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Policies Survey notes:
- In Canada, there are many activities centred on the provision of digital resources, but these are not all necessarily OER initiatives. Several institutions and non-governmental organisations are active in the OER movement, although there is no formal Canadian OER policy or position with regards to expanding the scope of OER. The federal government has embarked on an Open Data initiative "making machine readable data freely available to anyone. . . in order to foster greater openness and accountability, drive innovation, and spur economic growth."
In Alberta, although there are collaborative projects to develop and share digital resources and to provide free resources, these resources are not necessarily OER and are for the most part password-protected. Similarly, Ontario has a password-protected provincial learning object repository, which allows elementary and secondary educators to share their resources with others in the province whilst retaining full ownership of these materials. Although there is interest in sharing, as in other provinces this does not currently extend beyond provincial borders. Quebec supports some small projects using OER, including the shared collegiate platform DECclic.
In British Columbia, the Ministry of Advanced Education sponsors the BCcampus initiative in support of education and training initiatives that promote the use and reuse of educaiional resources in the provincial context. The Ministry has provided over CAD 9 million in direct funding since 2003 to provide licensed educational resources for post-secondary institutions and students through the Online Programme Development Fund. This investment has resulted in the development of reusable instructional materials, including courses, workshops, websites/Web tools and course components. Some of these materials are licensed under a Creative Commons licence, whilst others are licensed through a special BCcampus licence. Athabasca University, BCcampus and the University of Ottawa have worked with Creative Commons to create Creative Commons Canada. The Council of Ministers of Education, Canada has opened up discussions on OER and the inter-provincial sharing of educational resources.
- The British Columbia government has undertaken open government initiatives that provide public access to government information and data, giving citizens opportunities to collaborate on matters such as policy and service delivery. Its open government licence enables use and reuse of government information and data. In October 2012, the government announced support for an OER initiative for the creation of courses at the post-secondary level.
- Respondents to Policies Survey from Canada highlighted the following challenges to the adoption of OER:
- • There is no pan-Canadian agreement on the sharing of educational resources (this is backed up by Canada's response to the OECD questionnaire (1)).
- • There are no pan-Canadian studies on the existing OER landscape and its effectiveness, and thus provinces/territories currently say that they do not have access to sufficient data that would allow for properly assessing the economic benefits and potential impacts of OER for all partners and stakeholders involved in the development and procurement of learning resources.
- • Although OER could lead to overall savings in the production of educational resources, costs for securing the right to incorporate copyright materials in OER could increase. Third-party copyright material incorporated into those resources would have to be cleared for worldwide use, which costs more than clearing for use in a province or country. The amount of the increase remains unknown as no extensive pan-Canadian research on the amount of copyright royalties paid for the production of educational resources has yet been undertaken (this is backed up by Canada's response to the OECD questionnaire (1)).
- • There are concerns around the “integrity” of materials should they be altered and adapted, as departments will not be able to guarantee the accuracy of materials.
- • It will be difficult to ensure that materials produced are legitimately OER, as learning resources are typically developed by publishers and third-party content is used in everything from textbooks to exams. Immense resources would therefore be required to ensure that no fully copyrighted third-party content is distributed inappropriately.
- • There are also concerns around “accountability” and the use of public funds for the explicit development of resources used outside the provincial jurisdiction.
Canada is a large country occupying over half of the continent of North America, touching three oceans - Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic. Its population in 2011 was c. 34.5 million . Bold text The federal capital is Ottawa.
There would seem to be a strong argument that a Commonwealth country of this size would have many points of relevance, generally and in education, to many larger countries in the European Union. While true generally (e.g. for industrial policy) it is not at all true for education - the provinces are the relevant entities. See later for details.
Many if not most Canadian universities have competence in e-learning at least in pockets. Several major e-learning systems past and present have come from Canada, some from academia but most not - for example, in recent years WebCT and Desire2Learn, and many years ago the CoSy and FirstClass conferencing systems used at the Open University. We give the main ones below of relevance to an EU audience.
Canada is divided into 13 provinces and territories of which the most important and relevant in e-learning terms are the following:
- British Columbia, population 4.6 million, thus rather smaller than Scotland but rather larger than Wales and similar in population to Ireland - the bases of the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Simon Fraser University (SFU), two notable institutions in e-learning; and also of Thompson Rivers University (TRU) which now operates the Open Learning Agency for British Columbia. Another university prominent in elearning is Royal Roads University.
- Alberta, population 3.8 million - the base of Athabasca University, Canada's Open University (a smaller version of the UK Open University).
- Ontario, population 13.4 million, thus not really comparable to any UK home nation (but approaching that of the Netherlands) - with several illustrious institutions. Some have a long history in distance education (e.g. University of Guelph, which has over 60 online courses ), and others (e.g. the University of Waterloo, and the University of Ottawa) have extensive blended learning initiatives. The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) contains eminent researchers in schools e-learning known across Europe and beyond. OCAD University (Ontario Institute of Art and Design) is a leader in supporting OER for inclusive education.
