The UK Knowledge Mobilization Forum in Second Life / Le forum britannique sur la mobilisation des connaissances dans Second Life?

David Phipps, RIR-York

David had the privilege of attending the UK Knowledge Mobilization Forum 2014 in person. George Julian (@GeorgeJulian) attended in Second Life. Did it work for George the same way it did for David?

David a eu la chance d’assister en personne au
Forum britannique sur la MdC 2014. George Julian (@GeorgeJulian), lui, y a assisté dans Second Life. Les choses se sont-elles passées pour George de la même façon que pour David?

The short answer is no, but that doesn’t mean it was a failure. I think it was a successful first experience. Second Life doesn’t mimic real life… because in real life you can’t attend as a cat (as George did) nor can you transport to different environments that offer different perspectives on knowledge mobilization.

Second Life is an online virtual environment platform. Users create avatars and join other online users in a variety of online “lands”. Health Land was created by Dave Taylor of Imperial College as a space for holding a conference in Second Life. The online space mirrors the real life space in that there is a gathering hall where participants in Second Life can view the posters that are posted in real life.

Photo of second life #1

Health Island also has a conference room with a projection screen and a tweet wall. In this picture you can see Peter Levesque (@peterlevesque) making opening remarks at the Forum. All the presentations in real life were projected into Second Life.

Second Life photo #2

In Second Life you can view posters, listen to the talks and ask questions to the Second Life moderator who is attending in real life. You can also have one on one or small group conversations with other participants in Second Life if you have a head set and microphone. But you miss the networking and off program serendipitous conversations.

But did it work?

George tweeted :

#UKKMbF14 Being in SL was educational, visceral reminder of what it feels like to not be in the room where the convo happens!!

One of the poster winners was a poster presented in Second Life by a participant in Second Life. That is a huge testament to the potential of conference participation in Second Life.

But George was also kind enough to let me know the following.

The massive plus is that I can attend at minimal cost given I’m 4hrs away from London. The experience is an interesting one, really don’t know how to sum it up in a couple of sentences, definitely need to blog about it. I’d say it’s a good reminder of what it’s like to feel completely new to something (I only joined SL for this conference), but also to try and be part of a conversation when you’re outside of the room. We’ve had teething troubles with audio and video, so technically it’s not been the easiest to follow, that said it’s been good to see people, and combined with twitter has made me feel like I can follow some of it.

I’d say it’s been educational, certainly so far, in many ways. It’s been good to meet a couple of people, but we’re a very small group in SL and it does feel like we’re missing out on a lot of the benefits of being in the room, especially networking obviously.

George also posted her own blog on her own experience.

My experience of Second Life mirrors George’s although she was in there for 2 days and I was popping in and out. Second Life offers great potential to engage a wide audience in the content of the conference. The conference organizers intend to use Second Life to carry on small group discussions and special interest groups arising from the Forum.

I need to become more proficient in my own use of Second Life. The audio issues were likely amplified due to the time delay between real life and Second Life. It might actually be easier when participants are all in Second Life. We know this is possible because of SLActions, “the original international conference held simultaneously in several countries on the topic of virtual worlds and metaverse platforms”. It is a conference that can be attended solely in Second Life.

The UK Knowledge Mobilization Forum isn’t there yet but huge shout out to the organizers for this experiment. The KMb Unit at York University tried out Second Life David Phipps' Second Life Elf Lord avatarwith very unsatisfying results about 5 years ago. Returning to Second Life now, with a coach like Dave Taylor, made for a much more successful experience.

By the way…. The elf lord you see in these pictures is me. As a newbie to Second Life I chose the only off the shelf avatar that had grey hair. With more time and more experience I can choose to lose the cloak and sword, add glasses and look more like my real life self.  Or just remain as an elf lord… I bet they can mobilize all sorts of things!

And don’t forget to check out the CDN KMb Forum in Saskatoon June 9-10.

The Virtual Knowledge Broker / Le courtier de connaissances virtuel

David Phipps, RIR-York

On Tuesday September 25 , I cleared my morning so that I could be the only Canadian participant in a workshop on Policy Influence and Monitoring. The workshop was in Cornwall in the UK. I was in Toronto in Canada. WebEx and Skype connected us.

Le mardi 25 septembre, j’ai libéré ma matinée afin de pouvoir être le seul participant canadien à un atelier sur l’influence des politiques et le suivi. L’atelier avait lieu à Cornwall au Royaume-Uni. J’étais à Toronto, au Canada. WebEx et Skype nous ont mis en contact.

