TITI wins knowledge management Oscar

Sano Thimi, September 14:

The Training Institute for Technical Instruction (TITI) and the supporting project were awarded the first ‘Knowledge Management Oscar’ of Swisscontact, a Swiss Foundation for Technical Cooperation.

On August 25, 2005, on the occasion of its Project Managers Seminar in Switzerland, Peter Grueschow, the new president of Swisscontact, handed over the trophy and CHF 2000 to Ignaz Rieser, the Resident Representative of Swisscontact in Nepal. The Oscar is a public recognition for the development and distribution of the ‘Skill Card Concept’ among training institutions in almost every part of the world.

Beginning with one page in 1994, the Skill Card System started at TITI has now reached a distribution of 500,000+ documents; has been read by 37,000 people in 16 countries and in seven different languages, and has been borrowed for use by 18 different development agencies for use in their own projects worldwide. Beginning with the first Skill Card, Conduct Brainstorming, the Skill Card system now includes over 400 Skill and Concept Cards developed by 40 authors with an annually published CD-ROM, which is given free-of-charge to Swisscontact Projects globally.

Each Skill Card includes the ‘must know’ information needed by an individual to perform the stated skill or master the concept addressed. Each Skill Card has been thought of as a brick — a very flexible unit — bricks from which can easily be constructed a short training, a four-week module or a long-term training programme. Each Skill Card is a combination of the recent literature on the skill or concept as well as the tacit knowledge of the developer and training institution — thereby making tacit knowledge explicit and focusing the content on ‘what works’ in developing nations. It has been said that knowledge management is not about technology — it is about culture change.

The Skill Card System, right from the very beginning, represented a complete paradigm shift in the way a training organization thinks about instructional content and materials.

Whereas previously, content and materials changed with changes in instructional staff; with new staff inheriting the famous ‘empty file cabinet’ and having to start development from scratch.

The Skill Card System represented institutional agreement on content; instructional materials development as staff development; and a goal of always providing the learner with a high-quality instructional material. Developers gained much needed expertise and confidence as they proceeded through the Skill Card development process. Other instructional staff (users) were able to use the Cards to quickly prepare training sessions that delivered the agreed upon content. Students left the training with a valuable reference for the future.

The Skill Card System in use today started 11 years ago and has continuously been an integral part of the TITI instructional development process. An internal committee is now examining ways to continue the System after the end of Project support. The total cost of the Skill Card System to date is about $400,000. This represents less than $1 per card distributed — and that cost keeps going down. Nearly half of all existing Skill Cards, have been written by local trainers. All Skill Cards are reviewed by local trainers with revisions often made. The percentage of local development has grown over the past three years.

In Sri Lanka alone, the value of the System to the local project was estimated at $1.5 million. In Vietnam, Swisscontact staff report the value and impact is tremendous and was transferred to the entire vocational training system for much larger dissemination.