Technique of the Week #3: Virtual Meetings

What are virtual meetings?

I am sure that at some point in your professional or academic career a meeting was scheduled but one or more of those involved were unable to attend. Whereas in the past a person missing the meeting would have to follow up with meeting minutes or otherwise be informed of what was covered, now a variety of tools can be used to connect people in different parts across the world. One of these tools includes the use of virtual meetings. Virtual meetings are real-time conversations and interactions that use the internet to connect people in differing places. These meetings can be in the form of text-based instant messaging, they can be voice-based conference calls, or fully audio-visual in the form of video calls.

Along with the ability to interact face-to-face with people around the world, many virtual conference services allow one to share computer screens and/or allow for multiple people to work on a document while the meeting is taking place. Such a feature mimics how an in-person meeting would take place, with one person presenting material to those in the meeting, while allowing others to critique or make changes on that material.

Furthermore, many virtual meeting services allow for administrative control. For example, the individual running the virtual meeting would be able to control who speaks at a given time. Such a feature would cut back on the amount of cross-talk and/or off topic conversations that often creep into an in-person meeting.

Resources, time, and skill

Like many knowledge mobilization techniques, certain resources and time as well as a certain level of skill is needed in order for virtual meetings to work effectively. The resources associated with virtual meetings are related to the service or medium in which the meeting is taking place. For example, if one were to host a meeting using Big Blue Button, a meeting attendee would simply need to call into the meeting in order to attend. However, if one were to host a meeting using Second Life, a meeting attendee would need to download the game client and its associated plugins, have reliable high-speed access to the internet, and have a moderate familiarity with on-line gameplay.

Key considerations

Although the use of virtual meetings can be a powerful tool to connect individuals seeking to meet online from remote locations, there are some key considerations that must be taken into account. For example, although individuals from differing areas can connect online, virtual meetings would be a poor choice if one or more of the individuals wishing to meet lack internet connectivity. Similarly, the infrastructure available to a person who wishes to partake in a virtual meeting must be taken into account if such a meeting is to be successful. Relatively powerful computer hardware and software as well as moderately fast internet connection speeds are needed in order for virtual meetings to take place.

Furthermore, the technological prowess of the individuals seeking to connect online could prove to be another potential barrier to virtual meetings. If someone is unable to understand or is unwilling to learn how virtual meetings work, they will be unable to participate.

Finally, time zone differences must be taken into consideration when hosting a virtual meeting. For example, a meeting taking place at 8:30PM Eastern Standard Time in Ontario, Canada would have to take place at 10:30AM the following day in Japan.

The take away

Virtual meetings are powerful tools that enable people to connect via online interactions. They are applicable in the academic, professional and personal setting. Indeed, virtual meetings can be used to connect with distant family and friends, allowing one to interact face-to-face with others. For example, face-to-face virtual meetings have allowed members of the Deaf community to interact using Sign Language.

That being said, virtual meetings may not be the best choice when some of the individuals involved in the meeting fail to have access to a computer and the internet. In these cases, accommodations to meet in-person or using telephone conference calls may be best.

Other resources

The following is a list of other resources and services related to virtual meetings:

Technique of the Week #2: Infographics

What are infographics?

Have you ever found yourself needing to relay a large amount or complex pieces of information in a concise and efficient manner? If so, infographics may be one of the many tools available to do so. As the name may suggest this week’s technique , infographics, employs the use of graphic elements in order to present information to a particular audience.

Although not formally named as such, infographics have been in use for a lengthy period of time, often being used in scientific books and  maps as early as the 1600s. Since then, their utility has expanded from academia and cartography  to include any discipline or area needing to relay knowledge. As an everyday example, newspapers often use infographics to present the weather, show current stock rates, and  analyze the outcome of sport events.

Resources, time, and skill

One of the attractions to using infographics as a way to mobilize knowledge is their ease of use. With little effort, a visually appealing and informative graphic can be made either by hand or using a variety of online tools. For example, here is an infographic I recently made using Piktochart.com that took a relatively short period of time.

Infographics are only limited by the ingenuity of the individual that is creating them.

Key considerations

The utility of infographics lie in their ability to display complex knowledge in a simple way. However, sometimes a particular piece of knowledge needs to remain complex and not be distilled in any way in order to remain  informative. For example, if a novel new technology is being researched, the findings associated with that research are probably best disseminated through lengthy papers as opposed to an infographic. This way the  subtle nuances associated with that research are not lost.

Furthermore, the target audience of the infographic should be taken into consideration before the design. The language used within the infographic should cater to that audience (there’s no sense using jargon that your audience doesn’t understand). Also, the infographic should be memorable in some way. The use of impactful content and visually appealing displays help with this. Finally, the infographic shouldn’t overwhelm the reader. Simple messages are easier to remember and thus are more impactful on the reader.