Knowledge intermediary work is a global phenomenon. Look at the K* conference in April 2012 that was attended by participants from 5 continents. There are well established practices to enhance the impact of research on policy and practice in developing countries seeded by international organizations like the International Development Research Centre (Canada) and the RAPID program of the Oversees Development Initiative in the UK plus many more. These organizations work with local Southern partners to enhance the impact of research on the lives of citizens in the Global South.

Figure 1

I was invited by the Global Development Network (GD Net) to take part in a workshop on Policy Influence and Monitoring sponsored by the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) who were working with a consortium lead by ODI and involving CommsConsult in UK and Zimbabwe, the Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA) in Sri Lanka and the Centro de Implementación de Políticas Públicas para la Equidad y el Crecimiento (CIPPEC) in Argentina. They came together to explore two questions:

  1. What is policy influence?
  2. How do we measure it?

There were about 20 participants in Cornwall plus Vanesa Weyrauch joining from Argentina, Peter da Costa joining from Kenya, Simon Batchelor based in the UK, also joining remotely and me… from Canada.

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Canada and the United Kingdom commit to social innovation / Le Canada et le Royaume-Uni s’engagent dans l’innovation sociale

Canada and UK have made a commitment to social innovation for the first time. David Phipps (RIR-York) had a small part to play.

Le Canada et le Royaume-Uni ont pris un engagement pour l’innovation sociale pour la première fois. David Phipps (RIR-York) avait un petit rôle à jouer.

In September 2011 David Cameron , Prime Minister of Great Britain met with Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada. They discussed many matters including international diplomacy, national security, the economy and innovation. Speaking to the House of Commons on September 22, 2012 David Cameron said of Canada, “yours is a home of innovation and technology”. During their meeting they decided to build on these mutual interests of science and innovation by committing to the drafting a Joint Innovation Statement.

David Phipps (RIR-York) was in the UK for 2 weeks of meetings on knowledge mobilization and social innovation starting November 26, 2011. At that time I wrote in Mobilize This! about my meetings with Centre for Research in Families & Relationships (University of Edinburgh) and with Community University Partnership Program (University of Brighton). What I didn’t write about at the time was about my meetings with agencies interested in social innovation. I met with the Young Foundation, a global leader in social innovation, and with NESTA, “the UK’s innovation foundation”. Caroline Martin, Trade Commissioner for science & technology of the Canadian High Commission in London, was immensely helpful in setting up and accompanying me to those meetings. We discussed the importance of social innovation to Canada and the UK, a conversation we have since continued with Nicole Arbour, Team Lead for the Science & Innovation Network of the British High Commission in Ottawa. Together we explored opportunities for collaboration on social innovation with Canadian organizations such as Social Innovation Generation and the McConnell Family Foundation whose leadership of social innovation in Canada parallels that of NESTA and the Young Foundation in the UK.

At the same time Caroline and Nicole were helping their colleagues draft the Joint Innovation Statement called for by Prime Ministers Harper and Cameron. Recognizing the mutual interests of Canada and the UK in social innovation, our conversations helped inform the decision to include social innovation in the text of the Joint Innovation Statement.

As reported by the British High Commission on May 9, 2012 the Joint Innovation statement was signed by the Honourable Ed Fast, Canada’s Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, and Lord Green, the United Kingdom’s Minister of State for Trade and Investment. The text of the Joint Innovation Statement includes a commitment to support social innovation:

The Participants will consider to take joint initiatives in the following priority areas (including) Social innovation: Working with academic, government, and civil society partners to leverage research and innovation activities for greater societal benefits.”

“Social Innovation is one outcome of knowledge mobilization for which York has developed an international reputation,” said Robert Haché, York’s vice-president research & innovation. “New discoveries are being made to address persistent social challenges through social innovation. Our conversations with the British and Canadian High Commissions helped inform the decision to include social innovation in the text of the Joint Innovation statement. The outcome reflects the growing international appreciation of the work of York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit and its leadership role in ResearchImpact, Canada’s knowledge mobilization network, in working to turn research into action.”

This joint, diplomatic commitment to social innovation between Canada and the UK finds another home in David Johnston, Governor General of Canada. On February 17, 2012 he wrote of knowledge diplomacy in the Globe & Mail asking, “So how do we bring about a smart and caring world that is at once prosperous, sustainable and resilient? Our ability to work together – to practise the diplomacy of knowledge – will be the key to our success.” As announced on May 3, 2012 by the Canadian Federation of Humanities and Social Sciences (CFHSS, organizers of Congress 2012), His Excellency will lead a “discussion of cross-sector collaboration and social innovation at Congress 2012 (that) will encourage students, researchers, employees and citizens alike, as we strive for greater prosperity and quality of life for all.” In their May 3 announcement CFHSS also recognized the work of York University, on behalf of RIR in the Community-Campus Collaboration Initiative.

