The IT@UofT 2022 Conference will offer many opportunities to learn and network with the tri-campus IT@UofT community, including keynote presentations, breakout sessions, virtual exhibitors and more.

The expo hall, networking lounge (one-on-one networking) and connections café (group networking) will be open all day, but attendees are encouraged to visit during breaks and between sessions.

Conference within the Hopin platform.
Day 1 schedule
Day 2 schedule

May 4, 2022

Time

Location

Activity

10 – 10:25 a.m.

Main stage

Welcome and opening remarks from co-chair Anthony Betts, Director, Information & Instructional Technology Services, University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM), and Dr. Rhonda McEwen, Vice-Principal, Academic and Dean, UTM, Canada Research Chair in Tactile Interfaces, Communication and Cognition, Professor, Emerging Media

Rhonda McEwen is the vice-principal, academic and dean at UTM and a professor of emerging technology at the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology. She holds an MBA in information technology from City University in London, England, an MSc in telecommunications from the University of Colorado and a PhD in information from the University of Toronto (U of T). Professor McEwen was U of T’s first special advisor on anti-racism and equity. As a researcher, instructor and consultant of new technologies around information practices, she focuses on mobile and tablet communication, virtual reality, communicating with robots and social networks.

Professor McEwen will take up her new position as the president of Victoria University in U of T in July 2022.

10:25 – 11:25 a.m.

Main stage

Opening keynote presentation: Pushing boundaries in astrophysics: The new era of astronomy

Speaker: Dr. Heidi B. Hammel, Vice President for Science at the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) and an interdisciplinary scientist for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope

The field of astrophysics periodically experiences dramatic surges; this is one of those moments! New facilities and techniques are opening new vistas and pushing us beyond the bounds of the known into the unknown. Among the new tools are:

  • The international James Webb Space Telescope – a collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency
  • The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope – built by the National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • The Vera Rubin Observatory (coming soon) – an NSF project with international participation including engagement with U of T

New techniques include Inouye and Rubin’s large data sets and the concomitant requirements of advanced computational skills to analyze the data streams, as well as completely new “messengers” for astrophysics like gravitational waves detected by the the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). At the same time, right here on earth the new facilities and techniques drive social change within the community. Dr. Heidi Hammel will touch on these topics and more, highlighting some of the most exciting new discoveries in the cosmos.

Dr. Heidi B. Hammel, Vice President for Science at the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) and an interdisciplinary scientist for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, will give an opening keynote address on May 4. As a planetary astronomer, she has studied our solar system’s outer planets and their rings and moons with the Gemini, Hubble, Keck, Spitzer and other telescopes.

Profile image of Dr. Heidi Hammel

11:25 – 11:35 a.m.

Coffee break

Expo hall

Sponsor exhibition

Networking lounge

Networking

Breakout session

Connections café

11:35 a.m. – 12:05 p.m.

Breakout sessions: Round 1

Breakout session

Collaboration on casters: The audio visual (AV) cart conundrum

Speaker: Damion Renner, Service and Technology Delivery Lead, Faculty of Arts & Science, Information and Instructional Technology

This presentation will cover the development of an AV cart for hybrid teaching and collaboration, which required the integration of multiple features of a traditional classroom, plus additional interactive features. The talk will focus on the AV cart design through several iterations until landing on a favourable bring your own device (BYOD) system for both Windows and Mac users. The speaker will share the journey, experience and successful outcome of the project with the U of T community.

Breakout session

Education Pathways overview

Speakers:

  • Alexander Olson, Research Associate, Centre for Analytics and Artificial Intelligence Engineering
  • Somayeh Sadat, Co-director, Centre for Analytics and Artificial Intelligence Engineering
  • Lauren Hudak, Special Projects Officer, Office of the Vice-Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education
Over the past few years, the Centre for Analytics and Artificial Intelligence Engineering (CARTE) has facilitated a myriad of student consultations, where students highlighted the need for a more flexible way to use existing U of T resources to find relevant courses. As a result, CARTE, in collaboration with the Office of the Vice-Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education, is building two tools to assist students, faculty and staff to bridge this student need and support curriculum planning efforts. This presentation will introduce this work to a broader U of T audience and solicit feedback.

Education Pathways is comprised of two tools for two distinct audiences:

  1. Search: An intelligent search engine that helps students find pathways of relevant courses with potential for enrolment.
  2. Map: Provides a visual map of actual course pathways taken by students to assist faculty and staff in degree and program-level planning and decision-making.

The speakers will explain how the need for Education Pathways was discovered through student consultations, and how they analyzed existing U of T tools (e.g., Degree Explorer) to discover opportunities to expand and enhance current offerings. They will demonstrate their working prototype of the search and map tools using data from the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering. They will also describe the underlying technologies used and the efforts made to bring in University stakeholders to advise on this project, leading to the creation of an interdisciplinary working group to oversee the development of long-term goals. The presentation will also discuss ways to adopt and adapt these tools within other divisions.

Breakout session

Microsoft Teams external calling integration

Speaker: Will Hu, Unified Communications Support Analyst, Information Technology Services (ITS), Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions

Due to the global pandemic, Microsoft Teams quickly became the hub for U of T’s internal communications. Now that employees are gradually moving back to the office, enabling phone calling features in Microsoft Teams is the natural next step.

Microsoft Teams’ direct routing service gives users the ability to make external calls to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) within the Teams environment, offering a cost-effective alternative for external calling. The Telecommunications department is now able to provide a unified calling experience for U of T staff and faculty through Teams, an interface that they are already familiar with. Users can use Teams to place, receive and transfer calls and check voicemail by using a headset connected to a laptop or via their mobile devices.

This presentation will share experiences from users who participated in the Teams PSTN calling proof-of-concept project; what to expect at every stage of this migration process; feature differences between Teams calling and Communicator 7; and future plans to expand this service to the U of T tri-campus community.

