Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Unit 3 The Knowledge Worker - London Edxcel GCE [Applied ICT | Applied GCE]

3.1 Problem Solving

What shall I wear today? Which programme shall we watch? Many of the
problems we encounter and the decisions we make are personal and have
little effect on others. However, as an advanced ICT user and knowledge
worker, you will be faced with making decisions that have a direct, often
wide-ranging, impact on other individuals, groups or the organisation as a whole.

Once a problem is defined, specific information is required to make
decisions on how best to solve it. You will learn to process the information
you have available to create new information, thereby increasing your
knowledge of the situation.

Often you will find yourself faced with an enormous amount of potentially
useful information and at times with information overload — far too much
information available so that you cannot easily find the knowledge that
you need. You will need to discard irrelevant information so that you are left only with information that you can process. Most importantly, you must remember that technology can only provide you with potentially useful information — it does not create knowledge for you.

3.2 The Decision-Making Process

Informed decision making is a systematic process which takes into account all the valid information available.

As a knowledge worker faced with making a decision you will need to:

  • make sure that you fully understand the situation
  • search for information related to the problem
  • establish what sources of information there are and how reliable they are
  • identify gaps in your knowledge that cannot be filled
  • find out if there are any other factors which need to be considered, including constraints
  • select the information you will use
  • analyse the information
  • identify alternatives
  • make the decision
  • justify the decision
  • explain it to others

You will need to consolidate your understanding of this process by
considering examples, such as the problem of selecting the appropriate
season ticket for a business commuter. There are a number of factors to
take into account including the types of ticket available, the costs, the
availability, the number of journeys, time of day, holidays, etc.

3.3 Understanding the Situation

In order to stand a realistic chance of making the right decision, it is
essential to think things through.

  • What exactly do you have to decide?
  • Are there different viewpoints?
  • How does this decision compare with similar decisions you may have had to make already?
  • Are there variations from time to time or place to place?
  • How long have you got to decide?
  • What resources are at your disposal?

3.4 Sources of Information

When trying to make a decision you need to first establish what you know
and what you need to find out. You need to identify all relevant sources of
information and make judgements about their accuracy and usefulness.

You will need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do I need to know?
  • What relevant knowledge do I already have?
  • What are the gaps in my knowledge and can they be filled?
  • What information do I already have access to?
  • Where will any additional information come from?
  • How will I evaluate sources of information to ensure that content is reliable?

3.5 Other Factors to Consider

This is where your qualities as a knowledge worker are really put to the
test, as the best decisions take all available knowledge into account. Once
you have assessed the usefulness of information, you must consider other factors that might influence the decision, such as:

  • gut feeling — ‘I just know that this is the right thing to do’
  • emotion — ‘I will never forgive myself if I make a risky decision’
  • sentiment — ‘what will the others think?’
  • ambition — ‘how will this affect my career?’
  • lack of knowledge — are the gaps significant?

3.6 Making a Decision

You should at this stage have gained as much information as possible about
the situation. You now need to maximise your knowledge by analysing the
information and by testing out alternative solutions.

There are many ways of manipulating information to help you make
decisions but one of the most useful is that of modelling.
Spreadsheet models are powerful aids to decision making. A wellconstructed
model will capture the main features of a situation without getting bogged down with unimportant details. It will allow you to explore alternatives and predict behaviour under different conditions. The results of using the model, combined with all the other knowledge you have relating to the situation, should allow you to make a decision or recommendations for the future.

3.7 Computer Modelling

You will need to practise using spreadsheet models to help you make
decisions. But, bear in mind that the decisions you make are only ever as
good as the model upon which they are based! Before putting your trust in
a model — whether created by you or somebody else — you need to check
that it is correct.

  • Is the logic of the model correct?
  • Are the data formats appropriate?
  • Is the syntax of the formulae correct?
  • Are the cell references correct?

Before you begin to design and construct spreadsheet models of your own,
you will need to try out and evaluate a range of existing models. When
evaluating each model you should determine:

  • the process/scenario being modelled
  • what it does
  • how well it does it
  • whether it could be improved
  • which variables can be input
  • what the output tells you
  • the decisions you could make using it

3.8 Using a Model to Consider Alternatives

Once you are sure that a model is working correctly you can use it to see
the effects of various courses of action. For example, the model may
indicate the most cost-effective solution, but that is unlikely to be the
only consideration. You will need to decide:

  • which decision produces the best results
  • the alternatives
  • factors that differentiate between them
  • anything that the model does not take into account
  • what the impact of these might be

3.9 Justifying the Decision

Having considered both the results of your model and other factors, you
will need to use your knowledge to make a decision. As a knowledge
worker your task is not only to make recommendations based on the
information you have selected or derived, but to justify your decisions to
others. As you go through the decision making process you should record
your progress so that relevant documentation is available when you come
to present your report.

3.10 Reporting it to others

Your recommendations should include:

  • a summary of the current situation
  • sources of information and alternatives you considered
  • other factors you took into consideration
  • the methods you used to reach your decision
  • your decision
  • justification of your decision, supported by evidence of the decisionmaking

3.11 Evaluating a Model

You will need to be able to evaluate models. You will need to crossreference
your method of solution against the original objectives in
considering the following.

  • How well has the model performed?
  • To what extent has the model helped you to make the decision?
  • What else would you like to do?
  • Does the model need extending and, if so, how?

3.12 ICT Skills

You must be able to use a range of ICT tools and techniques to:
• carry out spreadsheet modelling tasks, including: —

  • entering and editing data, eg absolute and relative cell referencing, adding data and text to a chart
  • formatting data, eg colours, shading and borders, headers and footers
  • using formulae and function, eg mathematical, statistical, financial and relational
  • validating and checking data, eg errors in formulae, accuracy of results
  • analysing and interpreting data, eg filters, subtotals
  • presenting information, eg graphs and charts
  • modifying spreadsheet models to take account of requirements

• produce word processed documents that communicate effectively and
impart information to an audience, including: —

  • importing data from other applications, eg adding a spreadsheet graph/chart to a word processing document
  • formatting documents
  • creating document layouts, eg tables and columns
  • checking documents

• produce presentations that communicate effectively and impart
information to an audience, including: -

  • creating and editing presentations
  • formatting slides
  • inserting text, pictures and charts into presentations
  • importing data from other applications, eg adding a spreadsheet graph/chart to a presentation
  • checking presentations

3.13 Standard Ways of Working

Whilst working on this unit, you will be expected to use ICT efficiently,
legally and safely. You must adhere to standard ways of working,

• file management
  • saving work regularly
  • using sensible filenames
  • setting up directory/folder structures to organise files
  • making backups
  • choosing appropriate file formats
  • limiting access to confidential or sensitive files
  • using effective virus protection
  • using ‘readme’ files where appropriate to provide technical information, eg system requirements

• personal effectiveness
  • selecting appropriate ICT tools and techniques
  • customising settings
  • creating and using shortcuts
  • using available sources of help
  • using a plan to help you organise your work and meet deadlines

• quality assurance
  • using spell check, grammar check and print preview
  • proofreading
  • seeking views of others
  • authenticating work

• legislation and codes of practice
  • acknowledging sources
  • respecting copyright
  • avoiding plagiarism
  • protecting confidentiality


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