KMbeing

Please Link to New Website kmbeing.com

Tag Archives: university

Knowledge Mobilization, Universities and The Knowledge Revolution

Walter Stewart, who considers himself a “client-centered” consultant “for a knowlede-based economy” was a keynote speaker at the annual Canadian Higher Education Information Technology Conference (CANHEIT) held this past summer at Memorial University in Newfoundland, Canada.  Several months have past since his presentation, but his challenge to universities – to IT administrators, staff and academic institutions as a whole (as well as the broader challenge to society) – still remains an extremely relevant call. I only recently received a forwarded copy of his presentation, but feel his views continue to be worth hearing.

Stewart talked about the current knowledge paradigm shift that I referred to in my last blog.  He pointed out that universities (and society in general) are experiencing a knowledge revolution – a revolution in ways of knowing – unprecendented in the past thousand years. According to Stewart it is part of a “process that is changing the very ways human beings know.” He suggests that those working in universities need to examine their information infrastructures and require “a well-developed sense of context” to keep up to the emergence of our new digital world, the “primacy of data” and the evolving knowledge economy (especially in emerging markets like China and India).

Stewart suggests the current role of the university is changing with the knowledge-based economy as they move from serving a niche elite market of scholars and researchers to serving a broader number of learners and knowledge mobilizers. I was very interested in Stewart’s approach in admonishing universities to evolve, and the implications of his message for all of society.

In previous posts of my blog, I have pointed out how researchers (academic/institutional) and research-users are working more collaboratively through knowledge mobilization as part of a greater free flow of data that is contributing to the greater benefit of society. As a community-based digital researcher working within (but not officially affiliated with) a university, it’s my intention to show the greater context that Stewart is talking about that is the reason for knowledge mobilization.

 

 

 

 

 

I am what Angie Hart (no, not the Australian pop singer Angie Hart!) would call “a boundary spanner” helping to bring university and community together.  I am attempting to bring greater awareness of how knowledge mobilization at the community level can inform researchers at the university level and vice versa. It’s good to see someone like Walter Stewart making that message known to university administrators directly. Stewart’s message is a knowledge mobilization message relevant to all of us – now living in a knowledge-driven digital age.

For the video of Walter Stewart’s keynote address link here AND SCROLL DOWN TO… Keynote 6: The Role of Higher Educational Institutions in Infrastructure
Walter Stewart
Wednesday, June 16, 2010, 8:45 – 9:45

Advertisements

The Knowledge Mobilization Paradigm Shift

Using social media for knowledge mobilization is the most important thing we can do as part of the newly-evolving paradigm shift from an information society to a knowledge society. We are seeing a transition from an economy based on material goods and information to one based on knowledge goods and mobilization using social media as an essential tool.

In order to understand this current paradigm shift, we must first recall previous societal revolutions from Agricultural to Industrial to Scientific – with the later leading to our more recent Information society and the subsequent greater manufacturing of material goods.

We must then understand the distinction of data, information, knowledge and knowledge mobilization. Of primary importance in the scientific revolution (and of course still today), data comes through research and collection. Information is how the data is organized. Knowledge is then built upon information, and Knowledge Mobilization is knowing what to do with that knowledge – how to synthesize the knowledge of both researchers and communities (academics and non-academics) in order to make it useful to society. Knowledge mobilization is the creation of multi-dimensional knowledge links or activities for the benefit of society.

At a recent business dinner I was asked by an executive member of an Ottawa based research organization how to best begin incorporating a knowledge mobilization strategy for what appears to be a research organization of  “old, white-collar dinosaurs” heading into irrelevance.

I suggested three key integrated steps to help them breath new life into their agency:

1) Face-To-Face Interaction: Getting their executive group to meet with other advisors from a variety of research, community and social media sectors – either in workshops, presentations or casual cocktail sessions – to generate conversation and ideas for funding and future projects.

2) Social Media Strategy: Developing a social media strategy that includes at least one designated social media staff member to help further promote the agencies work and firmly link and entrench the agency in the new paradigm shift by a successful use of social media tools like Twitter or Blogs.

3) Knowledge Mobilization (KMb): Constantly promoting and presenting the agency’s own knowledge while being informed by Face-To-Face Interaction and a Social Media Strategy about how to synthesize external knowledge with their own – through Knowledge Mobilization – for better use to society, and not just within their own specialization.

Researchers, government and community agencies are developing deeper relationships than ever before through knowledge mobilization.  Social media tools for knowledge mobilization are helping these agencies achieve meaningful results beyond just good information sharing.

The knowledge society is a new phase of society using social media sites like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook that make knowledge mobilization faster, efficient and more practical. But some researchers, scholarly associations, federations and government agencies are still not aware of the major importance and role that social media is playing in this emerging society today.

Those recognizing the major significance of using social media beyond casual conversations and family/friends contact (see previous blog) will help keep the older forms and structures of academic, government and community agencies from becoming irrelevant and dying out. Those who don’t…well?

Portable GRUs (Global Research Universities) in Africa

KMb (Knowledge Mobilization)


Professor Simon Marginson, who teaches higher education at the University of Melbourne, recently presented the concept of the global research university (GRU) in a keynote address at the British Council’s Going Global international education conference in London. As quoted from the Times Higher Education blog, Marginson defined a GRU as a “multiversity”, active in all disciplines and fields “plus global systems and ranking … located in national systems of higher education, but also part of a global system at the same time”. Marginson also said: “In many nations, especially in Africa, there are no GRUs. None is in sight.” Although the blog did not address further why this might be so, it begs the question why are there no African GRUs in sight?

Perhaps a solution. According to textually.org, Africa’s digital technology is exploding across the continent as smart phone technology is increasing as much as 500 percent. Given remote access to web-based educational systems – like WebCT, and the unnecessary local physical infrastructure required, isn’t the concept of a portable GRU in the palm of your hand a no-brainer? Doesn’t it make sense as a goal of higher education to truly connect globally within and from impoverished countries already dealing with inequalities to promote greater global education?

Although the use of digital technology is growing in developing countries, Reuters reported that only 28% of all Africans had a cellular subscription at this time last year. Nonetheless, Africa continues to have one of the largest growth rates in voice, mobile Web and mobile commerce channels. One of the problems has been the cost of technology in such impoverished countries. The solution is providing handsets for less than $40 each, already being done for up to 6 million in Africa. African mobile usage has now surpassed fixed usage.

No doubt, Africa and other developing countries will continue to see a rise in the use of digital technology. As more individuals around the world have this type of global access and affordable cellular devices, the greater the possibility of seeing the further expansion of GRUs with portable GRUs – and a more educated global population. A more educated global population makes for greater economic development worldwide, and contributes to greater well-being of all citizens – local and global.

But we must remember to ask – by whose educational standards, whose educational values, whose educational beliefs? Western standards? Eastern standards? Northern standards? Southern standards? Or cooperative Global standards? GRUs, as part of a global system, need to accommodate open debate and higher thinking just as much as any on-campus classes in a physical university need to. Just as Web 2.0 technology has advanced the ability to socially interact and mobilize knowledge as never before, the greater this new web is cast across the globe to include rich and poor nations alike the greater the possibilities for global understanding and cooperation.

Professor Marginson calls for GRUs to be part of a “global system” but says “none is in sight”. Using digital technology to create portable GRUs around the world is the way to do it to put higher education – literally – in the hands of everyone. With the burgeoning of digital technology in Africa and other developing countries, perhaps portable GRUs there and around the world are closer than we think.