Breakout session

One year of ServiceNow: Collaboration, frameworks and lessons learned through AskRegistrar

Speakers:

  • Cesar Mejia, Associate Registrar, Systems, Scheduling and Examinations, U of T Mississauga (UTM)
  • Michelle Kraus, Associate Registrar, Academic Standards, Financial Aid and Advising, UTM
  • Michael Gomez, Manager, Student Recruitment Communications, UTM
  • Vladimir Soloviev, Associate Registrar, Student Records, Registration and Graduation, UTM
AskRegistrar is a by-product of the COVID-19 pandemic and our operational response when the University transitioned to fully remote model. Leveraging the ServiceNow platform, processes, internal workflows and student advising models were re-imagined to meet the needs and demands of 16,000 undergraduate and graduate students and more than 60 staff members. Priorities included service quality; the ability to connect with students equitably in varying time zones; and establishing efficiencies in operations across multiple units within the Office of the Registrar.

This presentation will offer key learnings, results, lessons learned and how the platform has been adapted since August 2020. The talk will also cover additions to the suite of remote services for students, demonstrate customized dashboards for managers that feature live-data reports and more. The approach can be easily transferable to any department seeking to use ServiceNow, with a focus on optimizing quality, productivity and impact.

AskRegistrar was awarded the Canadian Association of University Business Officers National Prize for Quality and Productivity (June 2021) and the U of T Excellence through Innovation Award (December 2021).

Breakout session

Real-time data streaming for curriculum management

Speakers:

  • Frank Boshoff, Assistant Director, Technical Solutions & Architecture, Enterprise Applications and Solutions Integration (EASI)
  • David Wang, Data Solution Architect, Technical Solutions & Architecture, EASI
  • James Lahey, JavaScript Developer, DevOps, EASI
EASI has implemented the real-time ingestion of streaming data from an Amazon (AWS) Kinesis feed to synchronize curriculum data between two cloud databases. This presentation will cover how the methods and components used can be applied to other situations requiring real-time data ingestion from a source to a target.

Breakout session

UTORMFA: Past, present and future

Speakers:

  • Matt Wilks, Senior Identity and Access Management Architect, Information Security
  • Haniyeh Yousofpourfard, Senior Project Manager, Information Security
Many U of T community members will have heard about the rollout of multi-factor authentication (MFA) at U of T.  As we approach the second year of this project, staff and faculty are invited to attend this session for an update about the progress and next steps. The speakers will show some of the tools and talk about lessons learned over the course of the past two years.

12:05 – 12:50 p.m.

Lunch break

Expo hall

Sponsor exhibition

Networking lounge

Networking

Breakout session

Connections café

12:50 – 1:20 p.m.

Main stage

Live music

To celebrate May the Fourth, the University of Toronto (U of T) Faculty of Music will perform a selection of music from popular science-fiction (sci-fi) soundtracks, including Star Wars, The Matrix, Star Trek and more.

May the Fourth logo

1:20 – 1:50 p.m.

Breakout sessions: Round 2

Breakout session

Breaking barriers on the road to data culture

Speakers:

  • Isidora Petrovic, Senior Research Information Analyst, Research Analytics, Office of the Vice-President, Research & Innovation
  • Christine Beckermann, Business Intelligence Analyst, Research Analytics, Office of the Vice-President, Research & Innovation
Data culture cannot be bought. It must be built through collaboration, transparency, accessibility and leadership acceptance. Two years ago, the Division of the Vice-President, Research & Innovation (VPRI) launched a suite of dashboards to divisional users across U of T, enabling self-service data analysis for data-informed decision-making. They were on track to expand access to departments when challenges arose and forced them to rethink the approach to building a data-driven culture. Along the road fraught with obstacles, they managed to overcome the barriers by building trust through collaboration.

The session will explore how to build a truly collaborative process with a highly engaged cross-functional user base; how to get approvals from multiple stakeholders including leadership; and how to overcome challenges to achieve consensus in data democratization.

The speakers will showcase the key pillars, such as:

  • Data integration – breaking down data silos by supporting the creation of a single enterprise destination for high-quality, secure and trusted data
  • Data accessibility – giving access to data that enables users to find relevant information in time for critical decision-making
  • Data governance – standardizing policies and processes to ensure the right people have access to the right data at the right time
  • Data literacy – educating users to have the ability to interpret and analyze data accurately

As Bernard Marr, the bestselling author of Big Data in Practice explains in an article he wrote for Forbes: “Data democratization means that everybody has access to data and there are no gatekeepers that create a bottleneck at the gateway to the data. The goal is to have anybody use data at any time to make decisions with no barriers to access or understanding.”

Breakout session

Learning analytics on-ramps for instructors

Speakers:

  • Will Heikoop, Coordinator, Digital Learning Innovation, ITS
  • Laurie Harrison, Director, Digital Learning Innovation, ITS
  • Lauren Hudak, Special Projects Officer, Office of the Vice-Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education
  • Alan da Silviera Fleck, Data Analyst – Learning Analytics, Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation

As a strategic priority, the Office of the Vice-Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education is working with tri-campus divisional leaders to develop a robust strategy for the use of learning analytics. The Digital Learning Innovation (DLI) portfolio is supporting two collaborative initiatives – as part of the learning analytics initiative – exploring how data from students’ interactions with Quercus can inform course (re)design, improve instructional quality and support evidence-based planning.

  1. Data-driven design: Quercus analytics (2021-22 cohort): Using Quercus data from their own courses, six instructors were selected to explore advanced course design strategies to transform the instructional and learner experience.
  2. Instructor-facing dashboards: Co-developed with a diverse tri-campus group of instructors, a set of user-friendly dashboards will be created, which can be embedded within any course to inform course design and pedagogical outcomes.

Join the DLI team for a presentation about how they are building capacity for instructor access to Quercus data to inform and transform the future use of data for understanding and improving learning at U of T. The session will end with a round table inviting participants to share divisional interests and any local project activity using course data.

By the end of the session participants will be able to:

  • Describe analytics initiatives at U of T
  • Identify current Quercus student data sources (i.e., dashboard items, activity reports) and analytics tools
  • Learn about planned new services that will support instructors in making meaning of Quercus data

Breakout session

MADE for U of T: A new community of practice for educational media developers and designers

Speaker: Inga Breede, Senior Educational Technologist, Content Production, Educational Technology Office, Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering

Design in Education (MADE), an online community of practice, was launched to bring together U of T staff members who work or have an interest in the educational media and design space. Spearheaded by the Educational Technology Office from the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering, the goal is to bring together colleagues from across faculties and campuses to share ideas and resources, discover new ways to engage an audience and troubleshoot common challenges when creating content (i.e., video, audio, web, interactive) for academic purposes.

