I'm exploring other tools and media to mobilize my knowledge!
Check out Medium with me, where I share videos and thoughts about digital literacy. I'm hoping to use Medium more with my training and development work, especially its Publications tool. For me, Medium is a tool for sharing ideas.
To try out "open pedagogy" or border-less collaboration related to learning and instruction, I have also branched out to another passion project, my itchybrain.ca site! Not only am I finally trying out WordPress, but I'm also sharing teaching and learning resources there. I benefit from others' open education practices, so my hope is to add value and also to make connections - and learn out loud more and more. I don't have all the answers, but the more I stretch myself to connect and collaborate with others, the more I "walk the walk" as a hands-on, minds-on learner and teacher.
Knowledge without mobilization is like invention without execution: hallucination.
People are mobilizing their knowledge. You heard right - knowledge mobilization – including its short-form KMb - is a thing. I try to stay on top of new terms related to education, so after a brief eye roll, I soon learned that I (and you) should be excited. You see, I’m all about information, or knowledge in this case. Getting it, sharing it, questioning it, fact-checking it, using it, exploiting it, creating it. We should all have access to knowledge that matters to us so we can do whatever we want with it. That’s one reason I get frustrated by research that is not available to most of us, has no application to real life, or is not clearly communicated and therefore tough to understand. (Abigal Baird’s point about this from neuroscience is worth the 59 seconds.)
That’s why I am so excited about knowledge mobilization.
The Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) defines knowledge mobilization as “the reciprocal and complementary flow and uptake of research knowledge between researchers, knowledge brokers, and knowledge users – both within and beyond academia”. I prefer the term knowledge mobilizer to knowledge broker as ‘broker’ is too closely aligned with the exchange of goods or assets on behalf of others. A mobilizer, on the other hand, spurs into action, often with a sense of agency and ownership. And has a hand in making a difference.
I’m a teacher by training and by vocation. Mostly, I mobilize knowledge and my students use it. However, when I get it right and in ways that are worth sharing, it’s like the proverbial tree falling in the forest: no one hears, not even the teacher in the next classroom. At the same time, when I read research about teaching, I often have the sense that the majority of what happens in my classroom and teaching context, the good, the bad, and the ugly, is alien to most researchers. This represents just one set of silos - the hallowed research world in one corner and the school or classroom in the other. Two silos working in isolation at a time in history when more than 75% of us are getting our knowledge from the Internet. I think it’s time for us to smash the silos and mobilize our knowledge.
Let’s start with Sherry Turkle’s 2012 TED talk when she pointed out that we are getting more and more accustomed to being ‘alone together’ through our devices, and putting pieces of ourselves ‘out there’ to form our public identities. My friend Tina has a special name for that (in)famous social media platform: ‘Fakebook’. I think she’d agree with Turkle’s statement, “I share, therefore I am”. But we can do so much more with our knowledge and with our media. We can connect in much more meaningful ways. The more I learn about KMb, the more my mantra becomes “I share, therefore I mobilize” or better still, “I mobilize, therefore I am.”
Knowledge is both personal and something that’s dynamic, not owned by anyone. Getting back to the silo metaphor, knowledge mobilization smashes the silos rather than reinforces them. And we can all be knowledge workers (sounds kind of sexy) – researchers, knowledge brokers, and knowledge users. Once free of the silos, knowledge grows organically and in ways that have much more impact.
To connect and take meaningful action with our knowledge, we just need to start with our KMb literacy. Knowledge mobilization literacy relies first and foremost on language skills for that initial spark or connection to happen. And there are some exciting ways this is already taking shape.
Take Michigan State University for example. MSU’s communications toolkit has resources, workshops, and other training programs that help professors to communicate and create a “more engaged, informed public”. Here’s their message to MSU profs:
"As a scientist, scholar, or researcher, you help solve the world's most pressing problems. Yours is the trusted voice of reason. But to truly impact others, your voice needs to be more broadly heard beyond your peers and journals."
In a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, MSU experimental nuclear physicist Artemis Spyrou said, “It’s important for scientists to talk about their research and their discoveries because if they don’t someone else will”. Check out the ‘research blog’ at her website – a great example of KMb. Dr. Spyrou walks the walk, and Henry Jenkins would likely call her a public intellectual or digital humanist who is using ‘citizenly discourse’ to demystify and distill her work.
This and more interactive knowledge mobilization has begun in various environments. If you want a research grant from the SSHRC, Canada, they require a KMb plan – because if you recall their definition of knowledge mobilization, knowledge flows back and forth. It goes both ways.
Another aspect of KMb literacy beyond ‘citizenly language’ then, has to include multi-media and other ways to make this back and forth flow happen. This is the more dynamic, interactive side of knowledge mobilization, and if you’re still reading, you are likely looking for more concrete examples.
There may be other, better known KMb mobilizers out there but I wanted to trumpet some that may not be so well known… so far. I’d also love to learn about KMb in your world. It’s never been as important to mobilize quality knowledge as it is today, and our freely available 21st century tools make it easy for us to do so in more than one direction.
Thomas Edison is reported to have said that invention without execution is simply hallucination. I say knowledge without mobilization suffers the same fate. Is your knowledge dynamic? Are you part of KMb networks? Mobilize here and share what you’re doing. Mobilization starts with us.
Amy Cuddy's 2012 TED Talk keeps coming back to me.
Watch it, and if you don't quite understand the fuss, you may not have paid close enough attention to what she says around the mid-way point (around 9 minutes in).
We all know that our body language communicates a great deal to others, but Cuddy's research suggests that, maybe more importantly, it also affects us. That's right, our body language can change our selves - psychologically and believe it or not, physically - in this case in the production of two key hormones, testosterone and cortisol. Testosterone communicates dominance, while cortisol sends stress messages. To ourselves.
And now, the age old question I encourage my students to ask, So what?
This kind of science - integrating psychology with biology - can tell us so much more about what we instinctively felt, but had no 'hard science' to back it up. The answers to So what? are endless, and only beginning to emerge.
Here are some thoughts:
Oh, and welcome to my first blog post! Let me know what you think.