CanAssist Boosts Independence for Seniors, People with Disabilities / CanAssist accroit l’autonomie des personnes âgées et de celles ayant un handicap

By Dale Anderson (ResearchImpact, University of Victoria)

CanAssist, a university-based organization dedicated to developing and delivering technologies, programs and services that improve the quality of life of those with special needs, and just received $3.5 million to continue its work—a shining example of knowledge mobilization in action at UVic.

CanAssist est une organisation liée à UVic dont le mandat est de développer et de fournir des technologies, des programmes et des services améliorant la qualité de vie de ceux qui ont des besoins spéciaux. Elle vient tout juste de recevoir 3,5 millions de dollars afin de poursuivre ses activités – un exemple éclatant de mobilisation des connaissances à UVic.

CanAssist is a university-based organization dedicated to developing and delivering technologies, programs and services that improve the quality of life of those with special needs. It is a shining example of knowledge mobilization in action, and has just received funding to continue its innovative KMb work.

Recently, BC Premier Christy Clark announced $3.5 million for the University of Victoria to support an innovative project by CanAssist that will help seniors and people with disabilities remain as independent as possible while still living at home. Premier Clark had the opportunity to test CanConnect, an online tool that is helping seniors connect with care providers and children with special needs in remote communities connect with family and friends. CanConnect is a simple and user-friendly enhancement of Skype that allows people who are normally unable to use computers to make free telephone calls and have face-to-face chats in real time over the Internet.

By 2031, almost a quarter of B.C.’s population will be over 65 and the number of individuals with disabilities or who face serious barriers to employment and inclusion is expected to increase in the next 20 years. It is estimated that thousands more families in B.C. will benefit from today’s announcement.

Most of the $3.5 million will support an innovative partnership between CanAssist at the University of Victoria, Tyze Personal Networks and the PLAN Institute for Caring Citizenship. These partners will combine their expertise to create Connect for Care, new online tools that will help connect clients with their families, caregivers and health care providers. The remaining $500,000 will support CanFITT, a partnership between CanAssist and the Vancouver Island Health Authority to prototype the use of customized technologies to improve the quality of life for clients receiving services through the Choice in Supports for Independent Living program.

CanAssist has helped hundreds of families in B.C. since it was established in 1999. Over 4,500 students, 200 university faculty and more than 400 volunteers have participated in CanAssist, including retired physicians, machinists, seamstresses and engineers.

“CanAssist is a great example of a faculty member’s initiative that has grown to make UVic a national leader in the development of innovative technologies for people with disabilities,” said University of Victoria President David Turpin. “With this generous support from the B.C. government, CanAssist and its community partners will continue to create practical and empowering tools to help special needs individuals and their families overcome the challenges they face.”

Visit the CanAssist website for more information.


RIR Connects You – Online and In Real Life / RIR vous met en connexion – en ligne et en personne

By David Phipps (ResearchImpact, York)

A recent blog about community engagement for social innovation allows RIR-York to engage in some self reflection.  We’re doing okay but we have room to grow by better using our online spaces for KMb while reinforcing our commitment to collaboration in real life.

Un récent billet portant sur l’engagement pour l’innovation sociale offre au RIR-York une occasion de se questionner sur ses pratiques. Les choses vont bien pour nous, mais il y a place à l’amélioration en faisant un meilleur usage des espaces en ligne, tout en renforçant notre engagement à collaborer en personne.

“Community engagement and civic participation are key elements of effective social innovation.” That’s how this blog by Tim Glynn Burke starts out.  The blog was written for the Project on Social Innovation at the Ash Centre for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Kennedy School, Harvard (thanks @powerofsocinnov).  The blogreviews a report by Diana Scearce (who previously wrote a wonderful article about social media and social innovation in the Stanford Social Innovation Review – very highly recommend it) so you are reading a blog about a blog about a report… but that’s how good news spreads.

The authors point out five common behaviours of social innovators.  They are reproduced along with a score card measuring the KMb Unit at York University.

