The Community Learning Space Project was a joint undertaking by the Computer Systems Group (CSG) at the University of Waterloo and the Social Planning Council of Kitchener-Waterloo (SPCKW). Our vision was to provide the technologies and processes to provide information useful to a community that can be accessed over the web. We call this a community learning space (CLS). These learning spaces are dynamic and constantly growing and are supported by databases, maps, and tools to keep the data up-to-date. The data sources can be from many different organizations in the community with an emphasis on local content. The project increased the sustainability of on-line access to information, enhanced the types of information available on-line within the local community and is community focused.
The first project began in April 2001 to provide career services information based on data gathered by the Waterloo-Wellington Training and Adjustment Board and Waterloo-Wellington Information Network. A second project began in September 2001 and involved four partners (Waterloo Regional Arts Council, Canada’s Technology Triangle, SPCKW and the Rural Switchboard). The first project was supported by a grant from the Kitchener office of Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC), and the second was supported by a grant from the Office of Learning Technologies of HRDC.
Over the course of 2001, the employment support learning space was created. SPCKW assumed responsibility for updating and enhancing the data and CSG developed the initial learning space technology and tools. With feedback from community-based focus groups, the learning space evolved to include categories that better organized the data to help clients find relevant information, as well as provide several search methods including keyword search, assisted search and geo-map search. This base technology was applied to the second project and incorporates substantially improved and new tools and technology. The current, publicly accessible learning spaces can be accessed at http://learningspace.uwaterloo.ca and others will be added as they become publicly available.
The Academy contains descriptive information for both projects:
- Career Services (Employment Support) Learning Space - supported by Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC), Kitchener Office
- Community Learning Space - Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC), Office of Learning Technologies
Project description is an Adobe Acrobat Reader document.
A key to project success is building partnerships. The partnership between CSG and SPCKW was invaluable. SPCKW staff's knowledge of the community and information needs, and their data expertise provided the foundation for CSG's tools development. CSG's research and development created a simple process to deliver community data providing better electronic access to community resources for all members of the Waterloo-Wellington community. While local organizations can continue to house and maintain strategic community information, partnerships with these organizations can achieve an integrated yet distributed community-based electronic information network.