This website is the home work space of the Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research‘s Virtual Platform Laboratory (VPL) to study online engagement and knowledge-sharing. Launched in July 2013, the VPL project is testing how development organizations and project teams working on a global level can use easily-replicable, open-access technology to achieve better outcomes in their work.  Supported by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the project is a response to IDRC’s 2012 Canadian Learning Forum that focused on how virtual platforms can help international development organizations use online tools more effectively.  Please read below for a summary of the project’s objectives, anticipated outcomes, and evaluation methods.


The CCGHR’s knowledge platform is the hub of a thriving knowledge-sharing network of global health researchers and knowledge users.  The network is inclusive, equitable, and easily accessible.  Network members connect with each other and share knowledge in efficient and innovative ways, resulting in improved communication and greater ties between the production and use of knowledge.  Network connections support the ongoing development of South-North research collaborations, strengthen existing partnerships and lead to the cultivation of new ones.  New knowledge is shared with its relevant users, who in turn incorporate this knowledge into policy and practice, ultimately contributing to improved health outcomes. These outcomes are, in turn, communicated throughout the network, best practices that encourage ongoing learning and capacity-strengthening at individual, institutional, and systems levels. As a result of this strategic online communication—both at the broader network level and within specific research groups—knowledge is managed and shared much more efficiently than in the past.  The result is a thriving GHR network that supports new partnerships and collaborations, creating a community of producers and users working together to address the global health challenges of the day.


The Virtual Platform Laboratory (VPL) project is a catalyst transforming the CCGHR into a thriving knowledge-sharing network of global health researchers and knowledge users. The project strengthens the CCGHR’s current knowledge platform by developing and testing strategies and tools that promote better communication and knowledge sharing among users—and then actively diffuses these innovations and best practices among network members. Successful members actively use five different knowledge platforms on a routine basis to efficiently access and share information, and to develop dynamic new partnerships with other network members.  Network members routinely circulate success stories of their resulting communications innovations, encouraging buy-in, adaptation and adoption by demonstrating how to better connect south-north research partners, strengthen existing partnerships, and cultivate new ones. Dissemination via traditional and social media platforms raises awareness of the project and the CCGHR among key audiences, creating greater stakeholder support, and diffusing network innovations among other knowledge users to encourage the development and use of similar knowledge platforms. All of this contributes to a dynamic, evolving, inclusive, equitable, easily accessible and innovation-diffusing network of global health researchers and knowledge users.

Project Objectives:

The project team will:

  1. Create a Virtual Platform Laboratory (VPL) to develop and test strategies and tools to potentially enhance and strengthen communication activities of development organizations;
  2. Develop a work plan guided by the “12 key issues” identified at the CLF-2012;
  3. Explore and test the use of social media as a communications and networking tool;
  4. Create and use issue-specific “work spaces” as trial sites to test tools and best practices for communication, coordination and collaboration;
  5. Develop “how-to” guides and planning strategies so that other groups can learn from project findings and easily create similar platforms;
  6. Involve IDRC Learning Forum participants via direct communication and engagement.
Intended Results:

Products (outputs) will include: regular (approximately quarterly) progress reports; presentations at relevant national meetings; a “toolkit” with selected tools, “how to” guides and descriptions of best practices; end-of-project reports (including the results of a comprehensive survey); and at least one publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

Anticipated outcomes include:

•     an efficient VPL that serves CCGHR members and a broader “community of practice”;

•     five well-functioning “work space” groups;

•     an on-going blog that tracks progress and lessons learned, that will be publicly available;

•   a “Sustainable Management Plan” that identifies the capacity, time and monetary resources that the CCGHR will require for its virtual platform beyond October 2014, while serving as a working template for other organizations to learn from.


Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning:

Using IDRC’s “outcome mapping” framework, more detailed outcome statements will be negotiated at the outset of the project with each of the “work space” groups. These will serve as a foundation for identifying progress markers and designing a more detailed outcome and performance monitoring and evaluation plan.  Lessons during this process will be captured and used to strengthen the on-going organizational performance of the CCGHR.

The site will be used in the following ways:

  • Update team members via a central blog feed (available on the home page), providing updates on the project and seeking input from team members as we go.  Again, email will not be replaced, but we will explore how this option can best help the team towards success (e.g. monthly project updates, seeking input on specific ideas, etc.)
  • Encourage team members to learn more about each other 
  • Foster a collaborative environment for communication with each other
  • Share relevant documents as they are created
  • Create an online information database of how-to documents and videos for Coalition “connectors”

Questions or Ideas?

If you have any questions or ideas regarding this website, or suggested pages that might be helpful please don’t hesitate to contact us via our Contact Page.

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A Project of the Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research | Funded by the International Development Research Council