KMbeing

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

Monthly Archives: March 2013

A Thank You For Knowledge Exchange On The Job

Thank you

This week I had to say goodbye to a great job and a great team because my work contract has come to an end. What an amazing opportunity to work in the Knowledge Exchange (KE) Unit at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). I knew coming into the position that it would only be a temporary one, but I took the contract anyway, and the chance I was offered was a further step in a new career path to leave another behind – and I’m so very glad I took the chance. It’s said that if you can find a job you enjoy, it no longer feels like work. I say if you can find a team you enjoy, your colleagues no longer feel like colleagues and more like friends, and then your job no longer feels like work – no matter what that job may be.

After a few hugs, handshakes, a farewell lunch and some very touching greeting cards and emails (along with a potted plant – thanks Stephanie!) expressing how much my contribution and talents were appreciated as part of the KE team, and how much I would be missed, I was very moved and sad to be moving along. But I know our paths will cross again given our common interests in knowledge mobilization. And I know that I will have opportunities to stay in touch.

There are many people in the world who are much more comfortable preaching than they are practicing.  There are many people in the world who are much more willing to complain than they are to take action. There are many people who don’t take chances to make change in life but constantly talk about making a difference – yet never do. There are many people who never share their knowledge because they’re too afraid or feel too “stupid” to do so.

We don’t have to be like that. Knowledge mobilization is about listening to a diversity of knowledge voices, taking action and making change.

As long as we’re aware of the need to maintain consistency between our words and our actions, between sharing our knowledge and being open to the knowledge of others, we have a very good chance of making our life – and that of everyone on this planet – something we want it to be.  Our values, our beliefs, and our desire to sincerely share our knowledge to help our fellow human beings as best we can is what makes a difference. I believe when we are open to sharing knowledge and listening to a diversity of voices to connect our knowledge and create new knowledge for social benefit, we begin to make the world a better place – in whatever space we live or work in.

When we practice without preaching to others, when we share our knowledge with sincerity to make a difference, and truly give others a chance to do the same, people can sense our authenticity. They know that we’re being ourselves and not expecting them or ourselves to live up to some artificial expectations of “intelligence” or knowledge that we’ve created and built up, and they can relax around us, be comfortable with us, work well with us, learn from us – and we can learn from them.  When we move our own lives and actions to a higher level in whatever job we have, when we are open to sharing knowledge no matter how “limited” we may think it is – then we don’t even need to preach to others – our very lives will be all the message that we want or need to send to others as moments of shared knowledge.

Our lives become what we make of them.  They don’t just happen.  We do have a choice.

Our knowledge is what we make of it. Knowledge needs to be shared. We all can make a difference.

I have to admit that my CAMH job got off to a bit of a rocky start and there were some embarrassing mistakes that were made. I admit that I had fears, frustrations, and my critical side saw fault in others. But I had a choice to move forward, learn from the mistakes – or continue to blame by negating, cutting down or criticizing. I chose to move forward and learn from the mistakes – and recognize the same in others, creating greater team building along the way because of this choice.

Fundamentally, that’s what knowledge mobilization is all about. Knowledge is always moving forward to learn from mistakes, continue to create knowledge exchange and not barriers, to collaborate as a team to seek the best evidence to improve and make our jobs, our work teams, our lives, our world a better place.

Thanks again for giving me that chance as part of the knowledge exchange team at CAMH. I am very grateful.

It Depends On The Knowledge You Share

depends

Remember, changing the world doesn’t depend on who you are or what you own – it depends mostly on the knowledge you share and how you connect your knowledge to other people.

Storytelling, Social Media, Equity, Knowledge Mobilization & Donuts!

storytelling

Sharing knowledge by telling a story can make a presentation, blog or conversation more interesting. Why?

When I was five years old, I was hit by a car. I fractured my collar-bone and was unconscious for nearly 48 hours. Doctors feared that I would suffer brain damage due to the impact of hitting my head against the pavement after being thrown forward by the force of the car. Fortunately, I was wearing one of those Sherlock Holmes-style winter hats for kids that my mother thought looked so cute on me. Thankfully, the hat cushioned the blow. I recovered, but my skull – though healed – still has a fracture line that I can run my fingers along.

