canadian police knowledge network

Abstract for promotional use only. Full version available at
Andrew MacVane wrote this case under the supervision of Professors Edward Gamble, Peter Moroz and Stewart Thornhill solely to
provide material for class discussion. The authors do not intend to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a managerial
situation. The authors may have disguised certain names and other identifying information to protect confidentiality.
Richard Ivey School of Business Foundation prohibits any form of reproduction, storage or transmission without its written
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Copyright © 2012, Richard Ivey School of Business Foundation
Version: 2012-04-30
When I go back to where CPKN [Canadian Police Knowledge Network] was three years
ago, that’s when we were just starting to figure out that we had to change our strategy
from not just going out and hounding police services on the value propositions of elearning, but to actually working with them on identifying and overcoming the adoption
Typically, our biggest challenge is still cultural. The people who control training in these
organizations are trainers. They don’t want to switch. If it’s something new then they
don’t have an appetite for it. If it’s something that they’re doing now, it’s harder for
people to say “Hmm . . . what we’ve been doing for the last 25 years can be done better
this way.” So they just hang onto it. The big issue now is the biggest issue we’ve always
had, which is . . . our competition is not some other e-learning company; our competition
is the status quo.
— Sandy Sweet, president and CEO of Canadian Police Knowledge Network
The Canadian Police Knowledge Network (CPKN, was Canada’s leading provider of online training
solutions for police and law enforcement personnel. CPKN developed economical and engaging elearning courses primarily to meet the needs of front-line officers. Courses were hosted on CPKN’s
Learning Management System (LMS) and delivered via its website.1 Hosting e-learning courses through
the LMS allowed CPKN to authenticate all users, ensuring that sensitive course material did not enter the
public domain.
CPKN’s primary focus was on developing and delivering core-training courses that could be widely
administered yearly or as needed by clients. By taking a “build once, sell many times” approach, CPKN
hoped to ensure the long-term sustainability of its business model. Course prices were based on several
factors, including estimated user time to completion, media richness, funding sources and total
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development cost. Although courses were priced on an individual basis, CPKN also offered volume-based
discounting and course licensing agreements. In addition to general course design and delivery, CPKN
provided a range of other online learning services, including technical support, designated portals, custom
design and development, and consulting.
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Despite recent success in increasing their user base and generating sufficient revenue to more than offset
expenses, CPKN remained underrepresented within police training as a whole. Some time ago, CPKN
partnered with the Alberta Solicitor General to deliver their Investigative Skills Education Program
(ISEP) for frontline officers in Alberta looking to move into investigative work. More recently CPKN had
entered into discussions with them to re-purpose this training and make it applicable to a national
E-learning, also known as online learning, refers to any form of learning conducted via networked
electronic formats that permitted interactive and/or multimedia components. E-learning was a
continuation of the concept of distance learning, which encompassed earlier technologies such as
correspondence courses, educational television and videoconferencing. Studies of distance learning had
concluded that the effectiveness of these older technologies were not significantly different from the
effectiveness of regular classroom learning.2 Some argued, however, that although distance learning did
not appear to be any more (or less) effective than traditional classroom learning, its lower cost made it a
viable and oftentimes more practical form of instruction.
In a 2010 report titled Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning, the U.S. Department
of Education summarized the findings of 50 empirical studies of online learning In contrast to the findings
of prior research conducted on distance learning, these studies concluded that students using e-learning
performed better, on average, than students learning the same material through traditional face-to-face
instruction. Further, the studies found that instruction combining online and face-to-face elements had a
larger advantage relative to purely face-to-face instruction or purely online instruction.
These findings were central to CPKN’s value proposition. For many topics, it made both practical and
economic sense to teach the material online. CPKN had converted multi-day classroom training curricula
into online courses that could be completed within hours. Substantial savings could be realized by
sponsoring organizations; and the less time police officers spent in the classroom, the more time they
could spend performing their duties.
Not every topic of officer training lent itself to online learning. In firearms training, for example, although
many aspects of a gun could be taught in an online environment, the actual shooting of a gun could not be
taught online. Such subjects were ideal for a blend of e-learning and classroom-based instruction.
In 2002, Holland College had spearheaded the creation of the Justice Knowledge Network (JKN), a
research and development (R&D) initiative to research and develop e-based training options for the
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development, Evaluation of Evidence-Based
Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies, Washington, D.C., 2010., accessed March 30, 2012.
