Collaboration in Distance Education: International Case Studies

By Louise Moran; Ian Mugridge | Go to book overview
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Chapter 8

The Contact North project

Collaborative project management in Ontario

Marian Croft

Contact North is a distance education network created to improve access for secondary and post-secondary students in northern Ontario, Canada. Initiated by the Government of Ontario, Contact North is managed collaboratively by four post-secondary institutions. The project represents a major collaborative success, largely because of the unusual partnership between government and traditional post-secondary institutions it models and the commitment of these partners to its success. Various evaluations to date conclude that collaboration-both the capacity for it, and its practice-has been a significant, if not the most significant, variable contributing to this success.

This chapter deals with the project both in its pilot phase (completed in 1990) and its programme phase, which is still developing. It augments a pilot-phase analysis (Croft, Arblaster, and Derks 1990) and considers new collaborative dynamics introduced by the second phase, which demonstrate the importance of organizational culture in the development of collaborative relationships. 'Collaboration' here refers to inter-organizational co-operation in project management-in contrast to Patry and Charron's concept of consortia (1990)-and is used interchangeably with 'co-operation'.


Northern Ontario comprises approximately 90 per cent of the province's land mass of 450,000 square miles, but, with less than 800,000 people, it has only 10 per cent of Ontario's population. It is an area of climatic extremes and small, isolated communities whose economic well-being has traditionally been tied to primary


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