Sherlock Holmes hat     donuts

I blame free donuts as the reason why I was hit by a car.

I crossed the busy street because it was the grand opening of a donuts shop – and I wanted free donuts. Being five years old, I wasn’t really paying attention to traffic and more to the opportunity for free donuts…and…bam…thrown in the air to land on the pavement into unconsciousness.

What’s interesting about this story is that you are more likely to be able to visualize this incident and remember the details of the story with its connection to free donuts because of an emotional connection you’ve made to the knowledge I’ve shared. You would probably be less likely to do so if I simply presented this story with a list of strict facts:

  • I was five years old
  • I was hit by a car
  • There were free donuts

Since the very first days of tribal story telling, exchanging knowledge through stories has been one of our most fundamental communication methods. We all enjoy a good story. Ask any teacher and they will tell you that using stories to share knowledge is a much more effective way of retaining what’s being told. There’s also a neurological reason for it as well. When we are given information, the language processing parts in our brain are activated. When we hear a story many more parts of the brain respond. When a person shares knowledge through a story we connect intellectually and emotionally.

Sharing knowledge through storytelling is still very much a part of Aboriginal culture. I was reminded of this at a three-day Knowledge Exchange (KE) Training event this past week attended by Regional KE leaders and team members from across the province of Ontario. Day one of the KE training focused on marginalized populations and how to engage with these various groups, such as those that are homeless, of low-income, racialized minorities, Aboriginal (First Nations, Métis, Inuit), or from LGBT communities who are marginalized based on sexual orientation or gender diversity. A session focusing on the use of the Health Equity Impact Assessment Tool (HEIA) presented how this tool can be used to identify and address potential unintended health impacts (positive or negative) when developing a policy, program or initiative with specific population groups.

I can certainly see the potential of incorporating HEIA into a knowledge mobilization (KMb) strategy as it helps us better understand context and equity. Yet, a broader and still underused knowledge mobilization tool to include the knowledge of marginalized populations is social media.

At the KE Training Event, I spoke with several knowledge brokers about how I use social media – particularly Twitter – as an effective knowledge mobilization tool. I was surprised to hear that many knowledge exchange leaders at the event are still not using social media as part of their own knowledge exchange work. Certainly, EENet, the Evidence Exchange Network is one step forward in using social media as a knowledge exchange tool. Yet, as I wrote in an earlier blog, the greater potential of using Twitter as a knowledge mobilization tool is still not clearly understood.

One of the more enjoyable presentations of the KE Training event was from closing keynote speaker David Phipps – a person who knows how to tell a great story to share knowledge. One of David’s MobilizeThis! blogs is a great example of the power of story telling using social media for knowledge mobilization. In David’s engaging presentation, he illustrated how understanding context is essential for effective knowledge mobilization.

Fundamentally, Knowledge Exchange, Knowledge Mobilization, Translation, Implementation, K* (K-Star) – whatever you want to call it  – is about connecting the knowledge of PEOPLE. Each group has their own stories to tell in their own context – and each group can share knowledge through these stories. Knowledge doesn’t always have to be packaged in a formal, academic presentation or format. Sometimes simply being open-minded enough to listen to another person’s story – particularly those who are marginalized in our society – can be a powerful way of sharing and mobilizing knowledge.

But how do we engage marginalized populations using social media to better understand their context when some may not even have access to a computer? Or – more importantly – how can knowledge brokers collaborate with these often unheard voices and use social media for more effective knowledge mobilization?

One way that comes to mind is through digital storytelling.

I think of another great storyteller, Peter Levesque from Knowledge Mobilization Works, who also uses story telling as a KMb tool. Peter points to digital storytelling as “one of the MOST important forms of knowledge mobilization available to community-based organizations and citizens”. Peter uses a specific example of Aboriginal storytelling combined with digital technology as an effective method for understanding context, and conveying these stories through social media.

Additional examples of using social media for great and effective digital storytelling can be found at MindYourMind and HomelessHub who use both YouTube  and Twitter as knowledge mobilization tools.

