Knowledge Mobilization (KMb): Multiple Contributions & Multi-Production Of New Knowledge

Monthly Archives: February 2011

Featuring A Knowledge Mobilizer: Michael Johnny

Michael Johnny

Michael Johnny is one of Canada’s top and most respected university-based Knowledge Brokers. He is also Manager of the Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) Unit at York University. As a Knowledge Broker, Michael works as a liason between researchers at York University and research stakeholders. Michael facilitates university outreach collaboration and knowledge mobilization within the community of York Region and Toronto. He helps create partnerships designed to support research to better inform public policy or professional practice. His background in literacy working at Toronto’s AlphaPlus Centre for the Deaf, Native, Francophone, and Anglophone communities has provided an excellent foundation for effective communication and bridging required to work with the diverse sectors of researchers and community stakeholders.

Michael’s work also extends beyond the university and York/Toronto region across Canada working with ResearchImpact – Canada’s Knowledge Mobilization network. Michael helped build the Knowledge Mobilization Unit at York and the inclusion of six other Canadian universities (and growing) as part of the ResearchImpact network.

Also under Michael’s guidance at the KMb Unit, future policy-makers are trained by giving graduate students and post-doctoral fellows valuable experience working with a variety of stakeholders. The KMb Unit equips research trainees and their research collaborators with broader skill sets which they can then take into positions in the public, private, and voluntary sectors.

Some of Michael’s other passions (besides knowledge mobilization) include golf, cooking and red wine. See Michael’s description in his own words here.

Michael Johnny is one of the most genuinely friendly, kind and considerate people I know, and  I’m please to present him as part of my series Featuring a Knowledge Mobilizer.

Knitting Knowledge Mobilization

Do you knit? Do you like to turn yarn or thread into warm, comfortable clothing or snuggly blankets? I’d like to dedicate this blog to all of the knitters out there. Quite surprisingly, for some reason, I’ve found many of my colleagues in Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) are genuine “dyed-in-the-wool” regular knitters. Is there some sort of strange connection between people who enjoy knitting and knowledge mobilization? Probably not. However, it’s suspicious that both knitting and knowledge both begin with silent Ks! All humour aside, it appears that knitting remains a very popular hobby.

One of my dedicated blog and Twitter followers (whom I also follow regularly) is Bonnie Zink (on Twitter @BonnieZink). Bonnie is a writer, editor and a knowledge translation & exchange specialist, as well as being a social media enthusiast interested in Knowledge Mobilization. Her Twitter profile says she “loves to indulge in knitterly obsessions” which is clearly seen in Bonnie’s blog Stitching in Saskatoon.

Bonnie’s knitting blog is so popular that this past weekend, Bonnie tweeted: “A new “record!” Over 400 reads of the blog this weekend. Thanks! I take it as a sign that you enjoy what I #write.”.

Apparently there are more hits to knitting blogs than knowledge mobilization blogs! Why do you suppose that is? I’ve checked with many of my fellow KMb bloggers and they admit they rarely come close to that number on any weekend or daily level. Congrats Bonnie!

Another Twitter follower (and whom I also follow regularly)  is an educator, academic career coach and regular knitter is Jo Vanevery (on Twitter @jovanevery). Jo’s postings are always thought-provoking and helpful to those seeking academic direction, guidance and information. Amusingly, Jo continues to pepper several of her enjoyable academic blog posts with mentions of knitting.

And knitting is also the hobby of two of Canada’s top knowledge brokers,  Michael Johnny (on Twitter @mobilizemichael), and  Krista Jensen (on Twitter @atomickitty), whom I work with at the Knowledge Mobilization Unit at York University – and also part of ResearchImpact, Canada’s Knowledge Mobilization Network. I’ve never seen them knitting at work, but both tell me it’s a leisurely pleasure they enjoy. (To see some of Krista’s knitting projects link here There’s even a social networking site for knitters and crocheters called Ravelry.

Although I’m not a knitter, I did a little research. Did you know that originally, knitting was a male-only occupation? The first knitting trade guild was started in Paris in 1527. Today, thankfully and rightfully, it’s good to see woman are now as included in formally contributing knowledge as they are in knitting. It’s also good to see that men are also still knitting. I’ve been known to see a KMb connection in almost anything to help explain what Knowledge Mobilization is. So here goes with knitting…

You probably know that the yarn in knitted fabrics follows a meandering path, forming symmetrical loops around a path of yarn. These meandering loops can be stretched easily in different directions, giving knitting much more elasticity (and strength) than many woven fabrics. Depending on the yarn and knitting pattern, knitted garments can stretch as much as 500%. There are also many hundreds of different knitting stitches used by knitters, and different ways to insert the needle into the stitch.

