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CAUT Bulletin Archives

March 1997

Education and training research networks established

Building an innovative learning society

SSHRC has established five large-scale research networks in education and training. Involving universities and community partners in all provinces and several countries, each network will receive annual funding of $225,000 for the next five years. They were selected from 47 grant applications submitted in a two-stage national competition which concluded in October of last year.

Each network brings together individuals from the academic, public, private and non-profit sectors to research and identify best practices for the promotion of learning throughout Canadian society. Key objectives include identifying the links between learning and economic success, between training and Canada's international competitiveness, and between education, innovation and the evolving training needs of Canadians.

The specific research agenda of each network is being developed through working partnerships of researchers, educators, policy makers, business and industry leaders. The network teams will examine strategies, programs and policies aimed at meeting the current and future educational requirements of Canadians in different walks of life. This collaboration among the various partners will help ensure that research findings are shared effectively with those responsible for policy-making and program development in order to improve the quality and responsiveness of education and training in Canada.

The Education, Training and Employment Research Network focuses on the structures and processes of education and training. A team of researchers at several universities in Quebec, working with a host of colleagues in other provinces, Europe and the United States, will study how effective partnerships in education and training are constructed. in addition, the network involves representatives from 35 organizations, including leaders in policy planning and development, organizations in the field of education, as well as community organizations, unions and companies.

The network's research program covers curriculum evaluation, education governance, apprenticeship models in Canada and abroad, the changing role of the private sector in the public education system, and the assessment of training outcomes for learners and the labour market. Université du Québec à Montréal educational sciences professor Marcelle Hardy is leading the network.

The Network for the Evaluation of Education and Training Technologies (EvNet) is a multidisciplinary, multisectoral research enterprise involving 33 academic researchers, 35 collaborators or practitioners, and representatives of 61 public, private and non-profit organizations. A key goal is to produce innovative courseware for distribution over the INTERNET and through more traditional forms of delivery.

EvNet aims to produce three specialized multimedia training modules for use in the workplace, for instructors in higher education, and for the use of graduate research assistants. Network researchers will evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of existing and developing courseware and instructional technologies. This will assist educators and trainers in selecting the technology aids they might use for their courses and programs. McMaster University sociology professor Carl Cuneo is serving as the network's director.

The Western Education and Training Research Network focuses on the links between the provision, processes and outcomes of education. Drawing on the knowledge of researchers, educators, employers and policy makers in Western Canada, the network will examine policy issues and initiatives in the area of education and training. Performance indicators, as well as educational and economic outcomes, will be assessed.

The social processes which determine desired training outcomes, and how such processes are shaped by the experiences of educators, will be considered through case studies. The effects of these processes will be documented and monitored. Professor Jane Gaskell, Associate Dean, Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia, is leading the network. Its members include researchers from Europe, the United States and Australia.

The Research Network for New Approaches to Lifelong Learning will document the relations between informal learning and formal education. Network researchers aim to identify major social barriers to integrating self-directed, informal learning with formal (full-time and part-time) programs and certification. New program initiatives intended to overcome such barriers will also be examined.

The network's research program has been developed by six teams of academics from a range of disciplines in the social sciences and humanities working with corporate, trade union and community-based partners representing various sectors of Canadian society. David Livingstone, a professor of sociology in education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, is leading this network. Researchers from 20 universities and community colleges, and representatives from 11 community groups and corporations, make up the network's membership.

The Labour Education and Training Research Network links academics from 14 universities and five community colleges together with representatives of 20 community service groups, including a number of labour unions. European and Australian researchers specializing in labour market issues are also participating. The network aims to analyse the training industry and propose policy for its future development.

Practitioners who provide training in public schools, commercial enterprises and labour unions are a key focus of the network's research program. The public policies which create, shape and limit the work of training providers, and their role in training successes or failures, will be investigated. The network's director is professor Carla Lipsig-Mummé, founding director of the York University Centre for Research on Work and Society.

Anyone wishing to obtain more information about the Strategic Research Networks in Education and Training should contact the network directors at the universities identified above.

Source: SSHRC News