Aardvark as knowledge management/e-learning tool

So I have been playing around with Aardvark lately.

What is Aardvark? In a nutshell, it is a question and answer service. You ask a question, and you get an answer back from someone in real time. Aardvark’s job is to match your question with the right people to reply to. In return, you are also ask to answer questions by other with topics that you specified or suggested by Aardvark.

For the two weeks that I have been tinkering with it, I have to say that I am impressed. First of all, an Aardvark agent is added to my iChat contact list.

ichat screen shot

I like the fact that I don’t have to do anything and it makes it easy to use. When someone has a question for you, the agent would initiate a chat such as this:

question pop-up box in Aarvark

I can choose to answer it (by typing in “sure”) or skip it (by typing in “pass” or “busy”).

This past week, I have asked 8 questions and responded to 10. Each time I asked a question, the response time is on average less than one minute. In some cases, it is almost instantaneous. I have received multiple response and I am impressed that they are all knowledgeable, accurate and helpful replies.

Questions I have asked ranged from “What Web 2.0 tool would you recommend for collaboration project for college students” to “Which area in Calgary is good for a single professional to live”. Of course, the more specific your question is, the better it is for others to help answer it.

All these real time questions and answers led me to think about one thing – how come we don’t use such a system for e-learning and for work-based knowledge management? Imagine how handy this could be, if you get stuck on a tricky concept you are studying, what better to get clarifications from the collective wisdom of your fellow students. Tutors could be part of this community too, as long as they don’t get bombarded with tens of thousands of questions a day (though tutors can potentially monitor the questions and answers on the Aardvark’s “history” page to make sure that the questions are in line with the area of study). So how can we leverage technology such as this to benefit learning and training?

Come to think of it, this will be a question I should post on Aardvark 🙂

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