Skip to main content
Register here to attend in person

25 October 2021 - 25 October 2021

1:00PM - 2:00PM

IAS Seminar Room, Cosins Hall, Palace Green

Share page:

IAS Seminar by Prof Alan J. Daly, University of California San Diego.

This is the image alt text

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Despite the immense pressure the current pandemic has put and continues to place on the
educational sector, these times also provide an unprecedented opportunity for addressing issues
that have been limiting the system and need to be tackled in order to further enhance the
equitable distribution of educational resources and outcomes. In this context, having access to
high quality information and resources is instrumental to make progress and to be able to face
new and unprecedented challenges. However, schools and teachers are often overwhelmed by
the sheer amount of information and resources available, particularly in online spaces, and
cannot necessarily find suitable materials by themselves. Furthermore, while many Federal
funding schemes, Philanthropy efforts and knowledge brokers (e.g. non-profit, intermediary
organizations and think tanks) have a stated mission to produce high quality knowledge
resources to specifically support underserved communities and the educators that serve them,
their materials just do not seem to get any practitioner uptake. Part of the underlying reason is
related to the fact that these systems typically utilize more “traditional” communication and
disseminating strategies, e.g. massive email lists, conference booths, or professional

Research in the Network Science space argues that these more formal “distribution” channels
are a “spray and pray” strategy that does not take advantage of existing social networks that
support the efficient and effective movement of resources between and among individuals.
Hence, knowledge brokers need a new and innovative set of tools – in response we are
attempting to create a SOS Learning Recommender – that helps them to better understand social
network structures and support the dissemination of knowledge resources to specifically
targeted users. This would greatly increase the likelihood of those resources ending up in the
hands of those that need them, as knowledge brokers would better understand exactly what
(individual) schools and teachers are looking for. Additionally, as many resources often draw
on dominant culture paradigms and assumptions that do not reflect the communities in which
they may be deployed, enabling knowledge brokers to better understand the communities in
which they want to deploy knowledge resources will allow them to be more responsive to local
needs, see local communities as being funds of knowledge and assets, and contribute to the
disruption of dominant cultures and beliefs that can be detrimental to underserved communities.
Primary Outcomes and Questions
In this context, knowledge brokers need to better understand the social opportunity spaces
(SOS) in which they and their partners operate. Engaging with and within these SOS creates
opportunities to find what individuals are looking for without imposing formal structures and
considerations on them. Even more so, we know that these SOS are places where people access
and acquire social capital. This social capital can then, among other things, facilitate
information flows and the opportunity to attain valuable information from outside one's regular
working environment. Here, we focus on online SOS that take place within online social
networking sites (SNS), such as Twitter. They not only allow knowledge brokers to easily share
their information and resources with a wide audience of schools and teachers. Online SOS also
provide an opportunity for knowledge brokers to re-consider their dissemination strategies,
optimize their outreach and targeting efforts, as well as measure the impact of their efforts to
support schools and districts. And while information overload and hidden network structures
remain key challenges in these spaces, we hope to be able to provide knowledge brokers with
filter mechanisms that can help them to identify important information and interested users
within these online SOS. Our aim will be to build-upon previous work and develop new tools
that enable knowledge brokers to better understand the existing social network landscape and
support the effective and efficient dissemination of knowledge resources to specifically targeted
users. However, we are currently wrestling with some key questions:
1. How do we support an increased understanding of the knowledge broker themselves to
more efficiently and effectively disseminate knowledge & assets with focus on social
2. How do we Increase the availability of secure and credible tools for knowledge brokers
to inform their knowledge mobilization
3. In what ways can the use of social network analysis tools enable targeted knowledge
4. How do we augment the availability of tools that surface inequities in network
5. How do we create tools and activities that measure impact of knowledge mobilization