Sharing knowledge and being social.

Wherever we may be !

Learning tree instructors are located across the world. For each course that we teach we try to share information and provide feedback to each other. As I mentioned in my last post how I am located in Ireland and Dux is in Washington. It’s not always practical or desirable to travel so collaborating remotely provides a nice solution.

The Web provides the basic infrastructure for this to happen and SharePoint being a Web based technology provides the higher level details.

Knowledge Sharing

Organisations can gain great benefits by encouraging their employees to contribute by sharing knowledge and ideas. SharePoint provides the place to store and capture these ideas.

I often explain the benefit of this when teaching as follows (not sure where I heard this but the concept is great).

Two people meet in the street – each has a piece of fruit. Each gives their piece of fruit to the other. They now still have one piece of fruit each.

Two people meet in the street. Each has an idea. They each give each other their idea. Now both have two ideas.

Some fundamental tools for getting ideas and information out into the open are the discussions list and the Wiki library. Discussions give us a threaded forum style list and Wiki’s a series of linked pages. The wiki has become so popular in SharePoint that the home page for a new team site is by default a Wiki page. Wiki pages allow you to very easily create other associated pages. This allows you to build up simple knowledge bases very easily and go way beyond just two ideas.

Both concepts have been around on the web for a while but SharePoint adds to these features by providing – central Storage, Consistent look and feel, managed permissions and the information is automatically indexed for searching.

Social Collaboration

One area that SharePoint server 2010 has greatly expanded is that of Social networking and collaboration. This is found as part of a new ‘My profile’ feature area where you can store personalised data. Groups of colleagues can be created for sharing and finding information. A nice feature for example is that of ‘What’s Happening’ – a twitter like facility to let people know what you are up to (hopefully good thingsJ)

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With all the changes happening around us many companies are looking for the edge to stay ahead of the competition. One way is to find out more about their employees in terms of skills and knowledge that may not be apparent from their day to day work. Encouraging social networking within a business context can help identify previously hidden skills. The employee can share as much of this as they wish which may help their career prospects. Such information can be entered via properties on the ’My Settings’ page. Information such as this can be made available for searching allowing people to be found by their interests and skills as well as the more traditional fields such as email address, names and location.

A place of my own

Within the ‘My Profile’ section you can store your own personal content. When you select my content a new personal site is created for you. This was formerly known as ‘My Sites’ in SharePoint 2007.

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The idea is to have a place of your own where you can keep personal content which can be shared with people you identify as colleagues and public content that anyone can see. The image above shows the Shared Documents and Personal Documents folders used for this purpose. Within the ‘My Content’ area you can track updates from your colleagues such as blog posts, Tags they have added to content and so on. As this is all content stored by SharePoint it can be made available for search indexing.

Whilst our new SharePoint 2010 course will cover these in much more depth, hopefully this post may have stimulated your interest in looking at some of the new and existing collaboration and social networking features and of course a nice side affect of coming to a class is that you can discuss and share your ideas with a whole new group of like minded individuals.

Dave

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