Knowledge Management#2: From Sparks to Wildfire; Education’s first Route Maps

By divine providence, yesterday’s education conference #rEdRugby19 flagged up the important, and grossly underreported, work being done on Knowledge Management in education.

Billedresultat for scintilla spark logo

This interlude on yesterday’s education conference in Rugby builds on Knowledge Management: What business can offer education in the year of the Platypus. Although I stand by my comments that education is decades behind business when it comes to Knowledge Management (in spite of being biggest knowledge producer globally) I’m also the last man who’d want to sell my colleagues short. A big thank you to @JudeHunton and his crew at Rugby School for this insight (and many others).

The hidden forest of KM in education

I first want to draw attention to Niamh McMahon (@NiamhMc_2017), lead for Professional Development and Learning within CUREE, which is as close to a KM provider as you currently get in education. How many are aware of their online Route Maps for individualised teacher professional development & research that allows sharing and intersecting findings and experiences? The graphic below is essentially a map of actionable knowledge.

Enhancing Collaboration at Caludon Castle


It was very interesting to discover from Niamh how closely related Curee’s challenges are to those outlined by Alan Boulter, KM lead at global oil giant Schlumberger. His take on shifting from “bulletin boards” to cloud-based enterprise social networking applications is a brilliant example of how education doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel – we just need to speak to people who have a vested interest in the next generation of school leavers. I, for one, can only confirm the high level of excitement about engaging with education at the KM summit by people who have already been there and done that.

And Niamh is not the only educationalist who is onto KM. If you read the outline of Alexandra Ford’s presentation #rEdRugby19, you will see the connection to Boulter instantly: “…structure and effectiveness of teaching and learning community groups; the creation of a teaching and learning ‘language’; and ways to maintain a sharing culture of enthusiastic practitioners.” (I was very unhappy to have to miss her presentation for Mark Lehain’s, though I did have an opportunity to touch base informally in the very, very, very long and cold lunch queue). Alexandra may be contacted at FinhamT&L @finhamt.

Ironically, it seems that an internationally acclaimed system like Wildfire, from education’s own Donald Clarke, is mainly used by big business instead of … well, education. Why? Because business understands that harnessing the hyper-complex, ever-expanding chaotic pool of knowledge is the key to survival and success, and schools, in the main, don’t.

Evidence (Mis)informed Education: The Big Scam On a side note, the political leverage alone makes organised KM worthwhile for the education sector. After attending @joenutt_author‘s presentation, I’d say creating a counter-weight to dubious research by vested-interest think-tanks should be top-priority. I am integrating his disturbing input into a ongoing piece tentatively entitled Evidence Misinformed Education: The Big Scam triggered by Stephen Gorard’s horror-story Trials of Evidence-based Education. Get notifications of related posts on @WerdelinEdu.


Light the fire of learning with one Spark

In the realm of management of students’ knowledge, I recommend any head turned to the future keeps an eye out for Scintilla Spark.

For all its apparent focus on retention, their software is potentially a responsive, collaborative tool for building, negotiating, visualising and assessing @ClareSealy‘s concept of schemata across classes, schools, key stages and subjects for assessment and learning purposes. As should be the case in real life, “knowledge” and the capacity to retrieve it effectively is only the baseline – knowledge and retrieval only takes on true meaning when effectively applied to contexts. It is a great credit to Spark’s @mrBscintilla and his team that they recognise the crucial connection between software and in-class engagement with teachers and peers.

“…it is not about corralling, documenting and mapping information and filling it into appropriate heads – It is about understanding…”

David Gurteen, closing speech at the ARK Group KM Summit 2019.

Spoiler: If you’re hoping for this article to explain how some tech is going to solve for you the problems of Knowledge Management, you will be sorely disappointed. Real KM operates on a completely different level and will cost you more than money: Leaving your comfort zone is required. Enter Mark Lehain.

Behavior Management starts with Knowledge Management

Mark Lehain’s presentation yesterday on behavior policy really drove home that point when he discussed practical ways for teachers to encourage senior teams to embrace and implement supporting practices. Once again, Clare Sealy’s concept of schemata rears its head:

Let us say you have read a certain report on behavior management and innocently suggest to your headteacher that “silent corridors” might be a good idea, because in your mental scheme, this practice inculcates students with responsibility and respect for the mental and physical safety of others. Unhappily for that conversation, in your headteacher’s mental scheme, “silent corridors” is connected to zero tolerance, isolation booths and fascism.

Who do you see? A Man? Or his schemata?

Often, discussions are unproductive simply because we rely on assumptions about shared understanding and therefore fail to investigate and align our underlying schemata. Now, if this is a problem in a conversation between two people, sitting down for a topic-dedicated meeting, what does that problem look like when it is upscaled to a secondary school with 60+ staff? And what happens if you factor in the wider community of stakeholders? Students. Parents. Neighbouring residents. Local community organisations. Police. Now, upscale that again to a Multi-Academy Trust trying to formulate its values and vision.

Good luck with 30 pairs of teachers. (From the Knowledge Management Forum at Henley Business School. Courtesy of Dr Sharon Varney – brilliant image by Delta 7 Change).

Now you know why Schlumberger, City of London, Ministry of Defence, Syngenta, USAID and Kingsley Napley LLP are investing more and more time and money in intelligent Knowledge Management. Getting to grips with such issues is my true motivation for developing the Co-Creative Conversation. Roehampton University was just the start.

Heading towards you in this article series: The bigger picture of Knowledge Management in a global village of disintegrating narratives: “…a tribe gathered around the campfire, telling each other stories that make sense of the world.” – David Gurteen

This is one of my most fundamental gripes with EduTwitter: 200+ word micro-exchanges, that antagonists can enter and leave with no consequence, are not a forum for intelligent debate. I gleefully note that the negative consequence of reduced human contact by bandwidth and applications was a pervasive item of concern at the KM Summit. Again, 30 years ahead on cohesion, too.

As promised in Knowledge Management: What business can offer education in the year of the Platypus the next installment will will resume with David Gurteen’s advice to some of the biggest names in Knowledge Management industry. On the purpose of education, what the oil industry thinks of filling the pail with plane fuel, how to light the fire without getting burned, who survives in a VUCA world – and about why it may not be about finding a solution at all. Get notifications on Twitter and the COGS mailing list.

Read the Full Knowledge Management Series

The last word on KM & Education goes to Donald Clarke and WiQi/WildFire:

Opens in YouTube

Some further reading is the business end of

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