Tuesday, January 1, 2013

About the Project

This is a Canadian-funded partnership development project to examine the use of low-cost information and communication technologies (ICTs) for knowledge mobilization among agricultural communities of practice. The primary purpose of the project is to establish and support the activities of an emerging international and multi-organizational research partnership with the broad goal of enhancing capacity for local innovation through appropriate and sustainable ICTs. To this end, the project partners are working together to develop a set of case studies that will examine how academic institutions, government agencies and international organizations can work with local communities to enhance knowledge mobilization for sustainable farming practices using low-cost, widely accessible information and communication technologies such as mobile phones and radio broadcasting. 

Partnership development activities will take place in three phases between 2012 and 2015. The first phase of the project centres on a set of core activities intended to establish working relationships among partner organizations and to establish a work plan for achieving the mid and long term objectives of the partnership. 

A set of case studies identified during the initial phase of the project will provide the basis for an Integrated Action Research Strategy based on a community of practice framework. This approach begins with a collaborative study to explore the social practices that communities engage in with respect to knowledge mobilization for sustainable agriculture. The initial study will specify a methodological framework and research instruments to develop qualitative descriptions of agricultural communities of practice in order to suggest areas where low-cost ICTs might be introduced to enhance knowledge mobilization both in terms of expert and indigenous knowledge.  A rapid prototyping method will be developed and introduced to support the implementation and assessment of a small set of short duration pilot projects to test ICT enhancement ideas. Results from the pilot projects will, in turn, provide a basis for further discussion of the impact of ICTs on the social practices of knowledge mobilization within the communities and possibilities for local innovation. 

The third phase of the project will reflect on and critique findings from the integrated action research study.  The partners will work together to propose a model for ICT-enhanced knowledge mobilization that integrates local communities of practice in partnership with local university, government, and non-government partners; in relation to this, the partnership will also develop a training strategy to transfer capabilities to local communities to enable rapid implementation and evaluation of ICT-enhanced services to address emergent needs and knowledge acquired of local agricultural communities of practices. The third phase will also focus on the development of an ongoing and expanded partnership arrangement with a longer term research agenda. 

This research was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

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