11 things I want and need to know more about in my work

In this post I outline things I think I want and need to know more about in order to do my work well and support the sector in my knowledge mobilization aspirations.

How organizational leaders view and implement technology.

We’ve done plenty of consulting and convening, but not enough to get a longitudinal or baseline perspective. There are broader non-profit studies from Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. that we can learn from. But we need to baseline this knowledge, like we’ve talked about in previous reports and then check in with leadership on a regular basis to measure progress and identify areas to work on.

How front line workers view and implement technology in their daily work.

We’ve done plenty of consulting and convening, but not enough to get a longitudinal or baseline perspective (similar to leaders above). This is perhaps one of the most important groups to continue to consult with. I’ve been doing this piecemeal with some clients, where we gather in teams to talk about:

  • What works well in a digital/hybrid model? 
  • What works better in person?

They’re simple questions. But they generate incredible conversations and depth. 

We need to have discussions where everyone can share their knowledge, and work together to answer these questions:

  • What projects or efforts are you working on at your organization focused on digital or hybrid service delivery?
  • What works well in a digital/hybrid model?
  • What works better in person?
  • What do you need to make a hybrid service model work?
  • What do your clients need? How can you support them to access hybrid services that include remote/virtual components?

How we’re all doing in the sector.

We need to have these conversations, but also about people’s mental health. Health of the sector had a working group once at the national level, and it’s something that has fallen off the radar in a meaningful way. It needs to be back in focus and is also something we need to be checking in about and baselining every year.

How Newcomers are using technology these days to find and use information to help them in their Settlement journey.

We know a lot about Newcomer Information and Technology practice. Like a lot

But we need to know more. We need to build questions about digital literacy AND digital preference in every intake and needs assessment (NAARS?) process, formalize the questions, and then report back the aggregate, cross tabulated in many different ways, such as region, gender, age, country of origin, language, etc. There is much to learn by simply tweaking the data we collect just a little bit.

Add questions like these to your intake:

Preferred mode of communication with us:

☐ Email

☐ Call

☐ Text

☐ Whatsapp

☐ Facebook Messenger

☐ Other

Social media preference to stay informed about our programs and services:

☐ Facebook

☐ Twitter

☐ Instagram

☐ Other (Please specify)

What tools are good fits for front line use, focusing on secure and private interactions.

Frontline Tech for Settlement Practitioners was a good starting point. There was always meant to be more development on it. Here’s what we had originally proposed. It’s a resource that needs continuous focus and enhancement.


Compile a list of resources/ tools/ information that already exists to give service providers access to immediate resources and ideas for innovation. The library will organize and classify successful examples of technology and innovation in the settlement sector. 

The focus will be on practical projects, tools, resources, and toolkits SPOs can use as they progress towards digital transformation and hybrid/blended service delivery. The library will include operational tools, frontline service-focused, client-facing, training and professional development, data security, service privacy/confidentiality (i.e. cybersecurity) to assess digital literacy, steps to take along the roadmap, ensure that data security/encryption.

How are tools being vetted? Is there a criteria needed to get on website?

Currently tools are being added as known tools being used by frontline practitioners in the sector, and in some cases, relevant variations of those tools. An additional criteria is that the tool must also have a free version that can be immediately accessed.

This site is made up of:

  • practical tools that frontline workers can access where they haven’t had time to invest, and build internal staff capacity
  • Tools they can use easily
  • Predominantly free (or freemium tools)
  • Easily accessible by frontline workers
  • Can be applied to real world situations

Development and next steps:

UX work, testing, disclaimers done before the site is shared with the sector.

Some questions we need to answer with sector consultations and areas to continue to work on:

  • How to define tool?
  • Secondary plans to create operational technologies, policies/processes/guidelines.
  • Operational technologies that can be used within an organization, etc. A suite of tools at the organization and sector level that can help to streamline data flows and information- sharing. 
  • Newcomer-facing applications that aim at empowering newcomers to self-direct, access peer-to-peer support or otherwise support their settlement journey.
  • Having a checklist of factors can be useful. It may be a page or post about evaluating resources that are unfamiliar instead of a checklist for each tool. This can be included as a link or section in each tool description, to remind users to read as part of their tool review.
  • More user testing to get feedback about design, UX, and content.

Where other sectors actually are when it comes to technology use, not just their aspirations.

We’ve done some digging into this, but there are more lessons that can be extracted. I tend to refer to the Social Work and Health (including Community Health and Mental Health) sectors as places for inspiration. But the private sector would also be useful.

Not just learning about them but framing specific things we can borrow and perhaps modify across different competencies, both individual and organizational, would be useful.

What IRCC and other funders are doing when it comes to strategically and practically planning to fund and support organizations to deliver hybrid services.

We don’t know nearly enough about this. More is needed.

What good ideas, promising practices, and iterations and innovations service providers have that we should share.

This is the holy grail of Knowledge Mobilization. I now know more about what I want to do. This is a complex run on sentence, but it captures it:

I want to help frontline practitioners and decision makers mobilize technical knowledge/skills and practical wisdom by disseminating and synthesizing knowledge as well as creating interactive learning opportunities in order to develop solutions to practice-based problems, change practices and behaviours, produce useful knowledge, and connect people and organizations with each other’s good ideas and emerging practices.

This flow comes from a really useful image, extracted from some great research:

Image of what kind of knowledge mobilizer I am with different choices

What the best way to share all of this information is with the sector to help them in their work, making it practical, accessible, actionable.

That’s the KM plan I’m going to develop. Starting simply with these questions:

Guiding questions

  • What are you sharing?
  • Key message(s), finding, idea
  • Identify information needed to support the key message(s)
  • Why are you sharing it?

A clear goal statement

Do you want to build awareness, inform future work, change practice/policy?

Who is the audience?

Describe who they are, how they access information, and their familiarity with the topic

Then Think About How

What type and format of knowledge sharing will work? Where does the audience access information? In what format?

What would work for:

  • The message or type of content?
  • Goals?
  • Resources?
  • Partners?

Where I can best use my interests, expertise, and time to support organizations?

I can still be useful when it comes to aspects of digital transformation. In particular gathering staff and leadership to have these conversations about readiness.

I can continue to share what I’m finding and learning.

I can continue to convene and grow my Leveraging technology in the Immigrant & Refugee-serving Sector community.

I can continue to push ahead with a sector Knowledge Mobilization strategy.

What consultants are doing interesting and helpful work in our sector so I can refer people to them.

As I’ve written, I’m getting better are figuring out what my strengths and interests are. And cultivating a community of consultants to refer people to in order to get them excellent expertise and support. I’ve abandoned my Consultant Connect site, but need a personal Rolodex of these folks as a referral tool. Eventually, something more public.

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