Inside SME’s Newest Training Tool: Knowledge Edge

Tooling U-SME has officially released Knowledge Edge, an online resource with expert validated content to ensure that industry professionals, students, and the professors and instructors who guide them can access credible teaching materials in various digital formats. IMT Career Journal had exclusive access to explore the features of the learning tool.

As professors blend virtual learning with classroom instruction, the credibility of online educational tools — videos, online reading, and more — remains essential. The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) points to a 2012 study by Bersin & Associates called Becoming a High-Impact Learning Organization that claims “finding the right information at the right time is a real challenge.”

To help industry get credible resources rather than relying on online videos or unverified information on the Internet, Knowledge Edge, which was two years in the making, features information validated by industry experts. “Knowledge Edge is a formalized resource for informal learning,” according to Jeanine Kunz, SME’s director of professional development, in an exclusive interview with IMT Career Journal.

She noted that information in Knowledge Edge is drawn from SME’s membership base, with regular updates from contributors that include professional engineers. “Tech professionals spend time learning informally, and with Knowledge Edge they can identify good, reliable content, [and access] information from 10 to 11 years worth of technical papers.”

There are various content formats for subscribers, including approximately 1,200 e-books, 16,000 technical papers, and 10,000 entries in the “Manufacturing Knowledge Base WIKI,” which is taken from SME’s longstanding nine-volume Tool & Manufacturing Engineers Handbook. The content is regularly updated and fully searchable, with illustrations, images, and a thesaurus to assist with research into various technologies. An “on-the-shop-floor” feature has interviews to help bring processes and technologies to life for learners.

Knowledge Edge is a supplementary tool to SME’s Tooling U, the original online training component of Tooling U-SME, (more can be found here).

A Customized Learning & Teaching Experience

Since no two students learn the same way, Knowledge Edge offers various learning methods so users can learn through formats that are most effective for them, which Kunz refers to as “self-paced learning.” Once a student is logged in to the mobile-friendly, 24/7 system, he or she can tag favorite videos, books, tech papers, and the WIKI resource, and can also preset customized “playlists” that are broken down into subjects, such as lean-basic, stamping, fabrication, plastics, and more.

Specific playlist subjects include introduction videos and “how-to” methods in text format. Subscribers can filter information and find out what others are viewing by referring to the “What’s Hot” section, which features top content viewed per week (and year) by all Knowledge Edge users, as well as content with the highest ratings and the most reviews. For convenience, individuals are shown the last 10 items they viewed, so they can keep track of their work.

Subscribers may notice that Knowledge Edge’s interface is similar to that of a popular media application: iTunes.

In an interview, SME representatives noted that the group has already partnered with a school on a Knowledge Edge subscription, and that the tool is an efficient way for professors to track students’ progress — instructors can see who accessed assigned content and who didn’t.

While the tool is also designed to be effective for corporate training, (such as sales groups that need to brush up on tech knowledge), rookie industry professionals, and small businesses, SME projects that the tool will be influential in schools for the “next-generation learners,” especially as high schools and colleges incorporate technical learning in their curriculums.

SME declined to comment on Knowledge Edge subscription pricing, but noted that it sets subscriptions on an individual and proposal basis from institutions.

For more information on or to demo the tool, visit the ToolingU website.


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