Actively listening to online conversations and openly asking for advice York listens actively online mostly via twitter but also in comments on Mobilize This!. We routinely approach our community and other partners to listen for advice on needs and services. We could do better by listening to our communities online, but few are there. A-
Creating environments, in person and online, where helpful connections can from The raison d’être of York’s KMb Unit is to create connections. We do this very well in person.  We are exploring this online but few of our community partners are there. In person: A+
Online: C-
Deliberately connecting people with different perspectives The best solutions come from diverse perspectives but solutions derived from diverse perspectives take longer. KM in the AM usually has 10-15 community, municipal and academic voices around the table. A
Helping people directly help each other The raison d’être of connections made by York’s KMb Unit is to support the co-creation of solutions. An example of this is the collaboration between the binning community and UVic. Not all of our efforts result in collaborations but all of them result in connections. B+
Giving enough direction for individuals to take effective and coordinated action York’s KMb Unit is a resource to collaborations formed with our faculty and students.  We make the connections.  We foster the collaborations. We do not usually get involved in the projects themselves.  We are available for advice and input from our KMb collaborations upon request but don’t presume to give direction unless asked. Should we be more prescriptive in our direction? You let us know. B+

This is self scored. It is not peer reviewed, so take the scoring with a grain (okay, a pillar) of salt.

It appears that we are on track to deliver services that support the co-production of social innovations but we have space to improve in transacting these services online.  York’s KMb Unit is online and we are exploring these tools. When our community and municipal/Regional partners get online, we will be there to meet them.

Imagining the future, Scearce sees more interconnectedness, more decentralization and more transparency – all of which are enabled by social media. She also warns about making the community too tight knit and resistant to outside perspectives. Especially as we experiment with social media mediated KMb we need to re-commit our efforts to KMb in person, on the ground and in the community. We cannot let the privilege of social media marginalize those living a real life. Indeed, those engaging via social media are skilled at connecting.  Those who aren’t have an even more urgent need for KMb.

The report ends with some advice for those who are supporting community engagement for social innovation:

–  Let go of your expert mindset and embrace the openness of network

  • Translated for RIR: faculty aren’t the only experts

–  Expand your existing networks beyond the usual suspects and attract fresh perspectives

  • Translated for RIR: new perspectives = new solutions = new scholarship

–  Create spaces where others can connect and collaborate

  • Translated for RIR: it’s what we do.  We eat, sleep and breathe collaboration.

–  Measure your work based both on progress on a particular issue area as well as the health of the network itself, which “can be an end in itself.”

  • Translated for RIR: measure more than your scholarly outputs. What changed for your partner (new policy, program, service, market) because of your collaboration?

RIR-York and the broader RIR network create places for community (and municipal/Regional/provincial government, labour and private sector) engagement.  We do this online and in real life. See you there.

KMb Advice for Americans / Conseil sur la MdC pour les américains

By David Phipps (ResearchImpact, York)

Thanks to @KTExchange for giving David Phipps (RIR-York) the chance to speak to Americans about the Canadian KT (=KMb) secret. American citizens, community agencies and lawmakers can learn from their Canadian counterparts.

Merci à @KTExchange d’avoir donné la chance à David Phipps (RIR-York) de parler aux Américains à propos du secret canadien en matière de TC (=MdC). Les citoyens américains, les agences communautaires ainsi que les législateurs peuvent en apprendre de leurs vis-à-vis canadiens.

“Develop an engaged community sector and elect a government that will listen.”

Those were my parting words to the audience at the National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing and Media in Atlanta as we gathered to debate if the (hypothetical) Canadian KT secret is exportable to the US. I developed some preliminary thinking about this in a recent blog where I proposed the US needs a social Bayh Dole Act to mandate KT on American campuses.

A social Bayh Dole Act would focus on public good as an outcome. It would not encourage the false promise of private gain from the commercialization of university research inherent in Bayh Dole mediated technology transfer. A social Bayh Dole Act will require a paradigm shift of engagement in civic and academic America. We heard from the audience that US Foundations and charities are fragmented, do not speak with a unified voice and do not collaborate on funding research projects. We also heard that in a commercialized and competitive health care system there is not a culture of sharing and collaboration, both necessary antecedents of successful KT.

The health charities in Canada were critical in the transition from the Medical Research Council (MRC) to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). It is because of Canadian health charities that CIHR has the 13 Institutes it has.  It is because of the health charities that CIHR has a legislated KT mandate. Because of the health charities, run by citizens engaged in their health causes, the Canadian government (via CIHR) now invests over $800M per year creating new knowledge and translating that knowledge new health services, policies and products.

