On the Ottawa Front

At BCcampus we usually get only one chance in any year to travel to Ottawa.

So, we were really pleased to line up three excellent sessions during the week of January 30, 2012 to talk about educational technology topics from a national perspective and to consider collaborative approaches on national scale that might work to benefit us all in the post-secondary sector.

Photo: Yann Fauché & Alma Mulalic. Parliament of Canada – Changing the Guard Ceremony. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic


Last week my colleague Paul Stacey and I were in Ottawa for a series of meetings with federal government contacts at Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC).

We also met with our “e-campus” partners from eCampusAlberta, OntarioLearn and Contact North.

And, we had discussions about rekindling a pan-Canadian approach to a Creative Commons Canada affiliate with (University of Ottawa Law School) and a Athabasca University. I’ll leave this part of the post for Paul Stacey to report and elaborate.

Our contacts at HRSDC set us up perfectly for a meeting with more than 20 participants from across federal government departments. They asked us to share a presentation on our work at BCcampus and then to situate the work in a national context. They also asked us to react to three skill-testing questions in the following areas during a three-hour session:


Describe one or two real life examples in detail of the kinds of collaborative and innovative efforts by your member institutions – – and BCampus’s role in helping to bring these about. This will help people start with a tangible idea of the “what”, and provides a foundation on which to ground loftier extrapolations of how PSE may further transform in the future.

Provide quantifiable evidence of the efficiency gains that such collaborative innovations have been able to achieve (in terms of either improved learning opportunities and outcomes or cost-savings, or both) and which thereby provide the main lines of the business case for governments and institutions to further expand such efforts in the future.

Provide views on implications (if any) for HRSDC and more broadly for the Government of Canada. Are there federal programs or policies that should be adjusted to better support the efforts of institutions and provincial governments to expand efficient learning practices? Are there aspects of the modernization of PSE in Canada that require pan-Canadian coordination in order to achieve optimal economies of scale? And among these, do any require federal government involvement?

From the questions we were pitched from a primarily policy analyst audience, it was clear that government departments nationally, like their provincial counterparts, are looking for educational technologies to prove themselves on a number of levels of influence – strategic, pedagogic and economic.

Fostering government support for OER slide

Image: BCcampus 2012. CC_BY.


We were pleased to use our presentation and clear examples within it to reinforce the point that innovative and collaborative practices do have a measurable value proposition on those three levels.

We also made a pitch for HRSDC to consider some action initiatives it might support that could build towards a real national strategy:

  1. Support the design of a resource library to share “open” trades training resources (Red Seal) across Canada
  2. Support a prototype national survey (initially with 3 provinces – AB, BC, ON) to explore issues associated with management of online learning, faculty development, use of open resources, cloud-based delivery infrastructure, and quality assurance strategies
  3. Support the establishment of a Creative Commons Canada as a Canada wide open licensing service benefiting all provinces, sectors and creators
  4. Help define the public service, economic benefits, and business models available to Canadians through open licensing
  5. Support the generation of an action agenda and set of targets for solving skills and labour market needs through OER and educational partnerships.
  6. Support the development of technical linkages between CoursesBC, BC Transfer Guide, Education Planner, and Job Trends data to help students identify gaps in their transcripts or program opportunities that link well with employment opportunities

Reprinted under Creative Commons license from David’s blog: conviviality

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