A Design Experiment on Students' Perceptions of a Knowledge Management System
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Although there is a large body of literature exploring the topic of knowledge management, most of the focus is on its application to industry. Seldom has a research priority been placed on the use of knowledge management in a university setting. This research investigated the impact of applying a knowledge management system -- Knowledge Net -- to the students in a course about designing learning activities with interactive multimedia at the University of Waterloo. A design experiment method was employed. Eight students were engaged in the study. The purpose of the design experiment was to investigate the students' response towards Knowledge Net, their ability to absorb and apply the knowledge gained from Knowledge Net, and the incentives that encouraged them to share and retrieve knowledge from the system. The findings will be helpful for the people who want to practice knowledge management in a university setting. The study results revealed that initially students had a positive attitude towards the potential value of the information in Knowledge Net. However, at the end of their design experiment, they reported a low expectation that students could learn from and apply the information in Knowledge Net. The reasons varied. It may be that they failed to truly understand the knowledge or to trust the source of information. Many students habitually prefer face-to-face contact with their counterparts to computers. As a result, the study suggested a few ways to improve the absorption of knowledge and to enhance the behavior of knowledge sharing. These new directions include: arranging personal meetings between the providers and recipients of knowledge, playing videos of other students sharing knowledge on Knowledge Net, increasing the level of encouragement and guidance from the instructor on use of the system, and applying situated learning and case studies. In addition, grading students on their use of Knowledge Net may be a useful incentive to help students make more effective use of Knowledge Net.