Letter of Intent

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Letter of Intent

1. Contact Info

Include name, address, phone, fax, email, website. Indicate who the principal contact is (and a cell phone number, if applicable).

Randy Fisher, MA, President & CEO iCentro Corporation Ottawa, Canada http://www.icentro.com

2. Project Description

Outline the project and purpose for which resources are being requested. (Identify the need.) Include the title of your project proposal.

Learning for Career Development: Researching, Learning and Applying LinkedIn and Social Media Applications for Better Career Counselling Outcomes in the Digital Economy.

Career counselling professionals have conventionally assisted students in establishing and developing networks in professional communities and job markets. Over the last 10 years, these networks and communities have increasingly gone online, particularly in the form of social and professional networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Academia.edu. Social media of these kinds accounts for an estimated 22% of all time spent online in the US (Nielson 2010: Online) and the most visited websites of the world are social media websites (i.e. Facebook, YouTube, blogging, Wikipedia, Twitter and LinkedIn).

Although these networking websites have become indispensable in employment networking, because of their origin outside of career counselling per se, their use and value have generally not been realized among employment counsellors. At the same time, competence in their use is by no means universal among younger (or older) job seekers. In addition, they are much less one or more "tools" than they are a context or milieu, accommodating many different communities, subcultures and practices. This extends well beyond keeping compromising photos off of Facebook, and extends to the art of professional self-presentation, network building and online publication on both formal and informal networks. All of this makes training in their effective use among career counsellors of great importance and value, but at the same time, also of significant difficulty. The fact that this is occurring at a time of high unemployment and rapid change compounds these pressures and priorities.

LinkedIn is the fastest growing professional network with 200+ million user accounts. It is the go-to place for people wishing to network, participate in groups, look for work, advertise their skills and seek additional opportunities. It is a critical element of a career counsellor's toolkit.


  • Learning: To provide career counsellors in universities and colleges with skills in using LinkedIn and other social media applications to engage and support their client-students interested in exploring career options, networking and finding employment.
  • Research: To gather and interpret trainee perceptions regarding the training; to elicit career counsellor assessments of the effectiveness of LinkedIn and other social media applications in their work; to probe perceptions about integrating new learning and skill development into on-the-job performance and professional practice.

3. Uniqueness

Briefly describe any similar/related projects and how your project differs from them.

Today, much online training consists of PowerPoints delivered via webinars, without specific instructional design for online learning. This project will embed instructional design specifically for online learning (vs. in-person or simply taking PowerPoints and putting them online) to ensure a high quality learning experience. Depending on client requirements, there can be synchronous (i.e., webinars, chats) and asynchronous components (i.e., discussions) in the learning design; faculty and learner support. There will be flexibility in the design so that it can also be utilized in face-to-face settings.

Experiential-Based Approach

Our experience in working with educators across Canada and the Commonwealth shows that the the lack of basic ICT and social media skills is a significant barrier for educators mentor and coach their peers, let alone client-students.

We have demonstrated through our experiences with the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) and the WikiEducator.org project that educators can become proficient ICT and social media users, if provided with introductory courses to learn these skills. We have developed first hand experience in developing and facilitating ICT and social media skills training through face-to-face and online learning, including:

  • Four OER workshops on basic wiki skills involving countries from East and West Africa (see: http://www.wikieducator.org/FLOSS4Edu_Regional_Chapters);
  • An OER workshop for teacher educators in India, involving representatives from more than 30 institutions;
  • Two Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth (VUSSC) boot camps in Mauritius and Singapore;
  • Two international training workshops presented in eLearning delivery formats for VUSSC member countries
  • A Pacific regional workshop for OERs involving participation from nine Pacific countries (see: http://www.wikieducator.org/FLOSS4Edu_Pacific_Workshop).

Scalability and Economies of Scale

COL's experience in open distance learning provides us with the core competencies in achieving scalability and economies of scale in educational delivery and these constitute the foundations of this proposal. The project will benefit from an iterative, learn-by-doing approach refining materials, learning resources and processes as the the project progresses. This will contribute to a recursive cycle of continuous quality improvement.


This project differs from other training as it will be delivered as a mini-MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) to reach the greatest number of people at a reasonable cost to the project funder (free to participants). It is focused primarily on university and college career counsellors, but is also open to NGOs and individual career consultants in Canada and internationally. It will build on the successes from courses currently delivered this way. MOOCs are at the forefront of a global movement to integrate education technology and a successful learning experience with a high degree of access and economies of scale. A recent example is Stanford's use of MOOCs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massive_open_online_course).

Open Education Resources (OER)

Typically, proprietary training limits access to learners who can afford it. This course content will have a Creative Commons licence as an open education resource (OER) to ensure the widest access possible. The project will achieve greater visibility in Canada and internationally, due to value-based learning and research networks in the OER ecosystem including OER Africa (http://www.oerafrica.org); the WikiEducator.org community (18,000+ educators in 120+ countries and a top 100,000 website) supported by the Commonwealth of Learning (Vancouver), UNESCO and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; and OER university (http://wikieducator.org/OER_university) whose Canadian partners included BC Campus, Athabasca University, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Thompson Rivers University and the Commonwealth of Learning.