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policing sector. At that time, JKN represented a consortium of public and private partners that, in
consultation with the Canadian policing community, shared experience and resources to develop and
deliver e-learning products for Canadian police and law enforcement personnel.
Abstract for promotional use only. Full version available at
In 2004, JKN partnered with the Canadian policing community and National Research Council to create
the Canadian Police Knowledge Network, a not-for-profit organization for delivering JKN police training
products. Since that time, CPKN had become Canada’s leading provider of e-learning solutions for
Sandy Sweet, president of CPKN, had been with the organization since its establishment in 2004. Sweet
had also been an advocate for the integration of enhanced learning technologies within Canada’s policing
community since 2002.Sweet held a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from St. Francis
Xavier University and a master’s degree in Business Administration degree from Dalhousie University.
Sweet also served as JKN’s executive director and helped to broker the partnership agreement between
Holland College, the National Research Council and members of the Canadian policing sector to form
CPKN. As of March 2011, more than 60,500 learners had registered with CPKN and completed 161,000
course events.
CPKN currently offered 67 courses (30 of which were offered in both French and English) to its
registered police users. Of these courses, 39 had been developed in-house, 17 had been developed by
police organizations such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and 11 had been developed by
third-party non-police organizations, such as the Alzheimer Society of Canada. Courses covered a wide
range of topics, such as gang dynamics, basic investigation skills and recognizing emotionally disturbed
persons. All courses were delivered through CPKN’s secure LMS via its website. (For a list of all courses
offered by CPKN, see Exhibit 1). In addition to learner authentication (which prevented sensitive course
material from entering the public domain), the system provided learner tracking and reporting and could
synchronize training records with organizations’ existing human resources (HR) systems. CPKN also
offered a range of services, including technical support, designated portals, custom design and
development, and consulting.
Technical Support
CPKN’s bilingual support specialists were available by either phone or email to provide learners with
technical support. This service was available on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Eastern Standard Time
Designated Portals
Currently, CPKN itself had two specific general access portals: the “Sworn Officer” portal and the “Law
Enforcement Community” portal. Because each portal had separate user groups, rules and libraries of
courses available, CPKN could limit access to sensitive training content. The multi-portal functionality of
the LMS also enabled CPKN to create uniquely branded sections, or portals, for specific police services
or organizations. A designated portal enabled an organization to experience the advantages of an LMS
(tracking, reporting and user management) at a significantly lower cost than implementing an independent
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internal LMS. CPKN currently hosted designated portals for eight police services. For example, the
Toronto Police Service (TPS) had its own portal on CPKN’s LMS, which hosted both CPKN and internal
TPS training courses. This portal was accessible only to TPS members and was branded with the TPS
logo and service colours.
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Custom Design and Development
Although custom courseware development was not part of CPKN’s core business, it represented potential
avenues for increased revenues. Using highly defined and replicable development processes, CPKN could
either design and develop a full course or customize an existing course to meet the needs of a specific
organization. However, CPKN had a limited capacity to take on custom development and typically did so
mainly to drive adoption of e-learning in specific markets and, subsequently, to increase future purchases
of its catalogue courseware. In a recent example of custom design and development, INTERPOL
commissioned CPKN to repurpose one of its courses to meet the organization’s specific needs. The
success of this agreement led to a multi-year contract whereby CPKN would develop and deliver 10
custom courses for INTERPOL employees.
CPKN was also available to consult with organizations on a wide variety of online training issues,
including infrastructure requirements, program integration, knowledge management and needs
assessments. Similar to custom design and development, consulting represented a potential avenue for
increased revenues but was not considered part of CPKN’s core business. The primary purpose of
consulting was to drive adoption of e-learning in specific markets and, subsequently, to increase future
purchases of CPKN’s catalogue courseware.
CPKN was governed by a volunteer board of directors that established strategic priorities (see next
section) and oversaw the management of the organization. Currently, CPKN had 14 board members who
were primarily senior-level policing professionals from police services and training institutions across
Canada. Board members were also instrumental in promoting CPKN within their respective organizations
and among their peers.
CPKN also relied on the expertise, advice and guidance of a National Advisory Group that provided input
on an operational level. The National Advisory Group comprised volunteer members representing various
police and law enforcement organizations across Canada. This group had been instrumental in identifying
both trends within the police training community and areas of research that needed to be explored to
further meet CPKN’s organizational objectives.
Strategic Priorities
To be an integral and valued training and learning partner for Canadian and international
law enforcement agencies and related public safety organizations.
— CPKN Vision Statement
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