Stephen Downes

Stephen Downes 

Program Leader

Learning and Performance Support Systems

National Research Council Canada



University of Calgary, MA (Philosophy) 1987

University of Calgary, BA (Philosophy) 1986



September, 2014 – present. Learning and Performance Support Systems. Information and Communications Portfolio, Emerging Technologies Division, National Research Council Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.


Program Leader. Principal researcher leading portfolio of research projects related to the design and development of personal learning environments and supportive technology. Responsible for finding and liaising with commercial partners, defining program outcomes and objectives, managing a $22 million, delivering outcomes and reporting to NRC’s Senior Executive Committee.


Projects Include:

  • Concierge Open Marketplace Solutions – Development of an internet application to assist small and medium sized enterprises identify funding programs, experts, commercial opportunities, events and resources relevant to their domain expertise.
  • MOOC-REL – Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) delivered in conjunction with the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie  to support capacity-building in the use and development of open educational resources.
  • – development and hosting of a web site enabling members of the general public to try and help improve the personal learning environment being developed by NRC.
  • Ten other projects (as of November, 2015) with six commercial partners and 35 NRC researchers).


November, 2001 – September, 2014. Learning and Collaborative Technologies Group, Institute for Information Technology, National Research Council, Moncton,New Brunswick, Canada

Senior researcher in e-learning with a focus on learning object, metadata repositories, online learning communities and new media. Responsible for initiating and coordinating world class research, participating in national and international discussions, and working with academic and private partners in product and service development.


Projects Include:

  • Personal Learning Environments – Development of an internet application to facilitate personalized access to learning resources. Project lead, responsible for all aspects of the project and team of 10 developers.
  • Connectivism and Connective Knowledge – Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) 2008. With George Siemens. 2200 student online course.
  • Synergic3 – Development of a collaborative learning content development workflow system. Research lead, coordinating an R&D team of 12 people from NRC, a university, and a corporate partner.
  • OLDaily – Author and publisher of a daily email newsletter covering the field of e-learning. Read by an international audience of more than 1,400 people.
  • Learning Networks – Distributed learner-centered online learning environments employing content syndication, web services, and distributed resource management
  • EduSourceCanada – Researcher and chair of the ‘vision committee’ in a national initiative to develop a learning object repository network


March, 1999 to June, 2001 – Faculty of Extension, University of Alberta  


Information Architect. Responsible for architectural design and construction of learning, information and resources portal for the municipal sector in Alberta. Investigating new online learning and knowledge management technologies and their applicability to continuing professional development. Reporting of research results in seminars and academic papers. Providing leadership to Faculty staff and clients as a consultant in technology selection, writing and review of RFPs, and innovation in online learning. 


Projects Include:

  • MuniMall –Team lead for development of online portal designed for the municipal sector in Alberta.
  • AMPIA – Conceptual design, review of tenders and liaison with contractor for Alberta Motion Picture Industries Association website.
  • PEGGasus – Architecture and conceptual design for a learning and services portal for the engineering and geophysics sector in Alberta


January, 1995 to March, 1999 – Assiniboine Community College  


Instructional Designer. As a distance education and new instructional media design specialist, assumed responsibility of all internet activities at the college, including the college website, staff training, and the development of online course materials.


Projects Include:

  • Assiniboine Community College Website –Primary designer and team lead for development of college website
  • General Business Certificate – Supervised conversion of program courses to distance and online delivery; designed and implemented online delivery procedures; supervised teaching staff; designed and developed learning management system
  • Brandon Adult Learning Centre – Team member for development and delivery of high school upgrading courses online


November, 1987 to December, 1994 – Athabasca University