In the constantly evolving field of media and design, it can be hard to keep up with design trends, software updates and new tech releases. In such a vast ecosystem such as U of T, it can be an added challenge to know who you can reach out to when you have a question or want to meet peers with similar interests. MADE uses a designated Microsoft Team to stay connected. Community members have shared everything from the latest must-have tool and how to use it efficiently to upcoming webinars and events and how they have been using immersive and slightly unconventional tech to engage learners. MADE also wants to see the great work that is being done across faculties, which can be shared on their Spotlight Channel. Meetings feature special talks with academic and industry professionals, which then get produced into a podcast episode for their series MADE for U of T.

Breakout session

MarkUs in the cloud: Grading data science coding assignments in Azure

Speaker: John DiMarco, IT Director, Computer Science

MarkUs is an open-source software project for grading programming/coding assignments. MarkUs was designed and written at U of T Computer Science and has been deployed on-premises for computer science courses for many years. In 2021-22, MarkUs was successfully deployed in Microsoft’s Azure cloud for new data science courses in the Faculty of Arts & Science. This lecture will describe MarkUs and its capabilities; its use for data science; Azure cloud deployment; and lessons learned for a general audience.

Breakout session

Management, instrumentation and discovery (MID) tier Enterprise Service Centre integration

Speakers:

  • Peter St. Onge, Interim Manager, Identity and Access Management Team & Senior Identity and Access Management Architect, Information Security, ITS
  • Amy Luu, Service Now System Administrator, Enterprise Applications and Solutions Integration, ITS
The ServiceNow MID server allows the Enterprise Service Center (ESC) to call specific automations (i.e., scripts, programs, etc.) on remote systems. In this talk, the speakers will share how they used the MID service to better integrate UTORGrouper with ESC to improve service levels.

Breakout session

Tech2U: Humanizing classroom technical support

Speakers:

  • Steven Bailey, Director, Learning Space Management
  • Julia Allworth, Manager, Innovation Projects, Innovation Hub

Tech2U humanizes classroom technical support to foster excellent and innovative teaching and learning in an increasingly technological classroom. Through the collaboration of Learning Space Management (LSM) and the Innovation Hub, the program provides real-time, personalized technological support for instructors through a technical support team of co-pilots and student classroom ambassadors, focusing on instructor needs.

Initially, the goal of the program was focused on removing the technological burden from instructors who were navigating an uncertain and changing learning environment with increasing technical challenges. Since its launch, it has been found that this humanized classroom technical support fosters healthy classrooms that encourage the engagement and wellbeing of students.

Responding to the changing pandemic situation and the need to increase technical support to instructors returning to campus, the Tech2U program was approved in August and launched immediately in September. Tech2U represents a shift in technical support from a room-based approach to an instructor needs-based approach and offers a human-centered solution, ensuring that appropriate technology is delivered and set up in each classroom and that instructors feel supported.

This presentation will focus on sharing key implementation details and results from the first term of the Tech2U program, what this program is and its impact supporting the educational technology and instructional community, followed by a Q&A and discussion.

1:50 – 2:00 p.m.

Break

Expo hall

Sponsor exhibition

Networking lounge

Networking

Breakout session

Connections café

2:00 – 2:30 p.m.

Breakout sessions: Round 3

Breakout session

Adventures in podcasting

Speaker: Carla DeMarco, Communications Manager, Office of the Vice-Principal Academic and Dean, UTM

This presentation will provide an overview of podcasting in academia from someone with more than five years of experience. The talk will cover what it takes to start a podcast, lessons learned and how the speaker pivoted in pandemic times.

Breakout session

AODA – Lessons learned

Speakers:

  • Chris Sabatinos, AODA Office, Division of People Strategy, Equity and Culture
  • Peter St. Onge, Interim Manager, Identity and Access Management Team & Senior Identity and Access Management Architect, Information Security, ITS
  • Paul Fardy, Network Services Authentication Specialist, ITS
  • Simon Cheng, Authentication Systems Specialist, ITS
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) regulations are now in force, and following the University’s mandate that websites will meet those requirements, this session will describe the process of making accessibility a part of everyday information work. The speakers will present overall results and lessons learned, using the University’s Weblogin service as an example.

Breakout session

Building a data ecosystem to support student academic success – student academic success initiative

Speakers:

  • Lauren Hudak, Special Projects Officer, Office of the Vice-Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education
  • Professor Susan McCahan, Vice-Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education
  • Jeffrey Waldman, Manager, Institutional Data Governance, Office of Institutional Research & Data Governance
  • Feihong Nan, Manager, Divisional Research, Analysis and Assessment, Office of the Vice-Principal Academic and Dean, UTM
  • Naureen Nizam, Associate Registrar and Director of Systems & Operations, Office of the Registrar, U of T Scarborough

The Office of the Vice-Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education is building a robust data ecosystem to support student academic success in close collaboration with tri-campus divisional senior academic and registrarial leadership and the Office of Institutional Research & Data Governance (IRDG). During this session, the speakers will present a novel, transformational initiative – the student academic success initiative – that leverages Repository of Student Information (ROSI) data to better understand the degree and program-level pathways of first-entry undergraduate students. The vision is to embed this information at key decision points, such as cyclical program review and curriculum redesign, to help shape local and institutional strategic priorities.

Core to this objective is the development of user-friendly tools, which can be employed to guide strategic divisional and unit-level decision-making and broader planning efforts. Over the past few years, a set of projects that unpack different elements have been co-developed. This talk will provide a high-level overview of the most recent and current projects:

  • Divisional retention and graduation
  • Course-level performance
  • (Subject) program admissions
  • (Subject) program retention

Strong collaborations with divisional partners are critical to the development and long-term success of this initiative. The speakers will outline the collaborative model and how the various committees work together to build the underlying data and corresponding Tableau dashboards. They will also outline how these tri-campus committees, guided by IRDG’s expertise, developed a flexible data governance model to ensure the right users have the appropriate level of access to these tools.