Embedded Research

By embedding research during the project launch and pilot testing, we can establish a baseline to measure future behaviour and assess the effectiveness of future performance interventions. Moreover, we can immediately support the career development profession by using the Contact Point - Contact Point Online Community as a forum for participation and relevant learning. The research activities will analyze user patterns and participation (using Google Analytics tied to the community built in WordPress), focus groups, interviews and discussions - to help build the community, raise its visibility and expand the learning to a wider audience while benefiting the career counselling profession.

MOOC Research

Peer Skills Certification Framework

It will also embed a dynamic and experiential peer certification / apprenticeship framework, to support capacity-building in the career development field. This will enable course graduates to train-their-peers after attaining a specific and measurable level of competency using LinkedIn and other social media applications for career development activities. Peer-trainers will earn a badge of competence (i.e., measured by the Skills Certification Framework with progress and achievements assessed by their peers and recognized within the career development community) An example is the WikiMaster Skills Certification Framework. This is one of the ways to earn and build kudos in the community, achieve professional development goals (and credits) and community recognition; and support a larger community model for skill development and capacity-building. Peer teachers may also earn a bounty / honorarium for teaching activities.

Our Team

Our team has Canadian and international expertise with qualitative and quantitative research methods; action research; online / blended learning for different learning styles, cultural contexts; use of educational technologies and open education resources (including Project Management for All Careers Open Textbook); expertise in LinkedIn and social media applications and online community engagement and facilitation. We welcome the opportunity to share and publish our results at conferences and in (peer-reviewed) publications, to further increase project visibility, knowledge and information-sharing in the career development profession.

  • Project Manager / Principal Contact, Randy Fisher, MA, iCentro (http://icentro.ca) (OER expert)
  • Research Lead: Norm Friesen, Ph.D. Thompson Rivers University, http://normfriesen.info (Canada's National Research Chair in E-Learning)
  • Instructional Design Lead, Rosario Passos, M. Ed. (in progress), BC Institute of Technology.

4. Objectives

List project objectives and activities.

  • To develop capacity among college and university career counselors in the use of social media tools.
  • To enable career counselors to use social media tools to support students in their career development initiatives.
  • To prepare career counselors in colleges and universities to use social media tools within the context of career development, with a focus on LinkedIn
  • To prepare career counselors in colleges and universities to create their social media identity and image.
  • To train career counselors in colleges and universities to teach students how to use social media tools to support their own career development initiatives and job search activities.
  • To increase, measure and analyze the participation and contributions of individuals and groups and proactively facilitate learning, discussion, networking, and collaboration in the Contact Point online community (which has embedded Google Analytics). Activities and participation may also be increased in the Career Development network group on LinkedIn.

Activities & Outputs

This project includes both learning and research components to save time, money and reduce duplication of effort, particularly given a rapidly-changing social media environment. Both learning and research components feed into each other - as the learning workshops take place, they provide critical user performance data that informs the research efforts (including baseline measurements). The research will provide insight into flows and patterns of user behaviour; learning design and content effectiveness; and areas for performance improvement interventions leading to iterative changes in learning and practice. This will supports individual skills development and community-capacity-building in the career development profession.

Learning Component

  • Project coordination and client liaison
  • Clarification of project scope, stakeholder needs & learner requirements (i.e., career professionals & client-students)
  • Course design proposal / course plan
  • Course content and resource development
  • Implementation and content delivery in Learning Management System
  • Marketing, communications & outreach
  • Pilot testing (including facilitation / learner support)
  • Summary report - lessons learned


  • Marketing and communications plan and related collateral
  • Online course - approximately 8-10 hours of experiential online learning, delivered through a Learning Management System (LMS)
  • Available resources (including social media toolkit, handouts)
  • 10 workshops delivered online (1 per month) - enrollment of 100+ participants per workshop
  • Peer Skills Certification Framework
  • Train-the-trainer mentoring support

Research Component

Since this training program is in a new area, the research will be of an exploratory nature, relying on self-reporting of training participants, and encouraging their ability to identify overall and also unexpected strengths and deficits through both Likert-scale and open-ended questions.

The research will be based on current methods for understanding learner experience in designed, online and blended learning environments. It will build on existing research tools used to study the quality of student experiences in such programs, and on tools used to provide feedback in the development of instructional program development. This will combine the following data gathering and analysis techniques:

  • online surveys
  • face-to-face focus groups
  • content analysis of data produced through group discussion
  • analysis of Google Analytics data and other data sources
  • formal (APA formatted and structured) research report


  • research outreach collateral (tied to marketing/communications as above)
  • at least two online surveys (pre- and post-training)
  • all trainees surveyed
  • at least two focus groups, collecting feedback from at least 15 individuals
  • raw data / notes from Google Analytics and other data sources
  • at least one written report highlighting survey and focus group feedback
  • published articles, presentations (TBD) - Cannexus '14

5. Impact

State the impact your project will have on the career counselling and career development field.

Increased numbers of Canadian career development professionals trained in LinkedIn and other social media applications (i.e., universities, colleges, career practitioners in social service agencies and private practice).