As someone who strongly believes in the power of social media for knowledge mobilization, I see the combination of storytelling by marginalized communities using social media to convey context as an essential knowledge mobilization tool. If you’re a knowledge broker – how well are you incorporating this equity tool into your knowledge mobilization strategy?

Now, for some reason…I feel like having a donut!

No Knowledge Being Shared By Two People Are The Same

snowflakes

No two people are the same and no knowledge being shared by two people are the same. It’s impossible to say that all knowledge can ever be the same. Individual experiences and contexts create different knowledge.  Each person has different realities and perceptions. It may be possible to draw general similarities in knowledge and it’s always much easier to find differences in knowledge; but how an individual chooses to share their knowledge to find common ground for social benefit is what makes a difference. Learning to co-create new knowledge from diverse knowledge sources for everyone’s benefit is what makes the world a better place.

People Who Change The World Bring Out The Knowledge

change

People who change the world to make it a better place for everyone bring out the knowledge in other people for social benefit rather than harm.

Knowledge Mobilization Is About PEOPLE

people

Knowledge Mobilization is about PEOPLE – the push of research; the use of evidence-based research; the outreach to other multiple communities; the pull of knowledge from these other communities; the linking of multiple knowledge sources (often with the use of knowledge brokers); and the exchange of knowledge in various forms (formal journal publications, social and other media, research forums, in academic environments, and in informal conversations)

  • PUSH

  • EVIDENCE

  • OUTREACH

  • PULL

  • LINKING

  • EXCHANGE

Look To How You Share Your Knowledge

look

If you want to know how to change the world, look to how you share your knowledge and where it goes when it is shared.

140 Twitter Characters To Knowledge Mobilization

The use of Twitter as an effective social media tool for knowledge mobilization is still not understood. This was made clear to me by two things that happened this past week:

1)      I was actively involved in a discussion with several members of EENet – the Evidence Exchange Network where the use of Twitter for research dissemination was called into question

AND

2)     I performed a brief Twitter survey of the 16 classic Networks of Centres of Excellence in Canada (NCE) that focus on research-driven partnerships, and found that these NCEs are still not effectively using this valuable social media tool, despite the Government of Canada’s knowledge mobilization mandate for NCEs “to transform these discoveries into products, services, and processes that improve the quality of life of Canadians.

First, the EENet Discussion:

EENet logo

Melissa MindyourMind

Melissa Taylor-Gates, Social Media and Project Coordinator for the award-winning MindyourMind (@mindyourmind_ca on Twitter) was interested in hearing about what other members of EENet are doing “to engage in meaningful knowledge mobilization” and how people use social media to achieve this goal. She started the discussion-ball rolling. The conversation soon focused on the use of Twitter as a key social media tool for academic/institutional researchers to engage with a wider and more diverse audience about research being done. Melissa aptly called Twitter “the great equalizer” and demonstrated this point with an excellent graphic showing the difference between equality and equity (which I gratefully co-opted for one of my blog posts here), making a further point that using social media for research dissemination is “more than just making a paper available to everyone online, it’s translating the information into accessible means.”

Well said Melissa!

These comments sparked valuable discussion – especially around how to sift through the deluge of information to find accurate, evidence-based research findings and trusted sources on Twitter. (For more about sifting through what I refer to as data/information noise, see my previous blog post here). One member’s comment, “I devoutly hope that no-one would assume that they could get sound clinical research information from a tweet” and concerns about the limitations of 140 characters caused a flurry of counter-comments.  Many EENet members pointed out how to find Twitter sources for relevant and useful research to credible peer-reviewed journals and Twitter profiles using hashtags and hyperlinks.

Some of the key messages that came out of this discussion are that Twitter is simply a tool – just another medium of sharing information, good or not so good, that can be used properly or not, requiring further learning and skill to effectively use social media for knowledge mobilization.  In contrast to Marshall MacLuhan, in this case the medium is not the message – the content is the message. Yet, it’s an important social media tool that is no longer a fad or waste of time. Twitter is an effective tool for knowledge mobilization. For my practice as KMbeing, Twitter has successfully created knowledge networking connections with researchers and other stakeholders from Canada, U.S., U.K. and Denmark where we have continued knowledge collaboration offline and in-person at conferences and other events. Yet, like any social relationships, social media relationships also require time and regular tending.

