Stop Re-Inventing the Wheel: A Case for GCshare, a Content Sharing Platform
I have the greatest job in the world. I have the privilege of listening to people’s ideas for learning on a daily basis. As they share their story, I can see the passion in their eyes from their belief that their new concept is going to satisfy an unfulfilled need. However, more often than not I know that not only has someone else already had a similar idea, but they’ve already published it.
Normally, I encourage them to build on the idea’s potential, while also recommending they consult different sources to see an existing variation of the concept. My intent is not to steer them away from realizing their potential, but rather to provide them with a stepping stone to build their idea quicker. People from my organization, as well as others, ask me questions on the best way to design new courses on Orientation, Indigenous topics and even Digital. As a result of all these conversations, I know there are a dozen different organizations creating their own version of these courses. I often wonder why each person feels the need to build their own course from scratch.
Why does each organization feel the need to build their own course from scratch?
The Culture Challenge of Sharing Learning Content
Earlier in my career, the concept of sharing courses between organizations for free was non-existent. Organizations cared more about recuperating funds than they did about providing more public servants with access to their learning. This process of negotiation resulted in weeks, months and even years going by before a course was shared between organizations and then made available to their learners. One can easily surmise that the cost and time required to negotiate the terms exceeded the cost and time required to develop the course itself.
The public service must shift its culture around content sharing.
I appreciate that each organization must invest time and money into developing quality content and that it is natural to expect to be compensated. Yet, the reality is that the cost of public service learning content is funded by Canadian citizens and remains the property of the Crown. Our public sector guiding principles remind us that public servants are entrusted to use and care for public and Crown resources, for both the short term and long term. They also emphasize that collaboration and professional development are essential to a high-performing organization. This means that the sharing of content across organizations is not just a great idea, it is necessary for the public good. Furthermore, the Government of Canada Digital Standards tell us to empower staff to deliver better services and collaborate widely. Thus, we are out of alignment with these principles when one group of public servants has access to quality content, while the other doesn’t. I argue the public service must shift its culture around content sharing to tackle the wicked problems of today. Luckily, things appear to be changing.
What could this experience look like?
Imagine a scenario where someone with an idea for a new Orientation course could search a platform to see if a course already exists. Their search results yield a list of courses and resources related to orientation and onboarding. Rather than start designing a new course from zero, they are then presented with several options:
- download all or some of the resources and use it for their organization;
- download the resources and tailor them to suit their needs; or,
- download the resources, tailor them, and upload the new versions of the resources for others to use.
A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle. — James Keller
The third option above shows where things start to get really interesting. Not only have we provided an individual with a better starting point, but they have now contributed to a community of sharing content and open educational resources (OERs). To build on James Keller’s metaphor, we have lit their candle without loss and they now have the opportunity (and platform) to do the same.
I intentionally chose not to limit users to federal public servants. I believe that such an initiative can create a space for others to access and share content. There is no need for us to limit access as there is no significant increase in cost to support such a space. All can benefit from this initiative, whether it be public servants from municipalities, provinces, territories, other nations, or even the general public.
Great idea but surely it’s been done before
Yes, content sharing and OERs are not new concepts. In fact, one of the opportunities that drew me to online learning was the fact that the Internet provides the ideal network for the sharing of content and resources to the less fortunate. Look no further than eCampusOntario and BCcampus who provide brilliant models to emulate. They provide students and instructors with access to content and resources from post-secondary institutions from their respective provinces. I strongly encourage you to check out their platforms for yourself!
Want to get involved?
As part of our GCshare initiative, the team (and its partners) is focusing its efforts on building a learning content sharing community and testing different learning content sharing platforms. If you are interested in being part of this initiative or would like to know more, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or feel free to send me a direct message on Twitter or LinkedIn.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.