- Quebec, population 8 million. in particular the Télé-université, an open learning section of the Université du Québec à Montréal.
For further details on education at the provincial level see CMEC (Council of Ministers of Education of Canada)
The ten provinces are Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan. The three territories are Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon.
For further general information see Wikipedia:Canada.
Education in Canada
For a general description of education in Canada see Education:Canada.
In Canada, almost alone among countries in the world, education at all levels is so completely devolved to the provinces that there is not and cannot be a Minister of Education for Canada. (The wikipedia article on Education in Canada gives more details including of the residual federal responsibilities. See also CMEC.) (sourced from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_Canada)
With the earlier caveat about the devolved approach to education, here are the basic facts.
Education in Canada is generally divided into Elementary (Primary School, Public School), followed by Secondary (High School) and Post Secondary (University, College). Within the provinces under the ministry of education, there are district school boards administering the educational programmes.
Schools in Canada
Canadian education starts with pre-schooling, including kindergarten, which is followed by primary, secondary and post-secondary education (universities and community colleges. Provinces use different terminology for the Intermediate level e. g. “Middle School”, “Junior Secondary”or “Junior High”. Information on public educational institutions in each province is available online at the CMEC website. For historical reasons, the school system in some provinces includes constitutionally protected separate or Catholic schools (Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan). Quebec and Newfoundland have recently dropped denominational schooling and BC and the Maritime provinces (PEI, NS, NB) have never had them.
Secondary schooling, known as high school, "école secondaire" or secondary school, differs depending on the province in which one resides. Additionally, grade structure may vary within a province and even within a school division. Education is compulsory up to the age of 16 in every province in Canada, except for Ontario and New Brunswick (where the compulsory ages are 18). Students may continue to attend high school until the ages of 19 to 21 (the cut-off age for high school varies between province). Those 19 and over may attend adult school. Also if high schoolers are expelled or suspended for a period of time over 2 months or so they could attend night school at the high school.
Primary education and secondary education combined are sometimes referred to as K-12 (Kindergarten through Grade 12). This structure may vary from school to school, and from province to province. For instance, Prince Edward Island is the only province that does not provide Kindergarten. In contrast, Ontario and Quebec provides two levels of Kindergarten (Junior/Senior, prématernelle respectively). With the exception of Quebec, the provincial secondary school systems continue up to grade 12 (age 17 to 18). In Quebec, the typical high school term ends after Secondary V, the equivalent to grade 11 (age 16 to 17); following this, students who wish to pursue their studies to the university level have to attend CEGEP which is a unique educational institution, between high school and junior colleges. Cegeps are often referred to as "junior colleges". Students take a two or three year community college vocational or professional program, or a pre-university CEGEP program which is for two years (university for Quebecers is three years rather than four in the other.
Most provinces have both anglophone and fancophone public school systems, each province is divided into districts or divisions. Normally, all publicly funded schools are under the authority of their local district school board. These school boards would follow a common curriculum set up by the province. Only Alberta allows public charter schools, which are independent of any district board - instead, they each have their own board, which reports directly to the province. In Québéc, all students must attend a French language (francophone) School up until the end of high school unless one of their parents previously attended an English-language school somewhere in Canada (immigrants from other countries cannot use this exception). However this law applies only to public schools, and immigrants to Quebec can send their children to English 'private schools.
Education is compulsory up to the age of 16 in every province in Canada, except for Ontario and New Brunswick, where the compulsory age is 18. In some provinces early leaving exemptions can be granted under certain circumstances at 14. Canadian provinces generally have 180 to 190 school days in the year, officially starting from September (after Labour Day) to the end of June.
Canada spends about 4.8% of its GDP on education (UK 5.4%). Since the adoption of section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights 1982, education in both English and French has been available in most places across Canada (if the population of children speaking the minority language justifies it), although French Second Language education/French Immersion is availble to English speaking (anglophone) students across Canada.
In Canada there is no obligation for parents to place their children in the public school system, and about 5 to 6 % of students are in the private system. Nevertheless, there are more and more private schools in urban areas (high schools, especially). It is not unusual for the wealthy and prominent in Canada to send their children to public schools, especially in the lower grades. A far larger portion of private schools are religious based institutions. Private schools are also used to study outside the country. For example one in Italy has an Ontario curriculum.
Each province deals differently with private religious schools. In Ontario the Catholic system continues to be fully publicly funded, but other faiths receive no such funding. Ontario has several private Jewish, Muslim, and Christian schools, but all are funded through tuition fees. Since the Catholic schools system is entrenched in the constitution, the Supreme Court has ruled that this system is not unconstitutional. However, the United Nations has ruled that Ontario's system is unfair. In 2002 the government introduced a controversial proposal to partially fund all private schools, but this was criticized for undermining the public education system and the proposal was eliminated after the Liberals won the 2003 provincial election.
