P21 Canada Concept Discussed In Toronto

In our first post we advocated that Canada needs a national vision for 21st Century learning models of public education. We are pleased to provide an update on some recent events that are signalling a positive trend in this direction.

On February 25th 21stCentury Learning Associates convened a group of education and business representatives in Toronto on the periphery of the ABEL Leadership Summit held at York University. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the merits of establishing a Canadian coalition similar to Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) in the United States. Our company organized the meeting in partnership with MindShare Learning in Ontario. Attendees included representatives from Microsoft, Cisco, Smart Technologies, Pearson, Nelson and McGraw Hill, as well as a number of education organizations.

In preparing for the February 25th meeting, we benefitted greatly from advice received from Ken Kay, one of the original architects of P21. Ken not only shared important insights on the genesis of P21 but generously offered to be an external advisor to P21 Canada as it develops. Kathy Hurley, a senior executive at Pearson in the United States, and a former Chair of P21, also offered advice to us during our attendance at the BETT Show in London, England in January.  Charles Fadel, Global Education Research lead with Cisco, a successful author and a member of the P21 governing board, not only shared his insights on P21 with 21st Century Learning Associates, but also attended the February 25th meeting.

All attendees expressed support for the P21 Canada concept and agreed to act as a Steering Committee until such time as a governance board is structured. The participants noted the need for the P21 Canada organization to have a broad membership base drawn from both the education and economic sectors.  A number of exciting ideas on how to customize the P21 model to the Canadian reality were also discussed. 

We agreed to develop an investment prospectus outlining various scenarios on the potential scope and scale of P21 Canada. In addition, other potential founding members will be identified and contacted prior to the meeting in May. The Steering Committee also endorsed a proposal by the Smart Technologies representative to hold its next meeting in conjunction with the Global Education Technology Summit (GETS) in Toronto, May 12th and 13th, 2011.

In a related development, 21st Century Learning Associates has discussed the P21 Canada concept with a representative of Canada’s National Research Council. NRC’s mandate is to foster innovation in Canada and the federal agency recognizes the role of learning in building a creative and innovative workforce. NRC is seeking new models of collaboration between the business and education sectors to address Canada’s productivity and employment challenges. The interests of P21 Canada and NRC’s new Centre of Excellence in Advanced Learning and Technology (CEALT) appear aligned and the opportunity for collaboration and partnership will be further explored in the weeks ahead.

 It is also important to highlight that CMEC Ministers included 21st Century learning skills on their February 23 agenda. It is imperative that CMEC Ministers take a leadership role in promoting 21st Century learning models in public education. A P21 Canada coalition will work with CMEC Ministers to support this goal.

If your organization is interested in the P21 Canada initiative, or if you would like to offer suggestions regarding an inaugural P21 Canada business plan, please respond to this blog, send an email to  or twitter @21CLearnAssoc. We welcome your ideas and advice.

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About 21stcenturylearningassociates

President 21st Century Learning Associates Education consulting firm specializing in 21st Century Learning - the why, the what and the how.
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