This article is my presentation for Wellesley Institute's Community Knowledge Program webinar. Instead of slides, I've decided to take participants on a web journey through my Knowledge Mobilization approach. Below are the questions panelists were asked and my meandering answers.
The main tools I use to disseminate and share research information are:
Knowledge Mobilization for Settlement - my main knowledge sharing site and vehicle
The site went live in September 2019 and is made up of:
Good Ideas (23)
KM4S blog (349)
My goal is to provide a centralized site where you can find relevant research, good ideas, and blog posts that share recordings of webinars, interesting meetings, and summaries and discussions about important topics in our sector.
Technology in Human Services Podcast - my podcast
Weekly newsletter - my newsletter
Leveraging technology in the Immigrant & Refugee-serving Sector networking group - a small networking group that meets monthly to talk about sector digital transformation, supplemented with an email/discussion group
LinkedIn - where I share and overshare. 🙂
Canadian immigrant and refugee-serving sector communities of practice - where I post and am part of a number of groups
To help answer the questions: What? So what? Now what?
We have many communities of practice and research sites, but they tend to focus on their own research. It’s hard to know where all the research can be accessed. 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.
As well, typical knowledge mobilization focuses on academic research to impact, sometimes focusing on how a community can use the research. But not always. In my definition of Knowledge Mobilization I include you, service providers, as centres of knowledge that can and should be shared.
I have a very specific bias when it comes to publicly-funded information. 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.
My work on this site and my Knowledge Mobilization initiatives mirrors the sector. It's not funded, kind of done on the side of my desk, so I'm not able to do as much as I would like.
For example, scope and scale. My site tends to focus mainly on my areas of subject matter expertise, digital transformation, and Newcomer employment. There are numerous websites where research and reports are housed. I’ve identified 28 so far. For those in public view, I created a Google Custom Search tool to search them all:
I would also like to do more sensemaking of research, projects, and sector information as I am currently able to.
Seek > Sense > Share
Seeking is finding things out and keeping up to date. Building a network 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 knowledge networks.
Sensing is how we personalize information and use it. Sensing includes reflection and putting into practice what we have learned. Often it requires experimentation, as we learn best by doing. In our case, this is also sense-making for Newcomers, helping them navigate systems around them, be they community or digital.
Sharing includes exchanging resources, ideas, and experiences with our networks as well as collaborating with our colleagues. It also means how we share information with Newcomers to help them on their settlement journey.
I’m mainly able to Seek and Share or curate, but not always provide the important Sense step. For example, I would love to be able to take the time to create multiple pieces of useful and to-the-point content extracted from my podcast episodes. There is much wisdom and typically many themes that emerge withing a particular conversation. But you have to work through the audio or transcript to find them at this point. I would like to eventually create more articles, infographics, as well as connections to other content, ideas, reports, and more on my site and beyond.
To be able to truly answer questions like:
How is this relevant to a front-line worker? A manager? An ED? How could you use this in your work?
Ideally, each publication post on my site would answer questions like:
Some posts do have that information. When I'm able to take the time to dive deeply into the report. But for many, I simply want to make sure they're added to my repository, so they might have an abstract and summary of findings, from the report. But that language isn't always accessible for a non-academic audience.
Making content accessible and relevant to audiences is a key part of sensemaking.
When it comes to sector good ideas or promising practices, that provides sensemaking for a sector audience, we do have a growing repository over at P2P’s Sharing Settlement and Integration Practices that Work site. It's a great example of the idea of Knowledge Mobilization that includes you, service providers, as centres of knowledge that can and should be shared.
Each promising practice (41 currently) has a video where practitioners outline their project. Then there is a PDF you can download with common sections:
But this is a very formal academic approach where practices go through a formal application and vetting process. There is just as much value in sharing things that are in progress, that may not have even gone through an evaluation yet but show promise, that have failed but we’ve learned from, and that are not new or seemingly innovative, but simply work and should be shared.
Cities of Migration was such a site and project. The site is gone and archived now, which is truly a shame. But the 325 Good Ideas in Integration, dozens of newsletter editions that focused on sensemaking, a collection of “thought leadership” essays live on in PDFs, along with videos that captured monthly webinars.
I’ve heard mainly good things, and have forged some content partnerships to extend some project lives and move private content into the public domain. I think it's important to ensure that we have a living sector archive and memory of interesting and important work. I also think it's important to work with sector folks to bring their interesting work into the public domain.
ImmigrantChildren.ca Archive - 642 posts from 2008 to 2021
eSkills.ca archive - eSkills was a Service Delivery Initiative project funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). It was designed and developed by RRC Polytech’s Language Training Centre. It provides interactive, asynchronous digital literacy course available for both Moodle and D2L Learner Management Systems. Five lessons were developed and piloted with learners across Canada. The modules are available on Avenue.ca, but now also in public.
WES Global Talent Bridge Research Summaries - The WES Weekly Roundup began at WES as an internal scan to mobilize knowledge across teams and inform their work. Recognizing resource and capacity constraints in the sector, WES has partnered with KM4S to make the information accessible to all. The WES Weekly Roundup aims to curate information into one place for service providers and others in the immigration and settlement sector to access and stay informed on issues impacting the sector and the clients we serve.
There are sites, like the Centre for Excellence in Research in Immigration and Settlement that was funded for over 10 years, but then lost funding. What was also lost was their vast publications library. 83 working papers that reported on current research and its implications for policy and practice. 42 Policy Matters reports that provided accessible, concise information regarding current immigration research and its implications for policy development. Poof. Gone.
I have the documents on my hard drive. If I ever find the time I’ll add them and all the Good Ideas from Cities of Migration onto KM4S so they’re more accessible.
In every consultation related to innovation, technology, or collaboration over the past 25 years knowledge mobilization comes up as something that we want.
And IRCC even seemed to listen. In 2021 we saw them acknowledge important collaborative knowledge sharing work that needed to be done.
If any of this is happening, they ain’t sharing it.
This is just the latest recommendation to go to IRCC and the sector (from 2022 report The Future is Now: Strengthening High-Quality, Inclusive and Innovative Hybrid Service Delivery (2022)), but it sums up these 25 years of recommendations and aspirations:
Mobilizing knowledge means that all SPOs are funded, supported, and encouraged to participate in formal and informal information sharing mechanisms to build, share, and replicate sector knowledge.
Prioritizing Collaboration and Information Sharing Recommendations
Goal: A formal, funded knowledge mobilization approach fosters a shared vision, culture of understanding, and sector knowledge exchange.
Streamline communication and information sharing mechanisms and provide funding to promote collaboration:
Between IRCC and SPOs by
Among SPOs by
Between the sector and funders by
Between SPOs and the private sector by
Between sector and researchers, including academia by
My site and efforts are one small drop in the water. But hopefully, they can have some small ripple effects if you’re looking for useful information to inform your work around digital transformation, and supporting Newcomers' access to employment.