Blog Post

We’re moving in the wrong direction when it comes to professional development, communities of practice, and knowledge sharing

By: Marco Campana
August 22, 2022

During the pandemic (which, by the way, isn’t over, so we probably shouldn’t abandon everything we’ve learned just yet), there was an explosion in sharing, open information, webinar recordings, accessible conferences, and an interest in knowledge mobilization.

Every document that reviewed what we were doing, learning, and wanted, all of which deeply consulted the sector and Newcomers, told us that Knowledge Mobilization was an essential goal, outcome, and destination we wanted to reach. It is in fact a theme that has come up for decades in our sector, in both discussions and research.

I'm a big believer in the idea that information wants to be free. This site exists based on that idea. To reveal and share useful and interesting information. 

Unfortunately, I think as we emerge from the pandemic our sector is moving in the wrong direction when it comes to professional development, communities of practice, and knowledge sharing, restricted to members or folks with certain access. We're moving back to siloed, in-person-only events that are not recorded or shared widely (and, no, sharing a PowerPoint deck has never been a replacement for the presentation IMO). Password protected community sites where information is hidden unless you're a member.

There is a place for password-protected sites, to have private conversations, to plan, to discuss without fear. But the information shared, resources, webinar recordings, research, progress reports, projects funded, and more, should be in a common public place accessible for all. Not just those who are funded, but all who are interested in creating welcoming and inclusive communities for Newcomers. 

I think this is what we need to be doing in the non-profit sector in Canada, in particular the Immigrant and Refugee-serving sector I work in. I haven't gotten around to forming my entire argument and pitch about it yet. But, I imagine it will be of interest to some, and maybe comments/discussion will help me form a more coherent opinion!

I believe that any research or project models, reports, toolkits, etc., that are created as a result of government funding should be shared for reuse. And it’s not at all a new idea or approach.

We have many models to choose from. Whether it's Creative Commons, Crown Copyright, Open Educational Resources, or some unique public domain/open license, whatever work is funded should be made available for anyone to reuse, remix, and share back with the same copyright/reuse guidelines.

I found a great model and manifesto out of the UK, the Open Working Toolkit, "a toolkit to help charities, funders and other organisations share their work openly."

Access the complete Open working toolkit:

This toolkit gives charities and funders the best resources for learning why and how to work in the open, share work and reuse work from others.

The manifesto:

This is for everyone

To build better services for those who need our help we need to work together – and that means being open. When we share what we know we help others learn, just as we learn from them.

Working openly means everybody benefits: you attract ideas, funding and people who can help. Others will accelerate their learning and make progress more quickly. Mistakes are avoided, work isn’t duplicated.

By sharing and reusing work, we can better help those who need us.

Make things open: it makes things better.

Sharing is caring

Catalyst in the UK, which has worked on digital transformation and open working even has a service recipes for charities site, "for charities that want to learn from others about the services they offer, for inspiration or straight-forward implementation." There are currently 82 "recipes" for inspiration.

Our sector had something like this with Good Ideas from Cities of Migration, but of course we shut it down... While the Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Migration and Integration has retired the project and site and created a tribute page to it, they have at least made some of the site resources available:

So what could or, dare I say, should open working look like in our sector?

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2 comments on “We’re moving in the wrong direction when it comes to professional development, communities of practice, and knowledge sharing”

  1. With a health care system trying to redefine itself and shared challenges related to lack of workforce and unprecedented wait times, now is the time for sharing of ideas, tools and true collaboration. Working in silos is counter productive when facing a common problem (think geese flying in a V formation).

    1. Thanks very much for your thoughtful comment, Lise. I see on your site that you have a very interesting and related knowledge-sharing project, the Francophone Immigration Health initiative I hadn't heard about this work before and I'm looking forward to exploring it, learning more about your approach and then 37 projects, and sharing it with others in the sector. Thank you for letting me know about your work!