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Using online communications technologies and communities of practice to strengthen researcher-decision maker partnerships

Successful knowledge transfer is all about relationships. As anyone who has conducted research with non-academic partners knows, it takes a considerable amount of time and effort for these relationships to be fruitful. The great benefit of placing this work within the context of a community of practice is that it gives researchers and decision makers a structure within which to interact.<p>
This study explored ways in which a community of practice framework can be used to develop and nurture relationships between researchers and decision makers. Further, it investigated how these communities of practice can be supported by online communications technologies. Its major contribution is the development, testing and refinement of a checklist of six ways that researchers can connect with decision makers in communities of practice, both in person and online. This checklist provides concrete, practical suggestions on how to develop an effective community of practice. Items in the checklist are based on both the academic literature on knowledge transfer and communities of practice, and the authors experience as part of an academic research unit focused on conducting collaborative research with community and government partners. Each item in the checklist was validated through interviews with members of two communities of practice. While the initial checklist had five items, a sixth was added following analysis of the interviews.<p>
This checklist is generalizable, in that it can help guide any kind of community of practice, not just those in which members work on early childhood development issues, nor those communities in which researchers and decision makers interact. It is a valuable contribution to knowledge transfer methods at a time when both interest levels and efforts to improve knowledge implementation are widespread. The final checklist reads as follows:<p>
A community of practice should:<p>
1. provide opportunities for regular interaction between community members;<p>
2. allow members to participate at varying levels that can change over time;<p>
3. provide both public and private spaces for interaction;<p>
4. document its goals, activities and outcomes, in order to develop a knowledge repository;<p>
5. identify and document the value of the community itself; and <p>
6. enlist the guidance of a technology champion in order to use online communications technologies effectively.
Date20 May 2010
CreatorsMacqueen Smith, Catherine Fleur
ContributorsDickinson, Harley, Walker, Keith, Stoicheff, Peter, Muhajarine, Nazeem, Warden, Kathryn, McCalla, Gordon
PublisherUniversity of Saskatchewan
Source SetsLibrary and Archives Canada ETDs Repository / Centre d'archives des thèses électroniques de Bibliothèque et Archives Canada
Detected LanguageEnglish
Rightsunrestricted, I hereby certify that, if appropriate, I have obtained and attached hereto a written permission statement from the owner(s) of each third party copyrighted matter to be included in my thesis, dissertation, or project report, allowing distribution as specified below. I certify that the version I submitted is the same as that approved by my advisory committee. I hereby grant to University of Saskatchewan or its agents the non-exclusive license to archive and make accessible, under the conditions specified below, my thesis, dissertation, or project report in whole or in part in all forms of media, now or hereafter known. I retain all other ownership rights to the copyright of the thesis, dissertation or project report. I also retain the right to use in future works (such as articles or books) all or part of this thesis, dissertation, or project report.

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