So let’s say Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) is a process like knitting. Just as knitting relies on the continuous stitching of symmetrical loops, KMb relies on the continuous action loops of informing and being informed. As each stitch is knitted and stretched in different directions, so too is knowledge expanded when turned into action through mobilization.

Like the many types of stitching with many different types of threads, KMb includes many different knowledge sectors and individuals (cultures, communities, beliefs, academia, organizations, associations) brought together to be woven into a valuable knowledge fabric for the benefit of society.

My analogy might be a stretch (oh groan!), but like a path of yarn, knitting and knowledge through focused stitching and mobilization can create value that can move, extend and provide something good for others.

And as knitter and knowledge mobilizer Bonnie Zink says… “Happy stitching!”

The “Growth” of Knowledge Mobilization (KMb)

Unfortunately, I have been ill with a bacterial infection – and am actually writing this blog while in hospital this past week. There’s definitely something wrong with me – and not just for writing a blog from a hospital bed. To put it bluntly, my neck has a golf ball size lump that medical teams, blood work and CT scans are still trying to figure out. 

As I sit writing this with an i.v. drip hooked in my arm, I debated whether I should even write a blog (or even share my personal information). But as anyone who has ever stayed in a hospital can tell you, there’s plenty of time on your hands as you start feeling better, (yet aren’t quite ready to be released). I also owe something to my regular KMbeing blog readers, Twitter followers (@KMbeing), colleagues and supporters who might be wondering “what’s up?” with a lack of recent posts or contact. The good news is my doctors expect me to be released for further home recovery within a couple more days where I’ll continue using antibacterial medication with the hope that the golf ball in my neck continues to get smaller.

(This is my CT scan with my chin at the top. On the upper-right is my normal jaw line and on the upper left is my growth)

While in hospital, I’m still thinking about my work in Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) – particularly on a more personal level – not on my usual professional level as a Digital Researcher. As I interact daily with the daily rounds of how everyone here in the hospital seems to communicate – informing and being informed from many directions about how to improve my medical issue – I again see how KMb is more than just knowledge dissemination. KMb is multi-directional and multi-layered. It has a personal level and a professional level. KMb is not just about providing or exchanging information. KMb is about contributing personal knowledge to a range of people who also contribute collaboratively with the end result creating benefit or improvement.

Doctors, nurses, radiologists, medical students, and even other patients all contribute individually to a collective knowledge process personally and professionally. Personally, it’s important for me as a patient (or any patient) to learn from them to help me (or anyone) get better. Professionally, it’s also important for them to learn from the experiences of individual patients to provide better care for other patients and provide overall benefit to the greater medical profession. By providing and receiving a variety of inputs of knowledge (including abilities, experience, and stories) – not just information – improvement is made by health care teams both personally and professionally.

I have questioned and have been questioned by health care workers and other patients. I have listened to and have been listened to by a variety of hospital staff and other illness sufferers. 

This isn’t just due to my illness. I have always been a person curious about many things, asking questions, enjoying learning from the experiences of others, and teaching from my own. As my illness has progressed and runs its course, I’ve learned much about bacterial infections and the process of treatment that I never realized before.

In the end, this is probably the most personal KMbeing blog I will write. However, I feel and think it’s important to look inside AND outside our individual knowledge boxes. We need to unpack a few personal things on our professional desks and let everyone see, contribute to, and take away from. Then, the final improvement is not only on a personal level (my own health improvement), but also on the greater scale of social improvement through the growth of knowledge mobilization. (Ah-hum…pun intended).

Weekly KMbits & KMbytes 06-12 February 2011

Today’s KMbyte: Are community rights of knowledge more important than copyrights of knowledge?

It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance. – Thomas Sowell

Today’s KMbyte: What counts as knowledge?

Hoarding of knowledge may be an act of tyranny camouflaged as humility. – Robin Morgan

Today’s KMbyte: Is it more important to use the Web as a place to create a reputation or share knowledge?

Science knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity, and is the torch which illuminates the world. – Louis Pasteur

Today’s KMbyte: What is the role of a knowledge broker in measuring impact and outcome?

The fog of information can drive out knowledge. – Daniel J. Boorstin

Today’s KMbyte: What is knowledge stewardship?

Knowledge is never used up. It increases by diffusion and grows by dispersion. – Daniel J. Boorstin

Today’s KMbyte: In what ways do we complicate knowledge?

The recipe for perpetual ignorance is: Be satisfied with your opinions and content with your knowledge. – Elbert Hubbard

Today’s KMbyte: What are today’s knowledge structures?

Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice. – Anton Chekhov


The Evolution of Technology – The Evolution of Knowledge

I met an energetic and intelligent 84-year old man sitting beside me on the subway today. As I scanned my email on my iPhone, unaware of his peeking over my shoulder, he interupted me with the comment, “Can you see that tiny writing clearly enough?”  I showed him my iPhone and the ability to zoom in and out to make the letters larger at the touch of my fingers. He seemed rather astounded. I was rather surprised that he’d never seen this before given all of the hype around this new technology. I was making the assumption that he knew nothing of technology – he was going to remind me about the error about making such assumptions.

Engaging in conversation with this elderly stranger, he told me he had attended university in the 1940s and 50s and was hired by IBM to work on computer-calculators in Pennsylvania. He gestured with his hands and said he remembered when calculators were the size of an iPad today. He mentioned the first calculators manufactured in Canada were from Casio, a  Japanese company that opened up the first Canadian plant in the 1970s. He said he had looked all around the subway car and saw almost half of the riders using a digital device of some kind, and was extremely impressed with how far digital technology has evolved.

“Microchip technology changed everything” he said. “And they keep getting smaller” I said. Then he abruptly changed topic and told me he still had all of his original teeth and was just on his way to the dentist for a check-up at the next stop.  (I thought that was almost as impressive as his work with IBM). Then up he got and walked away – a brief subway conversation about the evolution of technology from a octogenarian’s life experience and point of view.

That conversation got me thinking not only about the evolution of technology, but also the evolution of knowledge – and the assumptions we make about knowledge. How often do we think about how knowledge gets passed on from one generation to another to improve the tools we use to make life better.

Knowledge Mobilization isn’t just strictly about learning and contributing to past knowledge from academics, or thinking about how to create new knowledge for the future by big thinkers.

Knowledge Mobilization is about sustaining vital links of experience and keeping connected to sources by being open to making new connections and developing real human relationships that are inter-generational, inter-disciplinary and multi-cultural. Like listening to the experience and knowledge of our seniors today (or those from other cultures) to help us reflect and appreciate where we’ve come from and where we are today to create a better world for all future generations. And one of the best ways to do that today is by social media. Thankfully, more seniors (up to 43 percent) are using social media to share their life experiences and knowledge, and social media is connecting different cultures.

Technology is not the sole property of one generation or one culture – and neither is knowledge. But if it is does not get passed on through the experiences of one generation (or culture) to the next by sustaining inter-generational (and multi-cultural) relationships – valuable insights, experiences and knowledge is lost.

So often we’re amazed by the “whiz-kids” who have become CEOs of social media companies working together with other “brain-childs” of today. I wonder how often they listen, learn and reflect on the past to develop something beneficial for the future rather than simply thinking about how much money they can make in the present.

On the other hand, how often has an older person been willing to expand their knowledge and learn from a younger generation full of new ideas and possibilities?

How often have you taken the time to speak to someone over 80 years old to inform and be informed about the evolution of technology (or vice versa)- and play a greater part in the evolution of knowledge?

That old man I spoke to on the subway may not have known about a new zooming-in-an-out feature on an iPhone or iPad to make things easier to read. But it reminded me about not making assumptions about another person’s knowledge. It reminded me to appreciate that the knowledge he contributed when he was my age helped shape our current knowledge – making today’s technology possible.

Weekly KMbits & KMbytes 30 January -05 February 2011

Today’s KMbyte: What are the new means of recognition for knowledge collaboration and creation?

It is the province of knowledge to speak, and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen. – Oliver Wendell Holmes

Today’s KMbyte:Does Social Media make us less human?

Knowledge about life is one thing; effective place in life, with dynamic currents passing through your being, is another. -William James

Today’s KMbyte: How can knowledge incorporate and respect cultural diversity?

Research is creating new knowledge. – Neil Armstrong

Today’s KMbyte: What is meant by sustainability of knowledge?

The universal Mind contains all knowledge. It is the potential ultimate of all things. To it, all things are possible. – Ernest Holmes

Today’s KMbyte: Does knowledge have national boundaries?

We don’t know all the answers. If we did, we’d be bored. We keep looking, searching, trying to get more knowledge. – Jack LaLanne

Today’s KMbyte: Does knowledge have standards?

Today’s KMbyte: How has crowd-sourcing changed our concept of knowledge?

Knowledge not applied will make no person wise.- Samuel Johnson


Featuring A Knowledge Mobilizer: Peter Levesque

Peter Levesque is the founder and Director of the Institute for Knowledge Mobilization and CEO of Knowledge Mobilization Works based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  The Institute for Knowledge Mobilization is focused on serving a variety of clients in a variety of sectors.  Peter has over twelve years of experience working with governments, research institutes, and professional associations on issues of Knowledge Mobilization, including exchange, management, social media, transfer and translation.

Peter is recognized as a successful leader in promoting Knowledge Mobilization throughout North America.