Collaborating for social innovation is now recognized as a priority for Canada and for the UK. RIR-York was there and will be there working with colleagues from Canada and the UK to support knowledge mobilization as a process that enables enhanced social innovation.

David Phipps’ Opening Address to the Community Sector in the United Kingdom / Mot d’ouverture de David Phipps à l’attention du milieu communautaire du Royaume-Uni

David Phipps, RIR- York

David Phipps (RIR-York) was in the UK recently and included an address to open the annual general meeting of 3VA. 3VA is a Council for Voluntary Service, providing support for voluntary and community organizations across Eastboume, Lewes District and Wealden.  David was introduced as “the most influential knowledge broker in Canada and a recognized world leader in the field of universities empowering local communities and the voluntary sector”.

David Phipps (RIR-York) était récemment au Royaume-Uni et prononçait le mot d’ouverture de la rencontre annuelle de 3VA. 3VA est un conseil pour le bénévolat qui fournit un appui aux organisations communautaires et bénévoles à travers Eastoubme, Lewes District et Wealden. David a été présenté comme “le courtier de connaissances le plus influent du Canada ainsi qu’un leader mondialement reconnu dans la mouvance des universités qui favorise l’habilitation des communautés locales et le secteur bénévole”.

The address started with the video of the Green Economy Centre of Nottawasaga Futures as an example of knowledge mobilization enabling a social innovation. York’s partnership with the United Way of York Region was used as another example of a community agency leading in community development. Both are important partners for York University.

“On behalf of my community partners in Canada, it is a pleasure to welcome you to your AGM.

I believe the community sector is rich in talent and expertise. Community expertise and local knowledge is critically important to effective implementation of any new policy, program or service.  Similarly tacit knowledge, traditional knowledge and other forms of knowing are found in the community.  All knowledge is important and different knowledges must collaborate to enable social innovation.

I have read that the community sector is not an innovative sector.  This is rubbish as the community sector has always made a practice of doing more with less which forces innovative and creative solutions to challenges. The limitation we all face is the issue of scale. How can a local innovation be shared with other communities and scaled for broader impact? These limited resources means we have to collaborate to do more with less and that is what I wish to talk about today. Collaboration between the community and academic sectors.

As you open your AGM – it is my pleasure to talk to you about our university and community efforts in Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) to support social innovation.  KMb is an institutional infrastructure. KMb at York, like the Community University Partnership Program at the University of Brighton is unique. Both provide services that connect community talent to university talent including researchers and students. Although we implement differently the goals are similar.

Over the last 5.5 years York’s KMb Unit has helped to forge over 225 relationships. We have helped community agencies raise over $1M for programs and services and have attracted over $1M to the university in sponsored research opportunities. Supported by York’s KMb Unit, university researchers and their community partners have received over $17M in engaged scholarship grant funding. We have placed 35 KMb graduate student interns with community and public sector partners and eight of them have been hired by their placement partners.  We also have an active social media strategy.

University researchers have always partnered with a variety of organizations, that isn’t new.  What is new is that some institutions like York and Brighton have developed an institutional capacity to support this activity for the mutual benefit of the university and the community.  It is my belief that the community sector is the heart of our communities. Community agencies are committed and innovative and agile. You have ability to respond to opportunities and collaborate with universities without a bureaucratic web of red tape or a maze of intellectual property agreements.

I am traveling in UK to speak about social innovation and knowledge mobilization visiting Edinburgh, Eastbourne, Brighton and London.

I would also like to recognize that today (December 1) is World AIDS Day, a day to remember those we have lost, their friends, families and allies and the community agencies who provide a wide range of services to people affected by HIV/AIDS. Today is also a day to renew our commitments to research and service for HIV/AIDS. Some of our work has been with HIV/AIDS community service organizations. We have placed a graduate student intern at an AIDS service organization in York Region and we have written and posted clear language summaries that summarize published HIV/AIDS research.

I invite you now to pause, just for a moment and remember those who have lived and continue to live with HIV/AIDS.

Let us reflect on the value that we might be able to generate for HIV/AIDS when we work together.  When academic research and community expertise collaborate to bring new ideas to fruition.

In closing, I invite you watch a video in which Daniele Zanotti, CEO of the United Way of York Region speaks about the value of knowledge mobilization to the university and the community.”