The US can benefit from a social Bayh Dole Act. To get there it will need the advocacy of an engaged and coordinated community sector that demands a public return on public investments in research.  It will also need a government that listens to Americans and acts as the Canadian government did in 2000 when it passed the CIHR Act.

All the US needs to do is develop an engaged community sector and elect a government that will listen.

Stephen Linder (The University of Texas School of Public Health) and David Phipps (RIR-York) giving KMb Advice to Americans

Clear Language Research Summaries Go National! / Les résumés de recherches en langage clair à l’échelle nationale!

By Shawna Reibling (ResearchImpact, University of Guelph)

Clear Language Research Summaries are designed to remove jargon and create a description of a peer-reviewed  discovery that’s easy to understand.  Students and personnel from across the University of Guelph will be trained by York University in clear language writing techniques, beginning to write in September 2011.

Les résumés de recherche en langage clair ont pour objectif d’éviter le jargon scientifique et de fournir un résumé d’une recherche validée par les pairs qui sera facilement compris. Des étudiants ainsi que des membres du personnel de l’Université de Guelph recevront une formation offerte par l’Université de York sur les technique d’écriture en langage clair. L’écriture débutera en septembre 2011.

Two ResearchImpact member universities: University of Guelph and York University, are working together to create 144 clear language research summaries of peer-reviewed journal articles about research happening at the University of Guelph.

Working with the University of Guelph Atrium digital repository, and ResearchImpact local knowledge brokers, research summaries will then be made available throughout the ResearchImpact network (see figure below), for practitioners and members of the public to read. Farmers in British Columbia might be interested in research about the work of tree fruit expert Jayasankar Subramanian. Or the project “Nutraceutical Research on Local Berries in Central Labrador for the Development of New Activities in the Region”, based out of Memorial University,  might be looking for a partner at the University of Guelph Vineland Research Station. Profiling published research from across the university and making it accessible throughout a wide dissemination network, will allow ResearchImpact and the Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship to engage further, with more clarity, into what Canadian communities are curious to learn more about.  Visit the website, Clear Language Research Summaries: Moving From Peer-Review to Public-View for more information.

The project was supported by the Agri-Food and Rural Link, a program of Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Foods and Rural Affairs.

A program of the OMAFRA-U of G Partnership.

Please contact Shawna Reibling, Knowledge Mobilization Coordinator at the Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship for more information.

Via ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche, clear language research summaries will be more widely accessible

Telling our KMb Stories / Raconter nos histories de mdc

The following is a KMb story that illustrates how a story is a method of knowledge dissemination. As Marshall McLuhen said, “the medium is the message”.

Ce qui suit est une histoire de mobilisation des connaissances qui illustre de quelle façon une histoire peut servir de méthode pour disséminer la connaissance. Comme l’a dit Marshall McLuhen, « le médium est le message ».

David sat on the dock.  It was a sunny day on Beaver Lake in Ontario’s Kawartha Lakes region. White wine in hand and friends all around, he watched Gary (@KMbeing) play with their 8 year old niece, Maddie (ok, she’s not a niece by blood but a niece by love, nonetheless).  Maddie wanted to build a sandcastle, which for her meant that she would tell Gary where to put the walls and turrets and keep engaged just long enough to get it half completed. Gary was playing. And David thought, “When was the last time I just played”?

David played with Maddie’s brother Alex a few months ago when they built Leggo things but he felt regret that he couldn’t remember the last time he played.  Just played.  Without kids. He thought of asking friends:

  • When was the last time you went to a play ground, or a water park or just played?
  • When was the last time you played in anything other than grown up organized sports or fitness classes?
  • When was the last time you just explored your own imagination and just played?

But he suspected that his friends would all be as constrained as he felt about playing.  He wanted to play and act like a kid but he always found excuses about being too busy. The real excuse is he doesn’t’ want other adults (or kids for that matter) to wonder why is this grown up is playing and not acting like he should.

David is also a knowledge broker who works at York University’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit.  He needed to make a decision about playing so he explored the evidence on play and other child like freedoms. He asked the 21st Century oracle, Google, and found lots of references to play and research but mostly from a child’s developmental perspective.  Google returned less about research on adult play but one studyby Samuel West explained that “Adult play is a facilitator of creativity in an organizational context”. David thought about this and realized that if adult play is important to success in work (and likely in life as well) why didn’t grownups play more often?