His career has included serving as Deputy-Director of Knowledge Products and Mobilization at the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, as Knowledge Exchange Specialist at the Provincial Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, and as Chair of KMb at Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation.  His early career included success as an entrepreneur and community developer.

Peter is also an experienced speaker, facilitator, and writer on knowledge mobilization issues. He also has several informative YouTube videos relating to Knowledge Mobilization.

Peter is a Fellow at the British Columbia Law Institute at the University of British Columbia.  He has been appointed as an Associate Practitioner of Social Innovation at SIG at the University of Waterloo.  He is an appointed scholar at the Monieson Centre at the Business School at Queen’s University at Kingston.  Peter lectures at the Centre for Continuing Education at the University of Ottawa.

Other affiliations include the management committee of the Ontario Knowledge Transfer and Exchange Community of Practice, an advisor to: DIALOG network at the INRS in Montreal, IPinCH project at Simon Fraser University, Conversation Works, and reviewer for the journal CES4Health.

You can also follow Peter Levesque’s Knowledge Mobilization Institute blog here or on Twitter @peterlevesque.

I’m pleased to present him as part of my series Featuring A Knowledge Mobilizer.

Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) and Social Media: Making The World A Better Place

Whenever anyone uses social media to join, contribute or receive from the process of Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) as part of a social media network there is a step from initial exploratory thought to responsible social engagement. Without a social network element – whether it’s posting (retweeting), commenting or forwarding links on Twitter or Facebook, uploading presentations on Slideshare, using Skype for meetings and voice/text conversations, or connecting to a professional network on LinkedInKnowledge Mobilization does not reach its full potential unless the social-interactive-for-the-benefit-of-others element is also established.

Anyone can ask a (one-sided) question, or do a Google search for a (one-sided) answer (this is exploratory), but online answers without experiential knowledge, discussion and social benefit (this is engagement) remain lifeless answers. This is simply Information Exchange (For the difference between Information Exchange and Knowledge Mobilization click here).

But let’s face it, not everyone adopts new technologies or new ways of networking. There’s a lot of buzz around social media, yet many in the workplace or your friends and family may still not ‘get it’ until someone points out ‘the how’ and ‘the why’ of creating a social media network – or even making the one you already have even better.

How about using social media to make the world better?

Now, before you think this is some “pie-in-the-sky” ideal where everyone connects to sing Kumbaya and hopes for peace, this is what using social media for Knowledge Mobilization can do.

When the social-interactive element is added, knowledge comes to life. When the social-interactive element is added to make society better, knowledge mobilization comes to life. Knowledge is turned into action.

Knowledge Mobilization is putting available knowledge into active service to benefit society – and using social media is a great way of putting knowledge into active service.

In the KMb literature the word silo is often used to describe the ways that organizations (but also individuals) shelter themselves and their knowledge, skills and experience. KMb is about breaking out of the silos and ultimately applying knowledge for the long term benefits of society. Using social media to inform and be informed by ideas, experiences, stories and personal and professional knowledge to make our world better is KMb at its most basic level – which everyone can contribute to and gain from.

Knowledge Mobilization is the overall flow and on-going and constant input and development of knowledge. It is the open process of putting available knowledge into active service to benefit not just one particular organization or field, but for the greater benefit of all in society. One of the most basic ways of contributing to this flow is by using social media.

I have been actively using Twitter (@KMbeing) to tweet and retweet posts and links, and I post blogs that I think contribute to knowledge for the greater benefit of society. But I also comment on others’ tweets, connect with fellow tweeters with more in-depth conversations on and offline, pass information to my friends, family and other colleagues on Facebook, and make comments on other blogs and share things that have contributed to my own knowledge with others. As each person participates in social media the knowledge structure changes and improves.

I’ve participated in online conferences/workshops and formal Twitter hashtag chats – like ResearchImpact’s recent Tweet a Mobilizer where a number of questions, comments, links and resources informed and provided knowledge through social media.

As a Digital Researcher and Knowledge Mobilizer, I’m also looking forward to the upcoming Vitae Digital Researcher Conference on 14 February 2011 to help researchers make the most of new technologies in their research. This conference physically takes place in London, U.K. and – as I am unable to attend in person (living in Toronto) – the great thing is that I will be able to participate virtually by social media. I will be able to see some streaming content online and post comments and interact in real-time on Twitter using #dr11. We can connect, socialize and collaborate with the world from our own physical spaces.

And from our own physical spaces we can use social media for Knowledge Mobilization to help transform humanity. By taking what each person has learned through their own experiences and knowledge, and using social media to inform and be informed, each person can develop and implement their own personal knowledge on a greater social scale.

Do you use social media for Knowledge Mobilization or just Information Exchange?

Are you still in a silo or do you want to make the world a better place?