In other provinces privately operated religious schools are funded. In British Columbia the government pays 50% of the cost of religious schools provided that they meet rigorous provincial standards. The province has a number of Sikh, Hindu, Christian, and Muslim schools. Alberta also has a network of charter schools, which are fully funded public (not private) schools offering distinct approaches to education within the public school system (note that the province does not grant charters to religious schools). These charter schools have to follow the provincial curriculum and meet all standards, but are given considerable freedom in other areas. In all other provinces private religious schools receive some funding, but not as much as the public system.
Canada has been a leader in online learning being the first country to teach MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses)
There is no quality process at the national level. Quality processes are controlled by the educational ministries in the different provinces. In the Atlantic region, four provinces collaborate on curriculum at the secondary and primary levels. Independent quality councils for the post-secondary level exist in the provinces. However, the interprovincial Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission is responsible for quality control at the post-secondary level for the three Maritime provinces (NS, NB, PEI).
Internet in Canada
Internet in Education
See CANARIE - http://virtualcampuses.eu/index.php/CANARIE
Canadian instructors/researchers were the first to introduce MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses).
Copyright law in Canada
Copyright in Canada is based on British Common Law and as such considers exceptions for fair dealing as being integral and as much a part of the law as the protection of author rights. It allows for a privileged monopoly on th use of their works for authors that lasts up to 50 years after their death.
Copyright law in Education
Canada passed new copyright legislation in October 2012. While expanding the concept of fair dealing to include education. The new law has been heavily criticized for its inclusion legal limitation on breaking technology protection measures (TPMs) even for legal purposes. The main advance for education has been clarifications put forward by the Canadian Supreme Court in its interpretation of fair dealing. This more open interpretation provides much more flexibility to educators and institutions in making fair but effective use of educational resources. For example linking in the Internet to copyrighted works is no longer problematice, nor is copying portions of work into course packs for use by students.
In 2004, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled on the interpretation of fair dealing, noting that it must be given a “large and liberal interpretation”. They introduce this six point test on whether or not a dealing is fair:
1. Purpose: education, research, parody, sampling etc is permitted 2. Character: Were multiple copies made? 3. Amount: What percent of the work was copied? 4. Alternatives: Were open resources available that could have been used? 5. Nature: Was it published? Was it confidential? 6. Effect: Does it negatively affect the market of the work?
In July, 2012,the Supreme Court ruled on the ‘Copyright Pentalogy”, a series of copyright cases. The judgement was very favourable for education in Canada. The major implications for education are summarized:
Copyright law is not just about protection the author; it also is about dissemination to the public
- Technological neutrality: The law is neutral in terms of whatever technology is used. This allows users to move technology from one platform or device to another.
- Fair dealing was once again stressed as being integral to copyright law, and it must be given a "large and liberal interpretation".
- Instruction and research are essentially the same. Copies of reasonable amounts of works can be duplicated by the instructor for class use.
- Research" is not restricted to "creative purposes". It can be personal interest.
- The user's purpose is paramount in deciding whether copying is “fair”
- If copying increases the sale of work, then it does not have a negative impact
OER Initiatives in Canada
In its response to the OECD questonnaire Canada reported that despite its relatively limited involvement in OER it does have some important areas of expertise, mostly on the tertiary level, which could be built upon or replicated more broadly. Canada commented also that there is no government strategy at present, but there is discussion going on at the provincial/territorial level. (1)
For a comprehensive description of the few OER initiatives in Canada see the companion report Overview of Open Educational Resources Policies in Canadian Institutions and Governments
National OER initiatives
Regional OER initiatives (Provincial OER initiatives)
The nearest is BC Campus which could be construed as a province-wide initiative. See http://www.bccampus.ca/bccampus-news/tag/OER
Institutional OER initiatives
Canadian Open Access Policies
The following Canadian institutions have been listed in the Registry of Open Access Repositories:
- Athabasca University 
- Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) 
- Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance(CBCRA) 
- Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR)
- Canada Proposed Funder Mandate Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada(NSERC) 
- National Research Council of Canada (NRC) 
- Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) 
- Fonds de la Recherche en sante Quebec (FRSQ) 
- Canadian Health Services Research Foundation (CHSRF0 
- Queen's University Library 
- Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance (CNCRA)
- Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) 
- University of Toronto 
- University of Guelph Faculty of Environmental Sciences 
- Concordia University 
- Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada 
- International Development Research Centre (IDRC) 
- University of Ottawa
- University of Guelph 
1. Hylén, J. et al. (2012), “Open Educational Resources: Analysis of Responses to the OECD Country Questionnaire”, OECD Education Working Papers, No. 76, OECD Publishing. http://oer.unescochair-ou.nl/?wpfb_dl=38