Canadian Council on Learning

The CCL had its first elearning workshop today, and I attended from the NRC-IIT video conference facility. The major problem was the technology – we couldn’t get a real conversation going as about 20% of the time we were fighting with the technology. I’m told that the main issue was that users did not know how to use the technology (an open source system, run mostly over the mega-bandwidth CA*Net).
I’m still formulating my thoughts on CCL. Here is what I know so far.
It has received $85M to establish five knowledge centres:

  • Adult Learning in Atlantic Canada
  • Early Childhood Learning in Quebec
  • Work and Learning in Ontario
  • Aboriginal Learning in the Prairies, Northwest Territories and Nunavut
  • Health and Learning in British Columbia and Yukon

I don’t want to appear too cynical but my first impressions were – It’s a new organisation with a new pot of money, but the same players from other initiatives that have gone by the wayside, with the same issues and agendas as well as the same barriers. That being said, upon further discussion it became evident that CCL could play a pivotal role for learning. That role would be  as an objective advocate (since the CCL is not a government agency) to advance good learning practices. Already, the CCL is advocating open source technologies and methodologies within the elearning sphere. This is a good thing, and will enable us to help developing countries and vice-versa.
On the other hand, I don’t see a sustainable business model with CCL. What will happen when the money runs out? I used to work for the Centre for Learning Technologies. We were 85% self-sufficient but it wasn’t enough for the university, so the CLT was closed after five years. How will the CCL continue when the $85M runs out? My experience with not-for-profits is that you have to work on the business model just as hard as you do with any other private sector start-up. I don’t see how the CCL will generate revenue after the initial funding is over. So my basic question is  – Is this another flash in the pan?
Any comments here are greatly appreciated, since the CCL does not have a blog/wiki or other collaborative medium (yet).

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