In 2007, the B.C. government launched a plan that would radically change post-secondary education in the province.
While some of the 52 recommendations from its Campus 2020 report were implemented—for example, granting university status to five B.C. colleges—the recommendations near and dear to BCcampus Executive Director David Porter’s heart weren’t.
Porter wants the B.C. post-secondary system to look and act more like a system rather than a set of 25 institutions – a tapestry, rather than a collection of threads.
BCcampus produced the BC Learning Gateway concept paper, calling for a “federated approach to service provision” in 2008, one place where students and parents could access current information from academic and training institutions, as well as government and provincial partner agencies that provide library services, financial aid, application services, and course transfer information.
Porter says that students aren’t that concerned about the mechanics behind the learning gateway concept; they just need to know that there is a unified, authentic, B.C.-branded and trusted set of services they can use.
Like many new ideas, it takes a while and multiple retellings of a concept for it to get legs,. Meanwhile students still have to spend a lot of time and energy searching for the information they need from multiple sources.
The barrier, according to Porter, is partly about branding. But he believes that there “remains room for all institutions and academic agencies to work together to take a federated approach to service delivery and present a British Columbia post secondary brand.”
That doesn’t mean anyone has to give up their own branding, just that common services should have a unified look and feel—in much the same way a software suite or set of mobile apps does—and be accessible as a reliable, constant point of contact at every stage of the learning lifecycle.
Even though the province has not implemented the gateway idea, BCcampus continues to champion the concept.
Porter says people have to learn more about a learning gateway concept before they will be comfortable with, and ready to implement, the idea.
To that end, BCcampus created two animations in 2008 to help promote the learning gateway at regional post-secondary meetings. In addition, staff is currently working on an updated prototype concept for a common visual look for key student service areas to help pitch the next generation of common federated services.
“Geoff Plant [the author of Campus 2020] talked about a learning gateway in 2007. I wrote the BCcampus learning gateway paper in 2008, it was a call to action saying ‘hey, system partners, can we get together and do this?’ And six years later, we’re in the same place. Yet the gateway idea is still viable, and students still need it.”
Today’s students are busy people. They have little appetite for inconvenience or poorly organized information directed at them. Their response to poor service or a poor user experience is not to complain about it, but simply to avoid it and tell all their friends. Service excellence it would seem is as important as academic excellence in today’s online world. -BCcampus, BC Learning Gateway
BCcampus’ mission is to help institutions work collaboratively and do things that they couldn’t easily do on their own. This saves time, money, and resources and generally makes for a better experience for students. – David Porter, executive director, BCcampus
The way it works now with all these different services is that you take the service provided. Instead, what we’d like to build is a way for you to take the service you need. – David Porter, executive director, BCcampus
- Campus 2020 report
- BC Learning Gateway concept paper
- BCcampus Learning Gateway video, episode 1
- BCcampus Learning Gateway video, episode 2
- Degrees of Success: The Payoff to Higher Education in Canada
- Follow David on Twitter: @dendroglyph