The talk will share an example of how these tools will support local priorities, as described by two divisional partners; highlight their divisional strategies to broaden access to these tools at the academic unit-level, including customized training; and summarize early lessons learned and facilitate a lively Q&A discussion.

Breakout session

Building secure systems with the new Center for Internet Security SecureSuite membership

Speaker: Andrew Wagg, Incident Response Architect, Information Security, ITS

The University is now a member of the Center for Internet Security (CIS), which gives all staff and faculty free access to CIS SecureSuite tools. These tools allow for easy deployment of systems hardened to the CIS benchmarks and auditing these configurations after deployment. The presenter will discuss what the CIS benchmarks are; what the CIS SecureSuite tools are and how they work; and how to access them for use in your own environment.

Breakout session

Modern desktop management for remote and hybrid work

Speakers:

  • Derek Liu, Client Support Analyst, Enterprise Architecture & Solutions Integration, ITS
  • Ian Thomas, Manager, Microsoft Cloud Architecture, Enterprise Architecture & Solutions Integration, ITS
Traditional desktop management has been built around the idea of the perimeter, where valuable assets are kept physically on the corporate network and secured by firewalls. This architecture has certain implications for IT as well as for the end user – both need to be on campus or connected to the campus network in order to get work done. EASI’s Digital Workplace has been moving away from this desktop management style.

By leveraging cloud technologies like Azure, Intune and Autopilot, the entire lifecycle of the device, such as onboarding, provisioning, configuration, maintenance and offboarding, can be managed without depending on any on-premises network infrastructure. This means leaving certain pillars of traditional desktop management technologies behind (Active Directory, Group Policy and System Centre Configuration Manager) and adopting cloud and mobile-first technologies instead. What we gain at the end of this process is the flexibility and agility to accommodate modern work, which is increasingly hybrid.

Breakout session

RBAC, EAD, AAD and other alphabet soup: How KPE does RBAC and how we plan to take it to the cloud

Speakers:

  • Aaron Lane, Network & System Administrator, Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education
  • Paul Morrison, Director of Information Technology, Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education
Learn how the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education (KPE) has integrated helpdesk, Enterprise Active Directory (EAD) and their own AD domain to provide role-based access control (RBAC), simplify management and maintenance and improve security and consistency. The speakers will also discuss future plans to leverage local RBAC in AD to control access to SharePoint, Teams, email accounts and just about anything else that uses central authentication. Participants will learn about how EAD wasn’t such a bad idea after all, and other good news from a division like you.

  • Why they don’t let users control their own permissions
  • How they handle single employees with 11 simultaneous jobs
  • A review of accounts, global groups, domain local groups and permissions (AGDLP) to organize AD resources
  • How they put user account management down to less than five minutes a day

2:30 – 2:40 p.m.

Break

Expo hall

Sponsor exhibition

Networking lounge

Networking

Breakout session

Connections café

2:40 – 3:10 p.m.

Main stage

IT@UofT trivia

Brush up on your space facts and sci-fi knowledge for a game of trivia. Participants will have a chance to win one of four gift cards to the U of T Bookstore.

Hint: trivia topics will include our solar system and popular sci-fi films and novels. May the Fourth be with you!

May the Fourth logo

May 5, 2022

Time

Location

Activity

10 – 10:05 a.m.

Main stage

Welcome from conference co-chair Marden Paul, Director Planning Governance Assessment, Office of the Chief Information Officer

10:05 – 10:30 a.m.

Main stage

Opening keynote presentation:
Being me: A fireside chat with Rola Dagher

Speaker: Rola Dagher, Global Channel Chief, Dell Technologies

Join Marden Paul, IT@UofT 2022 Conference co-chair and Director, Planning Governance Assessment, as he discusses the journey that Rola Dagher has taken over the past two decades. Learn how she went from selling IT equipment to the U of T to leading a $59 billion tech company. Dagher is a determined and resilient leader eager to share her story with the IT@UofT community.
Over her career of more than two decades, Rola Dagher, Global Channel Chief, Dell Technologies, has worked with some of the brightest minds in the technology industry while honing her natural leadership style. After leading as President of Cisco Canada for three years, Dagher returned to Dell Technologies in 2020. Prior to this, she held various sales leadership roles at Dell and Bell Canada.

Her commitment to empowering women is shown through her recognition as one of the 2020 Top 25 Women of Influence. Dagher was also recognized by Women’s Executive Network as one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 and by Women in Communications and Technology as the 2019 Woman of the Year. She was named the 2021 Executive of the Year by LebNet and was selected as one of RBC’s Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award winners for 2019. She was named the “Lady of the Cedar” by the Lebanese Embassy and received a 2018 Leadership Award from the Lebanese Chamber Business of Commerce.

Dagher is a co-founder of the BlackNorth Initiative and an active member of the 30% Club advisory board, where she supports Catalyst’s work to accelerate progress for women in the workplace. She also sits on the Circle of Champions for the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council, promoting growth through diversity in the workplace.

Rola Dagher

10:30 – 10:40 a.m.

Main stage

Mindfulness and breathwork with Vikram Chadalawada, Assistant Director, Student Information Systems, Enterprise Applications and Solutions Integration

Vikram Chadalawada doing a yoga pose.

10:40 – 11:10 a.m.

Breakout sessions: Round 1

Breakout session

Calling all data enthusiasts! Supporting our data and analytics community

Speakers:

  • Kiren Handa, Executive Director, Institutional Research and Data Governance
  • Sinisa Markovic, Deputy University Registrar & Director, Operations, Enrolment Services
  • Feihong Nan, Manager, Divisional Research, Analysis and Assessment, Office of the Vice-Principal Academic and Dean, UTM
  • Jeff Waldman, Manager, Institutional Data Governance, Institutional Research and Data Governance
  • Lauren Hudak, Special Projects Officer, Office of the Vice-Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education

U of T launched its inaugural Institutional Data Strategy (IDS) in 2021. One of the five strategic goals of the IDS is focused on engaging and empowering our community, through the provision of tools, training and collaboration opportunities to actively contribute to data-informed decision-making.

