Blog Post

Lighting the Way - Leveraging Knowledge for the Future of Settlement

By: Marco Campana
April 9, 2021

At the recent Metropolis conference, I was invited by World Education Services (WES) to participate on a panel looking at knowledge mobilization and knowledge management in the immigrant and refugee-serving sector. This panel highlighted the value of knowledge management and mobilization for informed decision-making within the settlement sector. Panelists discussed ways to balance knowledge mobilization while mitigating information fatigue, particularly as the pandemic has led to increased digital communication.

You can view it below:

I was joined by these other excellent and insightful speakers:

Behnoush Amery
Senior Economist, Labour Market Information Council (LMIC)
Behnoush Amery is a Senior Economist at Labour Market Information Council (LMIC). She received her PhD specialized in Labour Economics from the University of Waterloo, and has conducted quantitative analyses on labour market outcomes of students, job-related training, immigrants, and women. She is also leading a variety of projects including Future of Work and Now of Work annotated bibliographies at LMIC. Amery previously worked for the Ontario Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development.

Chiedza Pasipanodya
Program Manager, Knowledge Management, World Education Services (WES)
Chiedza Pasipanodya is the Program Manager, Knowledge Management at World Education Services (WES) where she draws on her experience in program and knowledge management to support the improvement of labour market outcomes of immigrants, refugees, and newcomers. Chiedza is an experienced immigration and refugee policy and programming professional who also uses her lived experience to inform her approach to supporting newcomers to Canada. Chiedza has a Bachelor of Arts (High Honours) in International Development Studies from the University of Saskatchewan and a Master of Arts in Global Development Studies from Queen’s University.

Shaunna-Marie Kerr
Senior Manager, Global Talent Bridge, World Education Services (WES)
Shaunna-Marie Kerr is the Senior Manager, Global Talent Bridge at World Education Services. Shaunna-Marie believes that all people should have access to the tools necessary to achieve their own definitions of success. Recognizing the power of place and identity as determinants in education and employment, she is passionate about the economic

Transcript of my initial presentation remarks

In case it's of interest, here's the text of what I said in my initial presentation, and in my answer to the first discussion question:

Knowledge mobilization (KM) is a way of translating academic research into information and knowledge that everyone can benefit from. KM aims to extract practical learning from existing resources (such as reports, interviews, community events) and create impact. It is an opportunity to share learning about innovation, research, or events.

KM’s goal is also to enhance two-way connections between researchers/innovators and community stakeholders and highlight relevant and useful research and evidence. KM can help to remove barriers to implementation and improve services. For example, continuing to extract and deepen key messages, lessons, and practical recommendations from a report, event, or meeting might target different audiences and offer them information that can help them to implement or take action.

A simple formula to think about KM is

What? What's going on? What's this report about?
So what? What's going to happen? What did the researchers do? What did they find?
Now what? What should I do now? What can I do with this information? Who can do what with it?

A tremendous amount of research and reports get generated every day. I’ve got a repository of over 400 reports on my hard drive alone.

Interesting research and Promising Practices are everywhere around us.

If we even hear about them.

If they’re even shared publicly.

And if they’re shared in a way that is accessible.

Creators of information can do a better job to make what they do more accessible, and answer the simple questions What? So what? Now what? Hence the Research Snapshot. Pioneered at York University, this template is used by academic and community researchers in institutions around the world.

In a simple 2-3 page template, a Research Snapshot answers:

What you need to know.
What is this research about?
What did the researchers do?
What did the researchers find?
How can you use this research?

At its core, a research snapshot gives a practitioner or someone with limited time quick answers to the question - should I use my precious time to even read this report?

The goal is to take a large report and quickly show how it might be useful to a targetted demographic.

On the other side, are information consumers. We can become better at how we consume, make sense of, and share information with our networks and peers, both formally and informally. Personal Knowledge Mastery or PKM is a framework of practical methods to connect work and learning in the digital age shared by Canadian consultant Harold Jarche. The idea is that we, as individuals take control of our professional development through a continuous process of seeking, sensing-making, and sharing.

Seeking is finding things out and keeping up to date. Building a network or community of colleagues is helpful in this regard. It not only allows us to ‘pull' information, but also have it ‘pushed’ to us by trusted sources. Good curators are valued members of our knowledge networks.

Sensing is how we personalize information and use it. Sensing includes reflection and putting into practice what we have learned.

Sharing includes exchanging resources, ideas, and experiences with our networks as well as collaborating with our colleagues.

PKM may be an individual activity but it is social as well. It is the process by which we can connect what we learn outside our organizations with what need to do inside. Research shows that work teams that need to share complex knowledge need tighter social bonds. Work teams often share a unique language or vocabulary. However, they can become insular, short-sighted and may lack a diversity of opinions. Social networks, on the other hand, encourage diversity and can sow the seeds of innovation. But it is almost impossible to get work done in social networks due to their lack of structure.

PKM is the active process of connecting the innovative ideas that can arise in our social networks with the deadline-driven work inside organizations.

So what can this look like in our sector? This is my personal attempt to start creating a KM framework for the Canadian immigrant and refugee-serving sector. Or, at the very least, move those 400 documents off my hard drive and into an organized public space.

Where I can, I incorporate the Research Snapshot approach in research descriptions. The goal is to provide immigrant and refugee-serving sector practitioners in Canada with a more accessible repository of information that is focused on helping them find potentially useful research, by focusing on what is useful for them and how they can use it in their work.

I encourage you to check out km4s.ca and share your work with me to help share with others!

First discussion question:

The concept of knowledge management has been around for decades, and started to emerge in force with the rise of the internet. Over time we’ve seen an increase not only in less reliable sources of information but also it seems in the will to spread misinformation. How does this change, does it change, your approaches to knowledge management, especially in this sector?

I think it makes good Knowledge Mobilization even more urgent.

At its core, Knowledge Mobilization requires understanding who you're sharing or sense-making for, their unique characteristics, information literacies, information practices, including how and where they access information. If we look at KM as helping to create a source of current, reliable, authoritative information we can connect researchers/innovators and community stakeholders to highlight relevant and useful research and evidence.

The pandemic is a great example where public health experts were slow to reach out to newcomer and racialized communities who have been over-represented in COVID case rates. Advocates sounded the alarm early on about the realities of health equity and social and economic equity issues that intersect in the social determinants of health. There has been plenty of evidence, but perhaps not enough knowledge mobilization. As a result we've scrambled to address the complex layers of language, cultural nuances around information, mis information and dis information, combined with the realities of low income among newcomer and racialized communities.

Resources also matter. Among other challenges, community advocates who sounded the alarm didn't have the same infrastructure as public health officials to translate and disseminate information among these communities.

To provide useful evidence and messaging to help counter mis or disinformation, and to ensure that information being shared is the right information, in the right format, at the right time, using the right delivery methods or channels for the intended audiences.

A formal KM approach should have incorporated existing evidence in public health decision making.

I love this way of thinking to share information within our organization, but I also think it is equally important to share information across organizations. How can we share information on a shared platform with everyone's buy in?

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