Extension as a Knowledge System


This model of engagement is based on the ideas of knowledge systems being a series of interrelated functions and processes using terms such as knowledge brokering, knowledge translating, knowledge exchange and knowledge mobilisation.  

In 2012, at a conference hosted by the United Nations University – Institute of Water, Environment and health (ANU – INWEH) in Canada, knowledge practitioners from academia, public sector and industry came together to look at knowledge use in policy and practice across sectors and geographies.

A key outcome of the conference was to develop a framework that mapped and integrated different knowledge functions. This enabled the conference participants to share and understand each other’s experiences and form a global network of K* practitioners.

K* (KStar) is an umbrella concept that includes all diversity of knowledge functions and processes involved in knowledge systems.

The K*Spectrum is premised on the understanding that knowledge work is about generating, sharing and applying knowledge where it is sometimes inappropriate to be practiced as a linear process but rather as a messy process of co-producing and negotiating knowledge.

The K*Spectrum represents the key functions that knowledge workers can serve depending on the knowledge need and situation.

The three key knowledge functions are informational, relational and systems functions – the roles played by knowledge workers to achieve these functions range from an information intermediary, knowledge translator, knowledge broker to an innovation broker.

The K* Spectrum – Shaxson, L. with A.T. Bielack et al. (2012) Expanding our understanding of K* (KT, KE, KTT, KMb, KB, KM  etc.) A concept paper emerging from the K* conference held in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, April 2012.  UNUINWEH, Hamilton ON. 30pp + appendices p.3

It is a useful analytical framework for understanding what knowledge functions people serve when they engage with each other, and how different functions might ‘fit’ together in a knowledge system. This ultimately assists in learning from different experiences and identifying best practice in knowledge work.

The framework does not suggest a linear progression of a hierarchy of functions, rather, that knowledge work involves dynamic configurations of interacting functions to meet particular needs in a particular context that may be part of a designed intervention or embedded in everyday practice based on an individual’s skill-set.

Content source and further information

Shaxson, L. with A.T. Bielack et al. (2012) Expanding our understanding of K* (KT, KE, KTT, KMb, KB, KM  etc.) A concept paper emerging from the K* conference held in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, April 2012.  UNUINWEH, Hamilton ON. 30pp + appendices.

Vanclay, F. and Leach, G. (2011) Enabling Change in Rural and Regional Australia, in Jennings, J., Packham, R. and Woodside, D. Eds. (2011) Shaping Change: natural resource management, agriculture and the role of extension. Australia: Australasia-Pacific Extension Network (APEN)  http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/38843162?selectedversion=NBD46701883

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