This session will provide the community with an overview and demonstration of the key initiatives underway. These include:

  1. A central data community website that will:
    • Become a “go to” information and resource hub for data analysts
    • Provide a communication channel to update the community on existing and upcoming initiatives
    • Improve transparency of available institutional data, including our new data catalogue
  2. Curated training recommended by community members with a focus on:
    • Conveying insights
    • U of T’s data assets
    • Analytical methods
    • Data and analytics tools
    • Data visualization
    • Best practices and guidelines (i.e., data governance)
  3. An in-person event with the purpose of:
    • Sharing institutional updates related to data and analytics at U of T
    • Showcasing exemplar projects
    • Hearing from thought leaders on key trends and best practices
    • Enabling networking and peer relationship building

This plan is driven and supported by the needs of our community; they are equal partners in the co-development of proposed and future initiatives. The evolution of the plan will depend on the community’s contribution and participation in these initiatives. As such, opportunities for volunteers and support will be highlighted at this session.

Breakout session

Growing pains during COVID: A Jupyterhub story

Speaker: Brian Novogradac, Senior Systems Administrator, UTM Information and Instructional Technology Services

With the ongoing remote work and uncertainty with the return to campus during COVID, more focus was put on continuing to offer remote teaching tools for faculty. As the Jupyterhub offering got more attention as the pandemic took hold, we needed to accommodate for growth of this service. This is a short story on how the infrastructure was adjusted to meet the demand of this popular service.

Breakout session

Next generation exam delivery for U of T

Speakers:

  • Avi Hyman, Academic Technology Strategist, Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation
  • Dimitris Keramidas, Director, IT, Faculty of Medicine
  • James Fiege, Director, Information and Instructional Technology Services, Faculty of Dentistry
  • Adon Irani, Manager, Educational Innovation & Academic Initiatives, U of T Scarborough
Next year, the University’s current agreement for a high-stakes computer-based and online secure exam delivery system expires, and we will have to go back out to market to select our next generation solution.

Please join this session for a round table discussion on the University’s requirements for exam delivery. Rather than a presentation, this session will be used for an in-depth conversation about functional and technical requirements, student access and most importantly, pedagogical requirements.

Breakout session

Teaching feedback services: An adaptive and responsive approach to individualized faculty support

Speakers:

  • Justin Fletcher, Faculty Liaison Coordinator, Teaching, Learning and Technology, Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation (CTSI)/Academic and Collaborative Technologies (ACT), ITS
  • Cora McCloy, Faculty Liaison Coordinator, Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, CTSI

Individualized support services such as classroom observations can support faculty in their ongoing professional teaching development (Lee, 2010).

In this session, a team of faculty liaison coordinators from CTSI and ACT will share their experience collaborating to provide responsive and individualized teaching feedback services to faculty during the COVID-19 pandemic, while ensuring that these services remain relevant as teaching gradually resumes to face-to-face and hybrid learning environments:

  • Quercus Course Reviews (QCR) provide instructors with formative feedback on how they use Quercus to support their course and teaching. In a QCR, a faculty liaison provides feedback after reviewing an instructor’s Quercus course site for a one-hour period.
  • Teaching Observations (TO) provide instructors with formative feedback on their instructional practices in a class session (face-to-face or online synchronous). In a TO, a faculty liaison provides feedback after observing one hour of synchronous or face-to-face teaching.

The speakers will describe the design, development, implementation and evaluation processes of these two services, and share future directions.

Of specific relevance to the IT@UofT community is that the frameworks for QCRs and TOs include guiding questions related to the use of educational and classroom technologies (e.g., Quercus/Academic Toolbox, Microsoft 365, Zoom) to meet instructors’ teaching and learning goals. Participants will also learn about two frameworks that informed the design of these services: “human performance technology” (Stefaniak, 2018) and the community of inquiry model (Garrison, 2009).

References

Garrison, D. R. (2009). Communities of inquiry in online learning. Encyclopedia of Distance Learning, 352-355. doi:10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch052.

Lee, V. S. (2010). Program types and prototypes. In K. J. Gillespie & D. L. Robertson (Eds.), A Guide to Faculty Development (2nd ed., pp. 21-33). John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Stefaniak, J. E. (2018). Performance technology. In R. E. West (Ed.), Foundations of Learning and Instructional Design Technology: Historical Roots, Current Trends. EdTech Books. Retrieved from  https://edtechbooks.org/lidtfoundations

Breakout session

Working together to enable research: The REB, CRIS, Information Security and IT@UofT

Speakers:

  • Sue McGlashan, Research Information Security Lead, Information Security, ITS
  • Rachel Zand, Director, Human Research Ethics
  • Vinita Haroun, Director, Centre for Research and Innovation Support

This interactive session will cover how the Research Ethics Board (REB), Centre for Research and Innovation Support (CRIS), Information Security and IT@UofT can work together to enable research on sensitive data at this great institution.

Rachel Zand will outline how the REB reviews research proposals involving the collection or use of human data:

  • What are the responsibilities of the REB?
  • What are their limitations?

Sue McGlashan will discuss the research information security program and how the program will work with the REB, CRIS and IT@UofT to enable secure research.

Vinita Haroun will review the mandate of CRIS, including their role in providing visibility and access to key resources for researchers across U of T. Vinita will discuss supporting digital research infrastructure at U of T as an example of how expertise from Information Security, REB and others will be brought together to leverage and align supports for researchers.

Join the session to discuss how we can work together to reduce the burden on our researchers of “being secure” by, for example, providing resources that are vetted for security. Bring your ideas!

11:10 – 11:20 a.m.

Coffee break

Expo hall

Sponsor exhibition

Networking lounge

Networking

Breakout session

Connections café

11:20 – 11:50 a.m.

Breakout sessions: Round 2

Breakout session

A collaborative approach to Log4Shell​

Speakers:

  • Axel Schulz, Senior Security Analyst, Canadian Shared Security Operations Centre
  • Carl Chan, Senior Security Information and Events Monitoring Administrator, ITS
In recent months, there have been several high impact vulnerabilities that Canadian universities and colleges have had to respond to, the latest being Log4Shell.

This presentation will cover how the higher education community responded together, collaborated to share threat intelligence, and synthesized the latest information related to Log4Shell to minimize noise and distractions. High-level information on some of the observed threat actors and payloads will be provided, but the focus will be on how intelligence sharing supported the community during the various stages of Log4Shell attacks.

