What Was Said
The Edmonton City of Learners Dialogue was held in June 2010 with public and partner agency representatives. The workshop examined opportunities and challenges in the area of learning and helped identify priorities and specific recommendations for action that could be adopted to enhance equitable access to learning opportunities.
The top ten areas of focus for The Edmonton Learning City Initiative were identified, in no particular order, as:
Increasing Awareness of Existing and New Learning Opportunities
The responders requested that a campaign be created to spread awareness and generate interest in new and old learning initiatives. Example: Utilize “211” more effectively.
Equity and Inclusiveness
There is a desire to see broader and more equitable access to learning opportunities with assistance provided to ensure that structural barriers do not prevent any from taking part. Example: Efforts to address transportation costs for learners. Related to this is a desire to see more inclusive instances of Edmontonians from diverse backgrounds learning side by side and form each other.
Example: Youth teaching seniors how to use technology.
The Need for Networking
Focus on building collaboration between, but not exclusive to, groups of similar interest and focus through a “network of networks.” This also contains the idea of creating some sort of database so groups can meet and organize themselves into a learning community.
Example: Online collaboration tools.
Focus on the Needs of the Learner
Change programs to fit the needs of the learners, as opposed to changing the learners to fit the needs of the program.
Example: Programs which focus on learners’ strengths.
Awareness of Multiple Types of Learning
This idea reflects the respondents’ desire to see as much recognition for informal learning as there currently exists for formal learning. Many respondents saw encouraging participation in the various learning opportunities in Edmonton as a vital aspect of The Edmonton City of Learners Initiative.
Example: Passports and Internships
Early Childhood Learning and Development
Many respondents requested that The Edmonton City of Learners Initiative focus on making early childhood learning a priority, as it would create better life-long learners and allow a more inclusive environment by breaking down cultural and systemic barriers to learning.
Example: More and better child care services.
Functional Literacy and Literacy Skills
Participants stressed the importance of promoting literacy as a window into other forms of learning. Respondents mentioned functional literacy specifically because, for many of them, it is the foundation for all other types of learning.
Example: Functional literacy programs.
Instead of focusing on one specific age group, it was recommended that programs be initiated to include learning experiences for the entire family.
Example: Create programs where the parent is just as much a participant as the child.
Life-Long Learning Process
This area of focus is about generating acknowledgement that learning is an inescapable aspect of life and must be celebrated because of it.
Example: Celebrate life-long learning!
Funding and support are a vital part of any successful initiative. Participants requested that it be ensured that the Learning City Initiative receives substantial and lasting support from a variety of contributors. Example: Create partnerships with businesses and other institutions aside from the City of Edmonton.