I’ve been talking to a few people about one of the suggestions that emerged from the industry meetings this Winter, and that was to have a regional conference around learning. As many of you know, CSTD has committed to let the NB chapter organise an elearning conference in May 2005. More details on that should be available after the chapter meeting in Fredericton in June. Date and location will be posted here, as soon as it’s confirmed.
Many of us discussed how to work as a learning industry during LearnTec at NBCC Miramichi last May. This discussion resulted in the RDeL initiative, LearnNB and CSTD-NB. Obviously things get done at conferences!
So the question is – how can we best coordinate our efforts and create a conference that brings in the best learning professionals as well as potential purchasers. This Fall we will have LearnTec in Miramichi as well as NAWEB in Fredericton. NAWEB at the University of New Brunswick is now in its 10th year, with international participation. Why not join the two conferences, or even add a third like Texpo? I’m sure that there are others that I’m missing, particularly in Nova Scotia or on PEI.
What do you think? Should any conference also have a virtual component? Could we set up high speed video conferencing between each conference, so that you can attend a session at a distance, but with a small group and your own moderator? Should we focus on specific themes? Does it make sense to have a conference of conferences?
Here is a review of some industry reports that I had used four years ago as references for an evaluation of TeleEducation NB. I’m putting it up as a reference.
The 1999 Industry Canada research report ?ï¿½ï¿½Ç¨?ï¿½Sector Competitiveness Framework – Education and Training Services?ï¿½ï¿½Ç¨ï¿½ï¿½ listed the following issues to be addressed by government and industry:
* Collaboration, including partnerships and strategic alliances
* Quality Assurance
* Business Skills
* Validation of products and services
The 1996 ?ï¿½ï¿½Ç¨?ï¿½Profile of the Commercial Education and Training Industry in Atlantic Canada?ï¿½ï¿½Ç¨ï¿½ï¿½ conducted for Industry Canada cited issues of importance to the long-term prosperity of the sector:
* Credibility in the Market
* Internal Competition between Private and Public Sector
The following seven gaps in the ATT sector were identified by the Centre for Learning Technologies in 1999, in a report for the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Culture.
* Marketing and Market Understanding
* Product versus Service Emphasis
* Business and Financial Management
* Research and Development
* Human Resources Issues
* Instructional Design and Project Management Processes
* Industry Support Programs
Is there anything in these reports, from as far back as eight years ago, that could inform the industry today?
At the NS eLearning Summit on 22 April, the last agenda item was “Building the elearning Industry in Nova Scotia”. This is the same agenda item that we have had around this industry cluster in New Brunswick for a while.
Steve Kelly from Business New Brunswick gave the NB perspective, and mentioned that NB had stopped trying to create an industry association, and would instead focus on fostering a professional development organisation through the Canadian Society for Training & Development. This is a smart move, as industry associations are difficult to grow (witness NBITA), due to conflicting interests. CSTD also appeals to both vendors and purchasers, as it’s about the profession of “training & development”, and business networking is a by-product, not its raison d’?É¬ï¿½tre.
Blogging is the same. A good weblog seeks to inform and communicate. It may result in collaboration, or even business deals, but these are bi-products. As soon as we know that someone is trying to sell us something, our defences go up. If we feel that someone is honestly trying to communicate, then we are more receptive to his or her ideas.
With this in mind, I will try to foster communication and discussion in this forum, not the selling of a vision or a marketing plan. This community will be a place to discuss R&D issues, which will remain loosely defined for the time being. Specific deals or collaboration can take place “off-line” or outside of this venue – but this is where you can float an idea and see what happens.
In this same vein, I would like to expand our horizons and open this community to all of Atlantic Canada, and friends of Atlantic Canada, en anglais et en fran?É¬ï¿½ais. Nova Scotia elearning professionals are looking at ways to collaborate, and I invite them to come and talk with us. With their help, the conversations will be richer. I also hope that our friends on Prince Edward Island and in Newfoundland & Labrador will also join us. Given geographical barriers, which we all understand, I don’t believe that this will become all-inclusive; but our community will be open.
Take a look at this 15 minute Macromedia Breeze presentation by Jay Cross of the Emergent Learning Forum. Does this strike a chord? As a node of the Forum, we can extend our reach, and collaborate with people who have similar interests in extending learning. I will be exploring this further over the next few weeks.
