Our Study

Community-Engagement in COVID-19: Exploring online and remote pedagogies amongst practitioners

Early on during the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us struggled with how to build, maintain or sustain pre-existing relationships, partnerships or community-engaged projects in ethical ways. Since we were not able to gather in-person, many community-engaged workshops, projects, and meetings  moved online, or to phone or messaging apps. Other projects adapted to mail or drop-off delivery.

Female-identifying, brown-skinned person handing off a plant to a male-identifying brown-skinned person beside her. Both people are emerging out of enlarged, floating cellphones from the waist up. Plants and flowers are growing out of the floating cellphone that the woman-identifying person is emerging from.

As practitioners, we were encountering unique ethical and pedagogical challenges in adapting our work online, or to remote settings. There were also limited resources to guide this process.  While secondary or post-secondary institutions developed online learning resources, these settings are guided by different goals, aims and institutional contexts. Similarly, research ethics boards are not attuned to the unique issues of participatory research, where there is a strong emphasis on the process of doing work together, in a good way.

 

At the same time, we were impressed by the resourcefulness of many community-engaged practitioners who were working alongside communities to develop new ways of maintaining connections during a challenging time, marked by multiple pandemics and heightened inequities. 

 

We reached out to our networks. We invited 31 community artists, community facilitators, participatory researchers and participatory visual methods practitioners across Canada into dialogue. Together, over the fall and early winter of 2021, we hosted a series of focus groups. We discussed the ethical commitments  guiding our work, the opportunities and tensions of adapting participatory, community-based approaches online, and the unique ethical issues or "lived tensions" which arise. We also hosted public events to bring students,  community-engaged practitioners, and faculty into dialogue so we could extend the conversation.

This website shares what we learned, and provides some useful resources for community-engaged practitioners, initiatives or organizations who are learning how to adapt participatory initiatives, programs, or workshops online.

 

Click on "Acknowledgements" to learn more about who has been involved, and has helped us on this journey.