David asked Gary, “You remember when you were playing with Maddie?”

“Yeah”, he answered, without looking up from his TweetDeck. Continue reading

Public Benefits from Public Research

David Phipps (RIR – York) wrote this guest post for  It was originally published on August 3, 2011 and is cross posted here with permission.

I have been invited by the University of Texas School of Public Health, Research Into Action project, to the Centers for Disease Control National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media to debate the position that Canada has a knowledge translation secret. I look forward to this discussion with Stephen Linder (The University of Texas School of Public Health), Pimjai Sudsawad (Knowledge Translation Program Coordinator, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research), and Rick Austin (Research Into Action project), because I get to brag about Canada and our KT successes.

We’ll start from the (debatable) position that Canada has a KT secret. There is an evidence gap here. There are also excellent examples of KT from around the world. Nonetheless, there is a widely held perception that our KT secret has resulted from (or resulted in) public investments in national KT institutions like the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canadian Health Services Research Foundation, Canadian Partnerships Against Cancer, Mental Health Commission of Canada, and Canadian Council on Learning, all with a KT mandate. Canada also has ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche (RIR), the only national network of university knowledge mobilization units in the world (to our knowledge).

For argument’s sake, let’s accept that Canada has a KT secret – the question becomes why? Canada has a strong history of public institutions. Compared to the US, Canada has less private health care and fewer private options for education from K-12 to higher education. Using General Expenditures in R&D (GERD) as a metric, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has shown that Canada’s public sector invests relatively more in R&D than does Canada’s private sector. On June 28, 2011 Canada’s Science, Technology and Innovation Council released its report on Canada’s innovation performance in 2010.  The report recognizes that “Canada’s overall business expenditures on R&D lag behind international innovation leaders. These numbers are trending down when they should be trending up.”

Since Canadians invest proportionally more public funding in R&D and likewise have fewer private options in health care and education, I propose that Canadians expect a return on their investments in public research so that research benefits policy and practice in health and education as well as in other sectors. That’s the Canadian socially democratic model.

If this is true, so what? How can we translate this to other jurisdictions? How can other countries create an expectation of public return for public investments in research? Continue reading

OLC Partners with KMb / Le réseau OLC et l’unité de MdC de York joignent leurs forces

This was first posted by Ontario Literacy Coalition on July 6. It features two of York’s KMb Interns undertaking research with the Ontario Literacy Coalition. Student interns are a great way to connect academic research talent to community knowledge needs.

Ce billet a été publié le 6 juillet par le Réseau Ontario Literacy Coalition (OLC). Il présente deux stagiaires de l’unité de mobilisation des connaissances de York qui travailleront avec le Réseau OLC. Les stagiaires sont d’excellents moyens de relier la recherche académique et les besoins de connaissances exprimés par les milieux.

Nausheen Quayyum and Shireen Rangwala

The OLC, in partnership with the Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) Unit through York University, has recruited two graduate student interns, Shireen Rangwala and Nausheen Quayyum, to work on research initiatives for best practices and new models of service delivery within the OLC and the literacy community. Knowledge Mobilization refers to the active, two-way exchange of information and expertise between knowledge creators and knowledge users, and continues to generate interest with researchers and organizations alike. While Shireen focuses on digital literacy, Nausheen is working on sponsorship and alternative forms of funding. Both Shireen and Nausheen, as well as a number of other graduate students at York are working with community agencies across the GTA thanks to grants made possible by the KMb Unit.

The KMb Unit at York, receiving grants from CIHR and SSHRC, has provided the mechanism for research from areas such as humanities and social services – an area primarily dominated by science and technology. York’s KMb Unit, along with the University of Victoria, has created ResearchImpact, Canada’s growing KMb network.

Michael Johnny, Manager of York’s KMb Unit, speaks enthusiastically about partnering with OLC. “There is incredible value in connecting the skills of graduate students in research with relevant issues in policy in organizations. I really hope it’s just the beginning to expand a greater pipeline with OLC.”

A research forum to be held in the fall will highlight the collaborative efforts of the KMb Unit, OLC, Shireen, and Nausheen as they present their research findings.