  • For career development professionals: more effective planning of resources; skill development and capacity-building; and positive responses to business and career challenges such as employee recruitment, networking and use of social media to build a positive identity for career success; increased ability to provide relevant services to job-ready students and career-seekers.
  • For job-seekers and students: more rapid attachment to the labour market and informed career decisions, including identification of future job and networking opportunities and skills requirements, and development of skills to meet the needs of employers in a rapidly-changing, social networked world.

Performance Indicators
In the learners Continuing motivation, persistence and building of skills and knowledge.
  • More critical reflection.
  • More experiential and collaborative learning.
  • Learning communities engaging in lifelong learning.
  • Increased creativity and adaptability.
  • Increased ease and confidence.
  • Increased ability to demonstrate relevance of career development.

In the learning provision The new approaches continued to be shown as cost-effective and sustainable.
  • The Program continued to act as a catalyst for further developments.
  • The Program continued to attract other partners and stakeholders.

In the community Improved attitudes, knowledge and skills.
  • More active citizenship and personal development.
  • Greater capacity to manage uncertainty.
  • More resilience and self-reliance.
  • Greater productivity and improved job knowledge.
  • Improved employment or self-employment prospects.
  • Learning pathways into formal education for those wishing to further their education.
  • Communication across the career development profession.

(Comment.gif: See: COL QA Toolkit, QA Framework for Assessing Impacts (p. 83))

6. Required Resources

State the type of resources being requested (funding and other).

Learning Component

Funding is required for course design, development and implementation and pilot testing. As the course is designed to be dual mode, resources may also be required for online teaching and facilitation and/or logistics associated with onsite delivery. Technical requirements include access to computers with Internet access; purchase of services related to a Learning Management System (LMS), discussion and collaboration - although we propose to use open source / free alternatives such as Canvas and Moodle, and leverage the availability of the Contact Point online community.

Research Component

Funding is required for the design, development and testing of survey questionnaires; conducting focus groups, note-taking, analyzing results and writing the research report. Logistics support, travel and accommodation is required.

7. Budget & Timeline

The timeline for this project spans the remainder of 2013, and may be extended into 2014 depending on the number of workshops, dissemination and outreach activities required.

  • Learning Content Development and Course Design: $25K
  • Delivery of Learning Workshops @ $1,000 each - $10K
  • Research: $25K


Budget estimate does not include:

  • In-depth training design and content for social media other than Linked In. (This course focuses primarily on LinkedIn and connecting to other social media services (i.e., Twitter, Facebook and blogs).
  • Extensive content approvals (i.e., 2 rounds between Consultant and Client are included)
  • Translation into another language (i.e., French, Chinese)
  • Travel and accommodation (TBD)
  • Advanced use of graphics, HTML5
  • HST

8. Additional Support

List other groups/organizations from whom you have requested or received resources.

Resources requested include marketing and communications outreach support; facilities (i.e.,room, telephone / conferencing and computer logistics for face-to-face learning workshops and research focus groups); use of software / LMS and bandwidth and storage costs; and use of learning resources for remix and adaptation.

We have requested and received resources from:

  • OER Foundation / WikiEducator.org - provision of skill certification matrix and hosting / bandwidth - $12,000 in-kind support
  • Commonwealth of Learning, Canada - provision of learning materials - $7,500 in-kind support
  • Otago Polytechnic, New Zealand - provision of learning materials - $5,000 in-kind support
  • OER University, Canada, BC Campus, Athabasca University, Thompson Rivers University - $2,500 marketing and outreach services

Efforts are continuing to recruit partners to receive additional resources. We have reached out to the following career development centres in these universities and colleges: Algonquin College; George Brown College; University of Ontario Institute of Technology; BC Institute of Technology; Wilfrid Laurier Institute of Technology; University of Saskatchewan; UBC and University of Victoria. We are also awaiting contact from the Vancouver and Ottawa YM-YWCA and the Ottawa Chinese Community Services Centre.

Partnering Discussions & Outreach

We are having dialogue with the following regarding participation in this project.


  • Athabasca University
  • Kwantlen Polytechnic University
  • Thompson Rivers University
  • University of British Columbia
  • University of Saskatechewan, John Ault, Manager, Student Employment and Career Centre
  • University of Victoria, Joy Edwards, Career Educator (LinkedIn)
  • Wilfrid Laurier University, Frances Humprhies, Manager, Career Development (LinkedIn)


  • Algonquin College
  • BC Institute of Technology;
  • George Brown College, Stacey Mauger (LinkedIn)


  • Coaching2Career Program (IEPs)
  • Ottawa-Carleton Immigrant Services Organization (OCISO)
  • Ottawa Chinese Community Services Centre (OCCSC), Naomi 613-321-2483 (LinkedIn)
  • Open Education Resources Foundation, Wayne Mackintosh
  • YM-YWCA, Vancouver & Ottawa


  • City of Ottawa, Stephen Landry

Links & Resources

Helpful Docs

  • 14 weeks, 100 Learning Hours = 30 Contact Hours + 70 self-directed hours

To Do

  • Set up Research page - to jot down findings