Breakout session

Best practices for document storage in M365: What to use when

Speaker: Heather Postill, Senior Information Analyst, Enterprise Applications & Solutions Integration

An overview of OneDrive, Teams and SharePoint with recommendations on what to use and when for document management needs. This session will cover the features of each solution and tips to maximize use.

Breakout session

Can a digital campus tour replace an in-person experience?

Speaker: Michael Gomez, Manager, Student Recruitment Communications, Student Recruitment & Admissions, U of T Mississauga

Campus tours are an integral and strategic recruitment and conversion tool. In fact, 90 per cent of tour attendees state this was the reason they chose to apply and/or accept their offer of admission to U of T Mississauga. With the loss of in-person experiences at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Student Recruitment & Admissions was challenged to match and exceed the impact of their campus tour program. As students’ nuanced experiences are the heart of campus tours, they rose to the challenge by launching two new campus tour experiences powered by YouVisit and StreamYard – both inaugural projects at U of T.

In just a few short months, they deployed an immersive and accessible 360-degree campus tour experience available in English, Mandarin, Spanish and Arabic. Powered by the YouVisit platform, it features fully narrated stories with on-screen avatars and is complete with curated image and video galleries. Additionally, they developed “Discover Days” guided campus tour livestreams and Q&As powered by StreamYard and YouTube Live. Tour guides were able to connect directly with prospective students and their families, share their unique stories with the tour framework and answer questions live.

After 20,000 YouVisit visitors and 6,000 livestream views, they are happy to share what they learned – how they developed the technologies necessary to power new experiences and workflows – all while staying ahead of schedule and within budget. Perhaps most importantly for their bottom line, what impact did their virtual tour program have on enrolment, conversion and registration and what place does it have with the return to campus?

Breakout session

DiscoverResearch – U of T’s new expertise discovery tool

Speakers:

  • Maya Collum, Project Manager, Division of the Vice-President, Research & Innovation
  • Bryan Ekeh, Business Intelligence Developer, Division of the Vice-President, Research & Innovation

At U of T, our faculty conduct research that has impacts across a broad range of disciplines – but our experts are often hard to find, especially in this virtual world!

DiscoverResearch is a new online tool to highlight, celebrate and promote all our research experts to help spark discovery, connection and collaboration.

Faculty can use this tool to:

  • Showcase their research and expertise – highlight artistic performances, compositions, podcasts, videos, etc.
  • Signal availability for media requests, graduate student supervision, industry and academic collaboration, etc. and identify other academics for collaboration opportunities.
  • Leverage automated data from trusted sources (publications, grants, awards, bio data, etc.) from TSpace, PubMed, Web of Science, Scopus, Research Information System, Human Resources Information System and more.
  • Download up-to-date CVs and activity reports and integrate with the Canadian Common CV (CCV) soon!

Divisions and academic units can use DiscoverResearch to integrate with their websites and other communications efforts, run powerful reports and promote their researchers on a global scale – and the technical integrations are unparalleled at U of T! Join this presentation and live demonstration of DiscoverResearch and bring your questions.

Breakout session

The Q continuum: Using Quercus to support new curriculum integrated enhanced technology spaces and more

Speakers:

  • Simone Laughton, Head, UTM Library & Instructional Technologies
  • Chris Alfonso, Library Technologies & Programmer Specialist, UTM Library
  • Kenneth Berry, Instructional Technologies Support Specialist, UTM Library
  • Angie Cappiello, Instructional Technologies Support Specialist, UTM Library
  • Mike Serafin, Library Technologies & Liaison Librarian, UTM Library
Working together with faculty, students and staff, and in collaboration with other departments and units, UTM Library & Instructional Technologies helps to further UTM’s teaching and learning mission through instructional technologies such as Quercus. Far from omniscient or omnipotent, and definitely quirky, this session will explore the diverse ways that UTM Library & Instructional Technologies are using Quercus to support two new library technology integrated, curriculum-focused spaces. The Outer Circle Recording Studio invites all comers to a new virtual plane of existence, where faculty, students and staff can create audio and video masterpieces. The Digital Exploration Lab provides faculty and students with an opportunity to explore 3D digital printing and to dabble in the alteration of matter and energy through augmented and virtual reality experiences.

With its unique affordances, Quercus is a tool that has many features to support learning initiatives that are academic and co-curricular. Providing a continuum of various approaches, we assist units that have been facing unprecedented challenges prior to and during the pandemic. The spectrum of approaches include orientation, student services, accessibility training, communication with students and more. The approach varies depending on the context of the end users and must meet specific criteria. The speakers will review the supports needed, and the challenges and issues that have arisen and how they addressed them.

11:50 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Main stage

IT@UofT trivia

Get ready to test your knowledge on IT history at U of T. Participants will have a chance to win one of four gift cards to the U of T Bookstore. Trivia questions provided by the IT@UofT Programming Committee and the Department of Computer Science.

A collage of the word, TRIVIA.

12:15 – 1:00 p.m.

Lunch break

Expo hall

Sponsor exhibition

Networking lounge

Networking

Breakout session

Connections café

12:55 – 1:40 p.m.

Main stage

Panel presentation:
Single department faculties. Smaller, not (always) simpler.

Speakers: Adam Trent, Director of Information and Learning Technology, Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy; Paul Morrison, Director of IT and Multimedia, Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education; Sebastian Bisciglia, Director of Information and Learning Technology, Faculty of Music
Moderator: Bo Wandschneider, Chief Information Officer (CIO)

Join the CIO in a dialogue with three IT leaders from the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education, the Faculty of Music and the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy. The panel will explore the skills they bring to the table, the focus of their units, the unique challenges faced by these diverse divisions, how they have dealt with the pandemic and what is coming down the road.

Sebastian Bisciglia

Sebastian Bisciglia is the director of Information and Learning Technology at U of T Faculty of Music. Bisciglia has worked as an information technology professional in higher education since 2014, when he joined Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music as a music instructional technology developer. In 2017, he came to U of T’s Faculty of Music as its first in-house educational technology specialist and established himself as an IT leader within the Faculty of Music community — in no small part thanks to the COVID-19 pivot in 2020. Trained as a music theorist with a PhD from Eastman School of Music, Bisciglia has spent the last 21 years in a post-secondary music setting and feels fortunate that his job combines at least two of his passions.

