Virtual and Remote Knowledge Brokering

With COVID-19 and the push for working from home (if possible), we’re “Zooming” into more video-conferencing meetings more than ever. Reaching out to our RIC Network of 60+ members from ~20 universities across Canada, we heard that sharing and facilitating knowledge virtually and remotely has its own share of challenges.

In response, we wanted to put together a resource to help you with the constant “Zooming” into meetings. We hope to update this regularly and welcome your feedback for future iterations.  Please feel free to contact Connie at if you have any comments or questions. We hope you find this helpful and share this resource freely!

Sick of Zoom? You’re not alone

There’s lots of research about why/how video conferencing can be draining, for any number of reasons such as:

  • We’re using it for everything (work, social events, informal interactions, family events, online classes, doctor appointments…etc.)
  • It’s challenging to have parallel (and perhaps casual) conversations
  • We cannot see the full body language of participants
  • It feels unnatural to be staring at a version of yourself all day… and people staring back at us
  • We’re looking at a screen constantly
  • Virtually, silence is awkward

Pulling from some articles online, here are our top 10 tips to lessen your video conferencing fatigue:

  1. Take a few moments to settle and ground your attention before starting/joining the call
  2. Setting up a “Terms of Reference” at the start of the Zoom call, establishing best ways to interact with each other on the call (e.g., raise hand, type in the chat message, save questions until the end)
  3. Try using your phone and/or make video optional
  4. Don’t schedule back-to-back meetings and try to schedule a short break every 90 minutes
  5. Put your screen off to the side, instead of straight ahead
  6. Limit video/teleconferencing calls
  7. Turn off “self view” because we’re not unused to staring at ourselves all day
  8. Choose “speaker view” so that the one person speaking has more of the screen and others are more peripheral
  9. Spend time to check in to people’s well-being
  10. Take notes using pen and paper, instead of typing. This helps resist the urge to multitask


Resources for virtual collaboration

So, if we want to limit video calls, what else can we use for virtual collaboration? Here are some other alternatives that folks from the RIC network have used:

  • For Team Management: Microsoft Teams
    • Teams can have ongoing individual or group chats, and it’s integrated with video and tele-conferencing options. It has file storage and sharing to keep shared files organized and can integrate with other workplace programs (including mind mapping tools, virtual whiteboards…etc.)
  • For Visual Collaboration: Miro
    • Teams can co-create virtual mind maps, project plans, flow charts, and/or facilitate design thinking through extensive templates. This could be helpful as teams are planning projects, understanding flow charts, and establishing processes.
  • For Brainstorming: Padlet
    • Teams can contribute photos, documents, web links, video, and music to the same “board” or “virtual wall”. This could be a possible alternative for brainstorming video calls, and people can contribute and bounce off of other ideas in their own time.
  • For Project Management: Asana or Trello
    • Teams can keep track of projects, especially those that involve collaboration among many different parties. You can set up and keep track of timelines, boards, post-it notes, to-do lists — accessible and editable by all team members.
  • For Debrief / Retrospective Reflection: Funretro
    • Teams can add in responses to answer the questions: What worked well? What didn’t work well? What actions can we do for next time to improve? This may be especially useful for quick sessions to improve teams functionality, especially as many projects are evolving rapidly.

The RIC Network shared the following additional resources that they’ve found helpful during this time:


What works? What doesn’t? We want to hear from you!

Here’s what we’re learning from folks in our network from ~20 universities across Canada, ranging from people working in knowledge brokering, workshop facilitation, partnerships, grants, events, and many more. We’d also love to hear what your experience has been.

Protect your calendar

“I’ve started protecting time in my calendar to work on projects offline. This time to reflect and gather my thoughts helps energize me and bring me focus for the next few Zoom meetings.” – Knowledge Exchange Specialist at University of British Columbia

“To balance time with my kids, I’ve tried adding blocks in my calendar for personal time.” – Research & Knowledge Mobilization Coordinator at York University

Take breaks

“Take the time to go outside, maybe add a morning walk before work. Getting up and going straight to the computer and staying seated for the full workday can be tough.” – Technology and Social Innovation Advisor at University of Montreal

“Try taking some dance breaks! Even a couple minutes doing some chair dancing has brightened my mood.” – Research Planning and Facilitation Officer at University of Saskatchewan

“Depending on the call, perhaps you don’t have to sit in the same room and same chair all the time. For select calls, I’ve turned off video and gone on walks and moved around.” – Assistant Vice-President at York University