interactive groupware to facilitate discussions, set the GLC's goals and determine what is needed globally to enhance educational technology.
The GLC collaborations are moving beyond joint Internet projects to include more in-depth studies of educational technology trends around the world. Under the banner of the GLC, Pennsylvania, Canada and the European Community hope to sign an agreement early this year to develop an international model on how to develop a technology index, or survey, for global comparisons of schools. The project will build on work already done in Pennsylvania, where a technology index has been developed to rate the health of technology in the commonwealth's schools. Education officials have used the index to determine which states are technology-poor, and the index has shed light on whether commonwealth funds budgeted for classroom technology are being spent as planned.
Perhaps nowhere are governments more eager to share information and strategies than on the Y2K frontier. Last year, a casual dinner party discussion in Ottawa of Y2K between Olson and Douglas Hull, director general of Industry Canada, led to the creation of The Executive Survival Guide for the Year 2000. The 18-page collaborative primer, which explains in layman's terms how executives in private industry and government can best battle the millennium bug, has been distributed to more than 1 million Canadian corporations. Another 2 million copies are on order. The guide is also available in French on the Canadian government's year-2000 Web site and is being translated into Spanish to meet increasing interest of countries in Central and South America.
To complement the survival guide, The Canada-Pennsylvania Partnership Council has collaborated on a suite of Y2K-awareness products that includes two videos, an interactive CD-ROM, a workbook for small businesses, color posters and a speaker's tool kit containing a Microsoft Power Point presentation for officials wanting to build community awareness of Y2K. Pennsylvania's Office of Information Technology Web site resembles a QVC shopping site, Olson joked, except for one major difference -- the Y2K materials are free.
And with the Y2K deadline closing rapidly, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge has offered camera-ready artwork for The Executive Survival Guide for the Year 2000 to each U.S. governor for free use in their states. As of early November, nearly a dozen states and two major U.S. corporations had agreed to sign the licensing agreement, which gives them free use of the survival guide in exchange for placing the Canada-Pennsylvania Partnership Council's logo on the cover.
Other states have responded in kind to the open dialogue. Texas agreed to let its workbook on Y2K for local governments be posted on the Pennsylvania Web site, and a similar agreement will make Colorado's workbook on the effects of Y2K on embedded technology available to all interested jurisdictions.
The Local-Global Alliance
Olson admitted that a partnership between individual states and other nations is unusual, but as competition in the global marketplace grows tougher, it makes sense for states and local governments to aggressively pursue agreements, informal or formal, if there are common goals. It's important to be open-minded if you want to keep up in a culturally diverse world, he said.
"I had never worked with anyone from Singapore, but I started to see consistent themes in health care, telemedicine, distance learning, and electronic commerce," Olson said. "And that's when it just clicked -- they have themes and directions that we want to go with, but we can add something to it."
Now, trade missions to other nations, including Ireland and Belgium, are creating new opportunities for Pennsylvania and GLC members. When it comes to intergovernmental partnerships, consortium members aren't writing off even the most
"Whether it's with a local government, another state or internationally, look for every opportunity to leverage what you're doing with somebody else, so you can grow in knowledge even faster," Olson said.
Tom Byerly is a Sacramento, Calif.- based writer. Email