Mediating boundaries between knowledge and knowing: ICT and R4D praxis

Reichelt, N. T.; Wallis, P. J.; Ison, R. L.; Davies, J.; Carberry, P.; Sparrow, A.; Hall, A. and Maru, Y. (2016). Mediating boundaries between knowledge and knowing: ICT and R4D praxis. In: 12th European IFSA Symposium - Social and technological transformation of farming systems: Diverging and converging pathways, 12-16 Jul 2016, Harper Adams University, Newport, UK.



Research for development (R4D) praxis (theory-informed practical action) can be underpinned by the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) which, it is claimed, provide opportunities for knowledge working and sharing. Such a framing implicitly or explicitly constructs a boundary around knowledge as reified, or commodified – or at least able to be stabilized for a period of time (first order knowledge). In contrast ‘third-generation knowledge’ emphasizes the social nature of learning and knowledge-making; this reframes knowledge as a negotiated social practice, thus constructing a different system boundary. This paper offers critical reflections on the use of a wiki as a data repository and mediating technical platform as part of innovating in R4D praxis. A sustainable social learning process was sought that fostered an emergent community of practice among biophysical and social researchers acting for the first time as R4D co-researchers. Over time the technologically mediated element of the learning system was judged to have failed. This inquiry asks: How can learning system design cultivate learning opportunities and respond to learning challenges in an online environment to support R4D practice? Confining critical reflection to the online learning experience alone ignores the wider context in which knowledge work took place; therefore the institutional setting is also considered.

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