RSD, Infectious Disease, and Biomimicry

Hi Everyone!

The RSD Framework ( is an easy sell to people who already embrace research and who are interested in “best” pedagogical practices. I see a lot of publications regarding how the RSD was implemented in across disciplines and in a variety of settings.  However, I am interested in the process as well as the products.  How does one move beyond “early adopters” with new ideas and technologies?  I am beginning to reach out to K-12 institutions and try to convince them to try working with the RSD.  I wrestled with the “best” way to do this.  There is anecdotal evidence about what is working.  Here goes:

Strategy 1:  Start with someone you know.  I know a person at the university whose partner works in a K-12 setting.  I have had these folks to my house for dinner so there is a relationship that has been established.  This gets a foot in the door.  As a first step then, start with people with whom you have a relationship.  As a result of this first attempt I found myself talking to the curriculum director.  It turns out that there is a major overhaul in the curriculum planned and thus my request for collaborating on RSD-related initiatives was timely.  The resulting insights:  a) start with people you know and b) find the person in charge of curriculum.

Strategy 2:  Start with those people who have a need.  Again, I knew a teacher who is starting a new project at her/his school.  This involves curriculum reform.  The person came to me for help regarding new curriculum and the RSD was a good fit.  There is potential here but this time I started at the teacher level and will have to see about working up to the administrative level of the school hierarchy.  The resulting insights:  a) work with people you know and b) find where the need is and tap into the need.

Strategy 3:  I have heard of a number of schools who are implementing new teaching strategies.  This comes from word of mouth, the Internet and newspapers.  Some people I may have met in passing but there is no relationship established.  I collected information, created a database and just sent out an email invitation asking for potential collaborators.  We will see where this leads.

More importantly though is the question about how to engage more people in the RSD and move beyond the early adopters and advocates.  I got thinking about infectious diseases and the press’ (at least in the U. S.) attention to infection rates, danger to the public, and the like.  We want the RSD to be “infectious” (in a non-threatening way),  to catch on, so that a broad spectrum of people will use it.  Taking this one step further I think about engineering and problem-solving processes.  One of the strategies that is used to inspire innovation is the idea of biomimicry (<a href=”; target=”_blank”></a&gt;).

So here is my challenge to all of you readers:  How can we use biomimicry to develop strategies to move the RSD framework from the early adopters and advocates to the “infectious” (in a good way) stage?  What are the “best practices” we should use to do this?

2 thoughts on “RSD, Infectious Disease, and Biomimicry”

  1. Hi, thanks for your post and the opportunity to contribute to your RSD101 strategies. I have been using the RSD since 2009 at Monash University with library staff. The RSD is now embedded in our practice and informs our collaboration with academics for students research skill development in the curriculum. The library-led grass roots approach became ‘infectious’ and the RSD is now a university-wide educational strategy.

    Your question ‘How do I engage others?’ is therefore high on the list of FAQs for library staff who introduce discipline academics to the RSD as a tool to inform library-faculty collaborative teaching partnerships for students’ research skill development. For new RSDers, definitely start with people you have an established working relationship with, exploring the RSD together means you build your understanding together. For advocates- be sensitive to ‘the right time’ for others to adopt the RSD, be patient but be ready to identify the ‘hook’ or the ‘what’s in it for me’ factor when it arrives.

    To expand on your ‘engagement’ strategy – ‘Find where the need is’ I’d like to add – ‘Make the RSD speak your language’. By this I mean, break down each of the Facets of Research’ to the sub-skills that are relevant to your discipline, or the discipline of the person you are introducing the RSD to. In this way you are translating the RSD to a meaningful language of disciplinary specific skills and making it personal and relevant. The added bonus here is that the skill statements you develop can become a skill bank of learning objectives or be used to examine, map and evidence the skills curriculum.

    As for biomimicry: Sustain the RSD by keeping it relevant.
    We connect the RSD to other frameworks used in the faculty (educational, disciplinary and vocational) so that the RSD doesn’t get pushed aside by academics suffering framework fatigue. We show how the RSD works with, complements and activates other frameworks. The RSD’s levels of autonomy are very powerful as they operationalise the skills in the curriculum, autonomy provides the ‘how’. This element is usually left out of other frameworks that are based on skill lists and exit statements.

    Learn together.
    We have an informal community of practice where novices and experts explore the RSD together – where both learn from each other. Experts facilitate BaF (Bring a Friend) workshops with novices for new library staff, and for mixed groups of library and academic staff to encourage collaboration and keep the Community of Practice alive.

    Find new uses for the RSD, be creative with it, adapt it.
    Our music Librarian has interpreted the Facets of Research for music performance!! Awesome!!

  2. Thanks for the insights Sylvia! Your question is very helpful ‘How does one move beyond “early adopters” with new ideas and technologies?

    I too have been thinking in terms of ‘natural growth’ of RSD uptake, and observe that the framework has the ‘gestation period of an elephant’ ie you cant rush the conceptual development of that baby in an educator’s mind- it has to be ready to emerge. Often people seem to take a few years from first hearing of the RSD to being ready to use it- such as when a problem presents itself and the RSD is perceived to be a possible solution.

    For biomimicry, I like ‘symbiotic relationships’, where the host ‘DNA’ and the RSD’s ‘DNA’ conceptually support each other- without one being dominant. This is like disciplinary experts taking the ideas in the RSD and adapting the framework to suit the learning conditions. The Mechanical Engineering tutors reconfiguration of the RSD as Optimising Problem Solving (OPS) pentagon is a good example of this:

    Other biomimicry models for RSD maturation and spread:
    Grape vines- best when pruned back regularly, and roots and trunk grow deeper and more solid, leading to larger and larger yields of grapes and wine!

    Star fish- we are often seeing colleagues ‘chopped off’ (retrenched) from an institution, like a starfish leg. But then that leg can regrow elsewhere.

    Coconuts- have inside them the makings of a coconut grove as they float on the oceans, who knows where, hoping for an island with enough life-giving water

    BTW- the ‘levels of autonomy’ of the RSD can be viewed in terms of educator autonomy in implementation of the RSD (or any initiative) where many people need a high level of structure and guidance when encountering new terrain in terms of IT or concepts.

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