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Canadian government launches networking platform for academics and students

Image via GCcollab.ca.

Ever felt like the government is a faceless entity that’s out of reach for you? How would you get in touch with them if you’ve got a great idea you’d like to pitch?

In an effort to encourage collaboration between public service and academia, the Canadian federal government has created a networking site enabling academics and students to connect with them.

Part LinkedIn, part Facebook, and part events calendar, GCcollab uses an existing open-source communication platform already used for internal communication within the government.

With this latest iteration, GCcollab allows users to create profiles similar to LinkedIn, and incorporates a newsfeed like you would find on Facebook, as well as a calendar of upcoming events.

The site’s main appeal, however, is its Groups function, said Jeff Outram, the lead analyst overseeing the platform.

The site’s Groups feature allows users to join open or private groups based on common interests, similar to a forum. Group members can post comments to discuss a particular topic, ask questions, request feedback, or share digital sources.

Speaking to University Affairs, Outram said that the website encourages “informal networking between the public service and government stakeholders”.

During its pilot stage last September, faculty staff and students at five higher education institutions tested out GCcollab.

As news of the platform spread, so did demand for access. Within a month, the site was made available to academics and students at all universities and colleges in the country.

The platform has recently been made accessible to public servants at provincial and territorial levels to spur more communication and partnerships between researchers and federal employees.

At the end of last month, nearly 37 percent of the platform’s 800 registered users were from academia.

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