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Leen D’Haenens

Part Three: Communities in Cyberspace

Two Canadian Models of Communities on the Net: SchoolNet and Community Access (

Alan L. Cobb


This paper outlines recent experience in Canada with two national initiatives: SchoolNet and the Community Access Program. Launched in 1993, SchoolNet is surpassing all expectations and is considered to have been an outstanding success. SchoolNet connected 300 schools by 1994. All 16,500 schools are connected as of 1999. In addition, 400 of the 450 First Nations schools and 2,100 of the 3,400 libraries are connected as of 1998. As of the end of 1998 all libraries and First Nations schools were connected. Each month SchoolNet receives 2.5 million “hits.” Every day, on average, someone signs on to SchoolNet over 83,000 times. Launched in 1995, and an offshoot of SchoolNet, the Community Access Program is an equally outstanding success to date. Beyond the use of computers, the purpose of Community Access is to provide Canada’s rural communities with affordable public access to the Information Highway and to familiarize rural Canadians with how the Information Highway can be used for economic and community development, particularly the creation of jobs and growth. The Program provides assistance of up to Cdn$30,000 to help cover the start-up costs of establishing a community site, including equipment, Internet connections, staff, training and technical support. A site is usually situated in a community center, library, school or other public facility. Average program costs to date (i.e., the 50 percent share) is some Cdn$20,000. Starting with 20 sites in 1994, there are now over 1,200. While the current target is to establish sites in 5,000 remote communities by year 2000, there is a proposal to increase that target to 10,000 communities in the same timeframe

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Extrait du texte

In this paper I will outline recent experience in Canada with two national initiatives, SchoolNet and the Community Access programs. These two programs are helping Canadians, especially our youth, to live, learn and earn a living in an increasingly knowledge-based society and economy.


Before dealing with the specifics of the two programs and some of their underlying principles and approaches, it might be helpful to give some understanding of the Canadian reality:

  • Canada is a constitutional monarchy and a federal state with a bicameral parliament, ten provinces and two territories – one of the world’s most highly decentralized federations;
  • Canada is a geographically immense and diverse country, a relatively small population, blessed with a vast storehouse of natural resources, a strong and developing manufacturing sector, and a highly competitive service sector. Canada is a leader in communications technology and launched the world’s first commercial communicat...


Several senior executive positions in the Government of Canada over a thirty-year period. He is currently a Management Consultant based in Ottawa offering executive management services to industry and governments in Canada. E-mail:

© Les Presses de l’Université d’Ottawa | University of Ottawa Press, 1999

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