 

NCE

Twitter survey of the core 16 of Canada’s Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE):

 Using social media – especially Twitter – as an effective tool for knowledge translation and mobilization is being adopted more by academics and formal institutions as a way of contributing to greater social benefit. Each day sees an increase in the number of Twitter accounts being created by universities and research organizations, but simply having a Twitter account and only sporadically posting information is not an effective way of using Twitter for knowledge mobilization.

As Canada’s preeminent Science & Technology investments, I was curious to see what type of presence the core NCEs have on Twitter and how they might be using this effective social media tool as one of the products and processes (mentioned on the NCE website) for knowledge mobilizing of multidisciplinary research from across Canada (and from around the world) as a mandate from Canada’s funding agencies:

Although my survey is only a very brief overview of average daily tweets, completed over a day on March 15th, 2013, it does reveal that only 11 out of 16 classic NCEs are easily found on Twitter, and that only four NCEs tweet an average of just over one tweet per day – which is clearly insufficient for effective stakeholder engagement.

NCE Twitter Survey
(click on diagram to enlarge)
(Note: Last tweet = number of hours since or date of last tweet)

Evidence shows that users who tweet between 10 and 50 times per day have more followers on average than those that tweet more or less frequently, and have greater opportunities for knowledge dissemination and engagement.

Tweets per day
So what does this say about missed opportunities for increased research dissemination and collaboration between researchers and research users using social media for knowledge mobilization?

 It appears that the Networks of Centres of Excellence have yet to fully embrace the potential of Twitter (and social media) as a valuable means of addressing key outcomes mandated for NCEs:

  • Mobilizing multi-disciplinary research capacity from across Canada
  • Engaging partners from multiple academic institutions and various public and private-sector organizations
  • Working with end users to accelerate the creation and application of new knowledge
  • Increasing collaboration between researchers in Canada and abroad

This is either because – like some EENet members – they’re not fully aware of the potential for research outreach and engagement using Twitter, or the NCEs have not identified this as a priority despite the evidence (presented in a book chapter that I co-authored) of using social media as a means of applying research for public benefit using knowledge mobilization.

For those still uncertain among Canada’s NCEs (and other researchers) as to how to best approach and develop a social media strategy using Twitter, here are some tips:

  • If your NCE doesn’t have one already – create a Twitter account. For nothing else, protect your brand by reserving your naming rights on Twitter.
  • Use a simple and descriptive name for your Twitter profile that will clearly identify your affiliation with your NCE and include a brief description of the research focus
  • To avoid what is referred to as “shiny object syndrome” – zoom in on pertinent subject matter by using Twitter hashtags which will also establish connections with topics, people and sites that are relevant to your research
  • Designate individuals within the NCE whose primary responsibility is for populating, maintaining and monitoring your Twitter account, ensuring they have the time and enthusiasm to consistently tweet and retweet several times throughout each day. This isn’t a full time job but needs to be someone’s job.
  • Don’t simply tweet without including links (unless you are engaging in the next bullet point)
  • Tweet with a 140 character conversation to connect with other national and international researchers and stakeholders in your discipline to facilitate the social in social media by engaging in dialogue and creating opportunities for further engagement online and offline
  • Regularly schedule a monthly evaluation of your Twitter account’s success and be prepared to realign your Twitter content and approach

Social media is not a fad, and the use of social media for academics and institutions is becoming more incorporated into strategic planning. Many researchers are now recognizing the value of using Twitter in a more consistent and productive manner for knowledge mobilization. Perhaps it’s time that some of Canada’s NCEs and mental health stakeholders do the same.

Equality Of Knowledge vs Equity Of Knowledge

equality-vs-equity

Not all knowledge is of the same value – but all knowledge for social benefit can contribute to making the world a better place.  The difference between equality of knowledge and equity of knowledge is providing opportunities to level the playing field in sharing knowledge.

Beyond Your Lack Of Knowledge

beyond

Stop worrying about the “lack” of knowledge you have and start sharing the knowledge you do have. Sharing knowledge – no matter how “limited” – can contribute to creating knowledge beyond your “lack”.