in meetings, becomes available. At noon, he can join in discussions with his fellow students, even though he is sitting in the train, returning from visits.

During his sometimes boring afternoon meetings, he can write his visit reports and send them as emails to the office administrator. Life is less stressed. He now has time to look at ways to become even more productive. He sets aside some of his free time to undertake some benchmarking of other chambers of commerce and to check out their ways of managing knowledge. And he sends off his MBA assignment, which these days he is able to submit well before the deadline.

Resources of Interest

Mobilearn Project www.mobilearn.org



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  Education systems are communication systems and therefore they are networks which can exist at different fractal levels.

John Tiffin and
Lalita Rajasingham