Paul Morrison

Paul Morrison has been the director of Information Technology at the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education since 2012. In this role, he oversees a traditional IT group in addition to a busy instructional design operation, recreation software services across three campuses and the group that broadcasts 64 Varsity Blues games annually. A U of T lifer, Morrison is twice a graduate of the University from the Faculty of Arts & Science and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, and he is an active member of the IT@UofT community. Morrison comes from Northern Ontario originally, and when not working on IT he spends time in the kitchen, on a campground, in the glassblowing shop or on his bike.

Adam Trent

Adam Trent is the director of Information and Learning Technology at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy. He previously worked at York University, where he was the director of the Education Resource Centre and Information Technology at the Faculty of Education. Trent holds numerous designations in IT, project management and supply chain management. He earned his MBA with a focus on innovation and technology management while working with start-ups in medical sciences and food and beverage industries. He is most proud of establishing an Indigenous teacher education space in collaboration with the Toronto District School Board, York University, Indigenous educators and leaders and donors.

Bo Wandschneider

Bo Wandschneider became the CIO at U of T on May 1, 2017. A respected IT veteran, Wandschneider has spent 30 years in higher education information technology, first at the University of Guelph and more recently as CIO and the associate vice-principal of Information Technology at Queen’s University. His early years included a decade in an academic unit where he was embedded in the research enterprise and actively engaged in teaching and learning. These experiences have allowed him to develop a deep appreciation and understanding of the needs of the academic community.

During his career, Wandschneider has been through two institution-wide email migrations, introduced an Administrative Systems Steering Committee to oversee the prioritization of enterprise administrative projects and developed the ITS Strategic Plan. A truly collaborative leader, he is well known across Canada for the breadth and depth of his knowledge, his desire to build partnerships and his openness and willingness to share information and expertise with colleagues and staff.

Panelists and moderator for the panel presentation

1 – 1:30 p.m.

Breakout sessions: Round 3

Breakout session

Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap): An overview and use case

Speakers:

  • Prisca Obierefu, Research Technology Liaison, Centre for Research and Innovation Support (CRIS)
  • Anna Mozharova, Systems and Projects Coordinator, Registrar’s Office and Student Experience, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
Research tools and technologies that facilitate online data collection are essential in the context of recent pandemic restrictions. REDCap is a free and secure web application that can be used to build and manage online surveys and databases. While REDCap can be used to collect virtually any type of data, it is specifically built to support online or offline data capture for research studies.

To continue the support the University’s mission for innovation research, the University adopted REDCap in 2019. The CRIS, through a partnership with the Academic and Collaborative Technologies, developed a suite of REDCap resources including: getting started with REDCap; REDCap basic features; REDCap office hours; and additional REDCap resources.

This presentation will provide an overview of the REDCap instance at the University, the REDCap resources available and specific REDCap use case. Specifically, the presentation will cover:

  • What is REDCap?
  • Some key features of REDCap
  • How to get access to REDCap
  • REDCap training resources and support available at the University
  • A demonstration of a use case for REDCap

Breakout session

Adventures in the Information Security IAM help desk

Speaker:

  • Peter St. Onge, Interim Manager, Identity and Access Management (IAM) Team & Senior Identity and Access Management Architect, Information Security, ITS
  • Liwei Liao, Junior Identity and Access Management Analyst, IAM Team, Information Security, ITS
  • Mary Kwan, Junior Information Security Analysis, Identity and Access Management, Information Security, ITS
  • Guru Prasad Kurumbal Mohan, Junior Information Security Analysis, Identity and Access Management, Information Security, ITS
  • Gongen Zhong, Identity and Access Management, Information Security, ITS
The IAM team in the Information Security department within ITS provides IAM services for approximately 250,000 active users at the University of Toronto. Providing services in a timely and effective manner is IAM’s priority. This presentation will focus on how the IAM team uses Enterprise Service Centre to triage, resolve and escalate day-to-day and exceptional requests.

Breakout session

Using Quercus data to cultivate better learner experiences – U of T’s learning analytics initiative

Speakers:

  • Professor Alison Gibbs, Director, Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation (CTSI) and Professor, Teaching Stream, Department of Statistical Sciences
  • Lauren Hudak, Special Projects Officer, Office of the Vice-Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education
  • Marco Di Vittorio, Manager, Academic & Collaborative Technologies (ACT), ITS
  • Dr. Alan Fleck, Data Analyst – Learning Analytics, CTSI

The Office of the Vice-Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education, in collaboration with tri-campus divisional academic leadership, CTSI, ACT and the Office of Institutional Research & Data Governance, is building a robust data ecosystem to support student academic success. This session will present a transformational institutional initiative – the learning analytics initiative – that leverages course-level data from the Quercus learning management system.

The speakers will provide a high-level overview of five initiative projects, which were approved by their Leadership Committee and include:

  1. Quercus Record Store (QRS) development: The QRS will be a repository for Quercus data, offering the capacity for advanced learning analytics and data-driven applications (e.g., dashboards).
  2. Informing program design through course data: One department will be identified to pilot the use of Quercus data to inform program-level priorities and planning.
  3. Instructor-facing dashboards: Co-developed with diverse tri-campus instructors, a set of user-friendly dashboards will be created, which can be embedded within any course to inform course design and pedagogical outcomes.
  4. Data-driven design: Quercus analytics (2021-22 cohort): Using Quercus data from their own courses, six instructors were selected to explore advanced course design strategies to transform the instructional and learner experience.
  5. Revised student Notice of Collection (NoC): As part of a broader Office of Institutional Research & Data Governance/Freedom of Information & Protection of Privacy initiative, the existing NoC is being modernized to include how Quercus data are collected and used to support pedagogical outcomes.

The speakers will describe how they are co-designing this initiative with tri-campus partners and a cross-functional learning analytics project team. Building each priority project requires a collective effort and diverse range of input and expertise from various offices, from data infrastructure considerations to deeply understanding instructor needs. This session will also summarize early lessons learned and facilitate a lively Q&A discussion.

1:30 – 1:40 p.m.

