Abstract: In this article, we integrate our authorship experiences with insights from nine interviews of knowledge exchange practitioners at the Canadian Forest Service about challenges and opportunities of digital knowledge exchange (KE) brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. We aim to inform how best to maintain efective KE practices and processes in a digital-frst world. Interpersonal trust and relationships are pivotal to efective knowledge exchange; thus, removing these dimensions risks losing aspects of social learning, informal and meaningful discussions, and personal connections that afect how we interpret and respond to subtle afective and social cues. For KE practitioners, lack of in-person interactions risks internal KE coordination and relevance of KE work, and diminished ability to predict and respond to user needs. However, the accelerated digital adoption has increased reach and accessibility for diverse people to exchange knowledge, and enables more frequent and rapid response to issues and events by virtually gathering diverse people almost instantly. The acceleration in digital innovation and culture has thus resulted in new tools and diversifed approaches for the KE toolbox to inform decisions and practices. The long-term sustainability and efectiveness of digital KE depend on two interconnected factors: addressing the persistence of the digital divide and people’s abilities to make and maintain meaningful social connections in the absence of regular face-to-face contact. We thus ofer three considerations to guide KE eforts and initiative in a digital-frst world: (1) consider both digital divide and equity; (2) revisit user needs and preferences for KE to address the diversity of users, and (3) leverage the diversifcation of KE approaches and innovations.
Citation: Nguyen, V.M., Bell, C., Berseth, V., Cvitanovic, C., Darwent, R., Falconer, M., Hutchen, J., Kapoor, T., Klenk, N., & Young, N. (2021). Promises and pitfalls of digital knowledge exchange resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Social-Ecological Practice Research, 3(4), 427–439. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42532-021-00097-0