Elle Seymour reflects on her first 6 months as NeuroDevNet’s first KT Coordinator. Learning and supporting knowledge translation to improve the lives of children with neurodevelopmental disorders.
When I tell people that I am a Knowledge Translation Coordinator I am usually met with blank stares or a spark of interest and a follow up question of, “what exactly is that?” It is easy to take a guess at the coordinator title but knowledge translation is still an emerging field that has many people confused. A very generalized definition of Knowledge Translation is supporting the flow of knowledge from academic research to end users (practitioners, industry, policy makers) including the general public where it can be practically rather than theoretically applied. David Phipps (KT Lead, NeuroDevNet) likes to say that KT “helps make research useful to society”. When I first discovered the job posting I was excited about the prospect of working in an emerging field that was beginning to be understood to be highly relevant by governments and universities alike. At first glance I was worried as I knew very little about knowledge translation, but in reality I just hadn’t properly thought about it before. I attended graduate school at the London School of Economics and Political Science and in addition to their impressive ‘LSE Impact blog’ series, they teach the importance of Knowledge Translation by posing it as a constant problem. LSE is largely focused on international development and education is one of the key resources to improve developing nations. Knowledge translation is necessary in every field and is usually subtly present even if it is not overtly institutionalized.
I decided to apply to the coordinator position as I thought it would make a great starter position that would give me an introduction to the field. I knew that I would have a lot to learn as my background was in Human Rights, but I was happy to gain these new and valuable skills. The job posting listed 3 main responsibilities: events, products, and social media. I was experienced with events as I have previously organized major conferences and the product support was a transferable skill as it included editing and formatting. The social media however, required some learning to say the least! Before this position I considered myself social media savvy. I wouldn’t have called myself an expert by any means but I was not entirely green either. I have certainly been humbled in this regard as I have seen some social media experts at work (David Phipps-KT Lead, NeuroDevNet is one example) who put my meager knowledge into perspective and along with the KT Core manager, encouraged me to pursue some self-directed learning.
So what’s next? While building my skill set I have been actively supporting the KT Core in making videos (check out our YouTube channel (Click Here), and supporting interviews with NeuroDevNet researchers to identify success stories such as the FASD play ‘Jacob’s Story’ which premiered in Kingston, Ontario earlier this year. I have also supported clear language writing and KT events such as the CP in Motion Day and the Canadian knowledge Mobilization Forum. In the next few months I plan on implementing these skills to help support a strong and connected network. The NeuroDevNet annual conference in July will be a great opportunity to speak to the researchers that I previously have only been in contact with via email. I also plan on using social media consistently and trying out all of the different methods I have researched. It is an exciting time in regards to the KT products we are working on and in the coming months we are hoping to re-launch our Research Snapshot clear language research summaries.
NeuroDevNet is an exciting initiative that has the potential to positively impact the community and I am happy to contribute to this project, even if that means I have to explain what my job is to everyone I meet!