The take away

Companies and organizations can establish and align their goals through the use of infographics. For example, an infographic could be used to represent a Theory of  Change, detailing the paths of knowledge used in each part of that organization. Furthermore, infographics could be used as a means to disseminate knowledge between groups within an organization. Furthermore, infographics may be used in order to raise awareness on an issue; by first gathering the attention of a reader, then directing them to more detailed sources of information such as a policy brief or a research paper.

The following is an infographic on how to create successful infographics and the things that should be avoided by R Alwis, C Evans, S Karmali, M Maheru, & D Sriram (2014).

Other resources

New Knowledge Mobilization Toolkit

The Knowledge Mobilization Toolkit is designed to inform and equip users with the knowledge and tools needed to mobilize knowledge, and ultimately improve outcomes for children, youth and families. The toolkit also has inspiring stories from the field of mental health. The toolkit has three components: planning, doing, and evaluation. Each component also has tools and resources that can help your organization in all components. You can find out more about the Knowledge Mobilization Toolkit and download the toolkit here.

Parliamentary Internship Program

The Parliamentary Internship Program is now accepting applications! The programme offers one of the première post-graduate work-study experiences in Canada. For more than 40 years, it has given young Canadians an unrivalled opportunity to work closely with Members of Parliament for ten months, contributing directly to Canadian public life; to meet and discuss public affairs with some of the country’s leading thinkers and policy makers; and, at the same time, to study Parliament and the cut and thrust of Canadian politics – both up close on Parliament Hill and in comparison with other legislatures through study tours to Washington, London, Brussels, Québec City and Iqaluit.

You can view The Parliamentary Internship Program website for more information and application details.

 

CarletonNow Articles

Carleton University’s monthly community magazine has published two articles that you may find interesting. One features the KMb Game that was created by research assistants in the KM Hub. This game is aimed to teach newcomers to knowledge mobilization about knowledge mobilization, as well as create a shared learning experience. The other article features the Violence Against Women hub’s documentary that highlights the stories of five Ontario activists and their work spanning more than three decades. The documentary will not only provide a historical record, but also identify what changes have been achieved, what those changes mean, and future directions.

KMb Game article

VAW hub Documentary article

Special Issue: Community-Based Participatory Research

The journal of Scholarly and Research Communication has released a special issue titled: Community-based participatory research. This issue covers a number of topics such as strategies for sustaining complex partnerships, engaged scholarship regarding the Queer Liberation Theory Project, and Knowledge Co-Creation and Assistive Technology. You can view the whole issue here.

Technique of the week #1: Gamification

What is Gamification?

  • Gamification is defined as the use of game mechanics, style or design techniques to accomplish a goal. E.g., learning games, raising awareness of social justice issues.
  •  Gamification works when it is engaging, players are motivated to “win” the game, seek to satisfy their curiosity, and because it is fun!
  •  Gamification can be applied to any subject, discipline or topic, therefore making it a very versatile knowledge mobilization technique.

Resources, time, and skill

  • Resources, skill, and time to build a game vary depending on the complexity of the content and the game as well as the nature of the technology used.
  •  Learning games require content knowledge, ability to design learning objectives, activities to create the conditions for learning, and to develop methods of assessing the learning.
  •  As with other KMb techniques, understanding the audience, their level of knowledge, interests, and technological preferences is critical. Do keep in mind presentation time. For example, you may wish to build in shorter or longer options for users depending on the time they have available.
  •  The game should not be overly complex for participants. Design the complexity of the game to meet the needs of the audience. In general the less complex the better. You want their cognitive load on the content of the game not the operation.
  •  Cost to build the game vary. A good initial step in development is an inexpensive prototype to test the game, fine tune the structure, game mechanics, and design.

 Key Considerations

  • Electronic or not? Creating electronic interactive games requires access to skilled multimedia specialists and content that is highly rules based. The nature of your audience and the extent to which they use virtual media will be a determining factor.
  •  Competitive or collaborative? Your decision will depend upon your values and the nature of your audience.
  •  Audiences? Games can be suitable for all audiences. The design process needs to determine the most engaging format and process for specific audiences.

 The take away

  • Gamification is an engaging technique that can be applied to many different subjects or disciplines
  •  Start with an inexpensive paper based prototype of the game to test it with the target audience(s)
  •  Make the game fun to play.

 Resources and Examples

The poverty Game (http://playspent.org/),

The KMb Game (download presentation here)

Games for Change -An organization whose mission is to “Catalyze Social Impact Through Digital Games“

http://badgeville.com/wiki/

http://www.lostgarden.com/2006/10/what-are-game-mechanics.html.

http://www.zahiruddinarif.yolasite.com/resources/AIJM%20June%202012.pdf#page=109

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