Screenshot 2017-09-05 19.40.21

Putting It All Into Place: Launching IWF’s Learning Compendium

Knowledge Mobilization Fellow Scott Brown’s reflections on building a living resource database.


The New Dashboard Data

  • 365 Entries,  6 learning streams, 25 topical subcategories
  • Days to produce and collect all the materials = 1095
  • Weeks of sorting, sifting, collecting and categorizing = 8
  • # of newly adopted tech platforms = 1
  • # of newly made instructional videos for platform on-ramping: 2
  • # of future team hours saved = ???
  • Nearly 1 in 4 entries are tools. This means roughly 25% of entries are artifacts that we have used directly with folks from around the globe in order to make positive change in the social sector.

    40 cups of coffee containing approximately 3,800 milligrams of caffeine were directly consumed in the production of the learning compendium. This is slightly less than the Canadian average in 2015 of 2.6 cups/day.

Why a Learning Compendium?

We do a lot of educational work at InWithForward. This includes things like coaching social sector staff to become agents of innovation and change as embedded design researchers all the way to empowering socially isolated folks with disabilities to learn new things about themselves and the lives they hope to lead. Our team is also committed ourselves to remaining teachable and learning new things, be that from academic literature or the adoption of new practices and routines for better teamwork.


In all areas of our work, teaching, coaching and learning remain at the core of our value set. They are fundamental parts of what we do. But have we set ourselves up to do this in the best way possible?


Over the years we have designed dozens of tools and guides, drawn from countless social science texts and articles, and compiled numerous ethnographic stories that highlight the essence of our work in action. With each project we add more and more to our repository. Well, repository is perhaps a euphemistic way to refer to a seemingly endless mishmash of Dropbox and Google drive folders, files scattered across half a dozen team member’s hard drives, as well as videos and blog posts on our website, Youtube and Vimeo. As anyone who has ever worked with us knows, we work with intensity and passion (have you ever seen Sarah teach folks about ethnography?) creating a whole lot of stuff along the way. Yet, if we want to model ways of working that best support the path to innovation, it’s critical for us to take a look at how we work as an organization and develop ways to make it better.

Sarah using Airtable to sort through the vast trove of materials!

Getting Organized // The New Platform

One way we’re doing this is by creating a centralized InWithForward Learning Compendium for all of our educational materials. Our goal is to make it easier for our team (including some of our Grounded Space members) to utilize all the great stuff we’ve made over the years in a user-friendly and intuitively searchable way. We believe that recreating the wheel for each new project and spending countless hours searching through old folders and files is just a plain inefficient way to work. Even worse, it takes time away from doing the stuff that matters to us most, working with people and organizations to foster social impact and change.

What we’ve done is dumped 365 examples of our best stuff onto Airtable, a powerful cloud-based tool for collaboratively organizing pretty much anything (, and created a kind of InWithForward course catalogue, what we are referring to as our Learning Compendium. Organized by learning streams and subcategories and tagged up with commonly used key words, the Compendium works as a home for concentrating a vast degree of institutional knowledge in a way that is conveniently accessible to many people at any given time. Perhaps the best part about the Compendium is that it is easily added to and can grow as we grow.

We’re excited to start making use and saving time with this new tool!