Thursday, September 10, 2009

CSUN Graduates first Master's in KM on-line cohort

KM is alive and thriving at California State University Northridge.

We have just graduated our first completely on-line cohort from our Master's in KM (MKM) program and are now in the midst of recruiting for our 3rd cohort, which will begin in January of 2010 (the 2nd cohort began in January of 2009 and will finish in December of 2010). The students in this first on-line cohort came from across the country and from a wide variety of organizations and industries ranging from pharmaceutical companies such as Amgen, to the US Military (the Marine Corps), to aerospace (Pratt Whitney Rocketdyne) the energy industry (Chevron) as well as independent consultants. These students are now applying what they learned in the MKM program within their organizations.

The program focuses on the full range of KM topics that enable students to develop and help implement a "knowledge strategy" for their organization that is aimed - not just sharing, leveraging or creating knowledge -- but at improving the performance of the organization. The students learn about the history of KM and how it has evolved, they learn about the key processes and technologies that can help leverage and create knowledge as well as stimulate innovation and finally they learn the leadership and management skills that are required to be successful in today's knowledge based organizations.

The faculty for the program includes well know KM practitioners, such as Kent Greenes (if you don't know Kent - he is considered one of the fathers of modern KM with his pioneering work at BP and his subsequent work with a wide variety of clients around the world) as well as academics steeped in the knowledge of the disciplines that underlie a successful KM program. We also draw on faculty from organizations such as the US Army and their Battlefield Knowledge System (BCKS) as well as from consulting companies such as Ernst and Young.

But why would anyone what to take an on-line program? Of course there is the obvious reason - it allows students to take the program from anywhere in the world. There is no requirement for face-to-face meetings. What this means from the students is that they are exposed to and work with other students from around country and from a wide variety of industries. It also means that we can draw our faculty from literally anywhere in the world. Ah - all well an good - but isn't a distance learning program the "poor cousin" of an on campus program. As it turns out - no. What research is showing is that from a "learning outcomes" perspective (academic speak for what the students know at the end of program) Distance Learning (DL) programs are in fact superior to face-to-face. There are a variety of reasons for this. Two of them are (1) students tend to spend more time in a DL setting than in face-to-face and (2) as a result of the extensive use of what we would now call Social media tools (ie., wikis, blogs, forums and IM) the students spend more time reflecting on what they are learning, which leads to better "learning outcomes." If you want to see more on this there is an interesting paper just published by researchers at Stanford Research Institute (SRI) for the Department of education. I will warn you - that it is an "academic paper" so it's heavy on the methods - but the findings are very interesting not only from the perspective of education - but also for the KM implications and how we can effectively share what we know across and organization using DL techniques.

For more information on CSUN's MKM program you can go to or contact Barb Frye, Program Administrator (, or our faculty advisors Allan Crawford ( or Tracey Wik (