Comments would really be appreciated.
In order to understand your areas of interest, I’ve created a poll. Please respond to it if you are interested in participating. The focus of this poll is on the interests of people in the Atlantic region, but others are welcome. Just make a comment on where you’re from. Only one vote per person, but you can always add comments.
Link to Poll
Still only 4 votes, as of 12 May
Welcome to the Community of Practice (CoP) blog on R&D issues in the region. Read the previous three posts for a bit of background, but this is the first step in fostering a CoP around issues that are of importance to us. Your participation is essential, and my job will be to connect people, ideas and communities; as well as keep the conversations flowing. Suggestions are always welcome.
Based on the general requirements for a community of practice, and the short duration of this project (six months), three separate systems will be used. Each system has its unique attributes. All systems were compared with other available systems. ACollab was selected because it is open source, Canadian and bilingual. Drupal was selected because of its scalability and the existing knowledge base in New Brunswick (I’m using it, as well as some other companies). Spoke was chosen by default, as it is the only free access network of its type at this time. Spoke was recommended by Jay Cross of the Emerging Learning Forum in California.
Collaborative Tool Suite
ACollab is a bilingual, open source, collaborative workspace, for the more intense
sharing aspects of the community. This can be password protected and allows for document storage. ACollab is developed by the University of Toronto, and this project will help to introduce it and its LCMS (ATutor) to the New Brunswick Learning community. This tool suite may only last the duration of the project, but may continue, depending on the interests of the members.
Drupal is a content management system with a powerful weblog capability. This weblog runs on Drupal. This weblog is separate from the collaborative site, and is open to the public. As the moderator, I will make posts, with comments open to anyone. The blog will likely continue for longer than the duration of the project (which is why it is separately hosted by Jarche Consulting), and will provide continuity, and perhaps a home for LearnNB related discussions. I am willing and open to move this blog elsewhere should the need arise.
Spoke enables connections with other people through your existing contact list. It allows members to see who they know and how these people may be connected to others. A number of members of the NB learning community are already members, and Spoke may become the medium by which the NB “node” connects to other “nodes”, such as Silicon Valley. Comments on how to maximize the use of Spoke will be posted to the Collaborative site. The use of Spoke will extend beyond the limits of this project, but could be an interesting component of community-building. Those using Spoke will be members of a much larger community.
Both ACollab and Drupal will be tested, and should technical problems arise, other platforms may be used in their place.
Jarche Consulting has the role of coordinating this Community of Practice (CoP) for the next six months. This will include:
Contacting and coordinating any potential members
Analyis and synthesis of any research-related activities
Moderation of any meetings and online discussions/conversations
Provision of a technology platform to enhance the CoP
Developing a case study to be made available to the industry
The NB Learning industry comprises any organisation, private or public, that is interested in emerging issues related to learning, particularly technology-mediated learning. The focus of this CoP will be research and development, especially business models and commercialisation. This will not be a theoretical or academic community, but one that is looking at the development of practical applications ?ï¿½ï¿½Ç¨ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ be they products, services, standards or models.
Membership will be open to anyone, with the initial membership working through the norms and guidelines. For instance, a group may form that is composed of CTO’s of learning companies. This group may decide to limit participation (by forming a sub-group) as they develop protocols to share intellectual capital.
As a follow-up to the discussions and collaboration of the previous six months in the NB Learning Industry, Jarche Consulting is coordinating the first formal Community of Practice. Previously the only New Brunswick organisation dedicated to advancing Research & Development in e-Learning (RDeL) was initiated by industry, under the leadership of Innovatia Inc., in partnership with provincial and federal government agencies during the Spring of 2003. This ad hoc organisation has now grown into a larger group, including the creation of the LearnNB brand and website.
A record of the discussions of the original RDeL group is still available.
In October 2003 it was determined that this discussion board was no longer adequate for the community’s needs, as it is not secure and has limited functionality. Following an industry meeting in Saint John on 15 October 2003, Jarche Consulting was given the mandate to develop a community of practice to further the needs of the R&D community. As of April 2004, some funding was made available by IRAP, and this Community of Practice initiative has now begun.
Welcome to the first weblog dedicated to elearning R&D initiatives in the region.