The Western Canadian Learning Network (WCLN) is a consortium of over 50 school districts and divisions who work together for the benefit of their students. WCLN maintains over 70 text bookless courses, along with hundreds of custom “Video Tutorials,” “Inquiry Projects,” “HTML5 Games,” “Question Databases,” and “Creative Lessons.”
The evolution of collaborative support for digital learning in British Columbia (BC) can be traced back to the beginning of Cool School in the late 1990s. A small group of like-minded educators began the process of combining scarce resources to share costs and technical expertise to develop digital media in support of online learning in British Columbia. Through the foundational work established by Cool School the BC Learning Network was formed in 2006 by four public BC school districts based in the Okanagan-Thompson Region.
A focus on ‘grass roots’ educator collaborative processes and curricular pedagogies suited to distance learning resulted in the non-profit organization growing from the original four members to over forty public school members within six years. In 2018, the WCLN Society was formed in response to requests from school divisions in Alberta and Yukon to join in the collaboration and the BC Learning Network was renamed to the WCLN.
The purpose of the WCLN is to work together to support distance learning programs, blended learning, teacher collaboration and professional development, and encourage twenty-first century pedagogy and best practices in education. Working together allows WCLN to develop better online resources, create teacher communities, and establish cost-saving partnerships with industry.
Valued partnerships with educational agencies and industry have assisted WCLN in creating a ‘tool box’ of curriculum, management software, and digital tools which support educators in organizing their work for successful student learning. Interactive media, gamification, and pedagogy supporting digital learning, project based learning, and inquiry continue to evolve with each new annual cycle of development.
WCLN’s development cycle begins each fall based on teacher feedback from the field through the Educator Forum’s on its website. Surveys to the field followed by the design of annual development goals discussed directly with educators during the provincial digital learning conferences in both BC (i.e., Digital Learning Symposium) and in Alberta (i.e., blendED Symposium). WCLN’s development cycle is finalized each year with the release of courses in August. The development is done by teachers and programmers and is carefully coordinated to ensure consistency and progressive direction.
The process is guided by our Technical Coordinator, Project Development leaders, and teams of educators who contribute their collective talent to produce original content focussed on Western Canadian Curriculum. The collaborative efforts that began in the 1990’s have continued to demonstrate how dedicated educators supporting each other and working collaboratively can have a tremendous impact and benefit students across Canada.