Crowdsourcing the Future of Knowledge Mobilization / Crowdsourcing, le future de la mobilisation des connaissances

David Phipps, RIR-York
Next time you’re making a presentation consider crowdsourcing part of it.  It keeps you on your toes and allows for great audience engagement but also takes “chutzpah” to handle the submissions and the surprises.
La prochaine fois que vous ferez une présentation, pensez à faire appel au crowdsourcing. Cette façon de faire vous tient aux aguets et permet à votre public de s’impliquer de façon notable, mais cela demande également un peu de “chutzpah” pour faire face aux propositions et aux surprises.

Saskatchewan Literacy Network
Saskatchewan Literacy Network

I was invited to make a keynote presentation at the Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum 2012. I spoke about my predictions for the future of knowledge mobilization in Canada butI also did something I had never done before. While I was speaking I asked the audience to write down their own predictions. These were collected and I spoke to each of them off the cuff, commenting on the crowd’s opinions of our directions as a profession and practice. It was fun because it kept me on my toes and it allowed the audience to co-create part of the presentation. I wrote about these crowdsourced opinions starting on page 15 of the report on the Forum.
I did the same when I was invited to speak to the Saskatchewan Literacy Network on November 15, 2012. Since Bonnie Zink and Karen Rosser asked me to include social media in my presentation I asked the crowd to tell me what  they thought of social media and knowledge mobilization in five years.  Sidebar: let me give a shout out to Karen and Bonnie.  Karen for running a great forum and Bonnie for being… well… Bonnie. Bonnie is a great promoter of knowledge mobilization and communication. She is an über tweeter, blogger (see her guest blog on Mobilize This!), pinner on Pinterest… you name she’s probably there. She also knits (constantly) and likes cats… what’s not to love and admire about Bonnie!
Bonnie also transcribed the crowd sourced comments from the audience. There were 17 responses which I grouped as follows:

Group N* Example
Local to global 3
  • Global users of social media for policy makers, youth, adults to exchange information and decision making
Collaboration 3
  • Easier and or free access for learners to social media, deliberate collaboration – partnering researchers and community
Access 6
  • A smart phone will cost less than $10.00 and access to Internet will be more readily available – then only it will be an inclusive way of sharing information and knowledge
Norming 6
  • Will be the way of doing “business” throughout the province by connecting business/industry/education/communities
Critical thinking 2
  • If we don’t start thinking critically about social media, the future of knowledge mobilization is not very promising – research will get “translated” into superficial messaged and become useless in making a difference in real life situations
  • The policy-making half of the KMb equation needs to work on utilizing the knowledge

*some of the 17 comments were in more than one group
Norming is the increased use of social media as a standard tool of doing business. Access is concerned with ensuring there is equitable access to social media and other web based tools. I like that these two were more commonly cited than the others.  Norming is important as we are seeing a rise in the use of a variety of social media; although we have a tough time evaluating the impact and we need to think critically about our use of social media and not just jump on the latest social media bandwagon. For our critical thinking on social media in knowledge mobilization take a look at a book chapter that we published last summer. Access is also clearly an important element for a literacy audience where computer literacy and lack of literacy skills can be a barrier to use of some on line content. We need to ensure that there is not a digital divide between different knowledge mobilization stakeholders whether this is learner/teacher partners, North/South partners or community/university partners.
There are many benefits to including crowdsourcing in your presentations as mentioned above but it also can be risky as you need to be able to range far and wide beyond the boundaries of your planned speech or presentation. You need to be able to pull up factoids from the literature or from your practice or the practice of others to be able to provide meaningful commentary on the submissions. You also need to be able to lob the question comfortably back to the audience as I did with one access comment about literacy as a barrier. The audience knew way more about that than I did and I was pleased to moderate a lively discussion on that topic by various members of the audience. Access as a topic for the 2013 SaskLit conference, perhaps?
And then there are the fun surprises. There was one comment, “I think this conversation is going to see an expansion of knowledge mobilization. It will be a government department specifically focused on disseminating knowledge based on research”. Now there’s a utopian view of the future of knowledge mobilization!

Crowdsourcing word cloud