Break

Expo hall

Sponsor exhibition

Networking lounge

Networking

Breakout session

Connections café

1:40 – 2:10 p.m.

Breakout sessions: Round 4

Breakout session

Better together: How IT and non-IT staff can enable effective collaboration

Speakers:

  • Aaron Lane, Network and System Administrator, Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education
  • Samantha Barr, Senior Development Officer, Leadership and Planned Giving, U of T Scarborough

Too often, IT resources are expended on determining solutions without involvement from the faculty and staff who will be tasked with using these resources. Conversely, non-IT staff undertake projects counting on IT to have all the answers! Aaron Lane and Samantha Barr represent both sides of the IT/non-IT divide and want to demonstrate how staff from both sides can work together.

In this presentation, Aaron will share examples from his work in IT such as identity management, information security and Office 365 to demonstrate what can be accomplished by effective collaboration. Aaron will also discuss strategies he’s used to build trust with clients. Samantha will represent the non-IT perspective on how staff can empower themselves to enable decision making and self-service. She will also share learnings from the Master of Information program and how they can be applied to U of T projects. This presentation will incorporate examples of resources (both within and outside the University) that staff can take advantage of when embarking on IT projects that will help lead to a successful outcome.

Breakout session

Connecting DAI-IRSA to the real world: How does it help against ransomware?

Speakers:

  • Jeff Waldman, Manager Institutional Data Governance, Planning & Budget
  • Sue McGlashan, Research Information Security Lead, Information Security, ITS
The Data Asset Inventory & Information Risk Self-Assessment (DAI-IRSA) is an institution-wide program that helps units with their information risk and data governance programs while providing a broad understanding of shared challenges across the University. The annual completion and review of the program satisfies the policy on information security and the protection of digital assets.

Many have completed the assessment and created risk management plans. How else does the DAI-IRSA help? Join this session to learn about how the assessment helps you reduce your ransomware risk, as well as some of the trends identified about our collective risk posture and what we – as a community – are doing to build trustworthy and resilient online spaces.

For those who have never taken part, the program is made up of two parts:

  • The IRSA is a series of survey questions in a ‘capability model’ format that examines the physical and administrative information protection measures in the unit.
  • The DAI is a means to identify and define critical data. This provides valuable context for the information risk self-assessment and plays a key role to prioritize improvements in data management practices.

Breakout session

Electronic signatures and Enterprise DocuSign: A new opportunity for process improvement

Speakers:

  • Mobolaji MJ Edun, Services Engagement Coordinator, Enterprise Applications & Solutions Integration (EASI)
  • Heather Postill, Senior Information Analyst, EASI

Working remotely has changed the way we do business. With fewer people in the office or meeting face-to-face, obtaining wet signatures on documents has become increasingly complicated, but navigating digital options can be overwhelming and confusing. In 2020, an ITS working group was established to research and help demystify electronic signatures for U of T.

What is an electronic signature? When do you need one? This session will introduce the launched eSignature Competency Centre, a resource portal providing information and guidance on electronic signatures. The speakers will also showcase the EASI-led Enterprise DocuSign pilot, a secure and robust solution for completing contracts, approvals and agreements in minutes rather than days.

Breakout session

Micro credentials: The landscape at U of T and beyond

Speakers:

  • Laurie Harrison, Director, Digital Learning Innovation, ITS
  • Daniella Mallinick, Director, Academic Programs, Planning and Quality Assurance, Office of Vice-Provost, Academic Programs
This session will provide insight into the post-secondary sector’s rising interest in short, skills-focused courses known as “micro credentials,” reflecting a global trend and changing learning landscape. The pandemic has also accelerated the provincial investment in this strategy, with micro credentials becoming a core component of COVID-19 recovery plans of the Ontario government and emerging as a targeted deliverable for their funding initiatives.

U of T has responded to this changing landscape with exploration of our current capacity and future opportunities, including coordination of efforts to support micro-credential programming and align with our strategic goals. Expanding on our degree and certificate programs, these new short courses may meet student needs for development and verification of applied skills and knowledge, typically with a workplace focus.

Successful growth of micro credential offerings will demand attention to the program planning, new workflows and infrastructure required for success. This includes market analysis, academic program governance, community partnerships, curriculum mapping processes, digital content development, registration and financial tracking, program delivery support and digital badging platforms.

Join this session for an overview of the rising provincial investment in micro credentials, related new developments within U of T and the emergent implications for the information technology professionals. The session will end with a round table inviting participants to share divisional interests and any local project activity related to micro credentials.

Breakout session

Resilient reporting solutions

Speaker: Fatema Khan, Data Analyst, Rotman School of Management

During the pandemic, the Rotman School of Management went through a massive change in its data reporting needs. The staff at Rotman faced various issues arising from this change, and they resiliently developed solutions and adapted their culture and reporting solutions to meet their needs.

The Rotman School of Management has expanded its reporting and analytics nine-fold during the pandemic. Before the pandemic the program mainly reported on the full-time MBA program, and during the pandemic it started reporting on the eight other programs within the department. This called for more data governance frameworks, clarity in data roles and innovative reporting solutions. To solve these issues, Fatema Khan introduced two new platforms: SharePoint and Tableau Server.

This presentation will cover how Fatema planned to tackle data governance and reporting issues arising from an increase in reporting by using tools like SharePoint and Tableau Server. It will take the audience through the process that is being implemented; the tools used (SharePoint and Tableau Server); the people involved (data analyst, operations, IT); the challenges that arise; and ways to mitigate those challenges. It will demonstrate the change that the department went through and the resilience that had to be met with this change to adapt to the new needs of the program.

2:10 – 2:20 p.m.

Break

Expo hall

Sponsor exhibition

Networking lounge

Networking

Breakout session

Connections café

2:20 – 3:20 p.m.

Main stage

Closing keynote presentation:
We can rebuild it better! But first, a hug (of a sort)

Speaker: Dr. Steve Joordens, professor of psychology at U of T Scarborough, Director of the Advanced Learning Technologies Lab

I was a child when a TV show called The Six Million Dollar Man came out. It was a story of a well-loved astronaut who experienced a horrible accident that all but killed him. The famous line from the introduction of the show is: “We can rebuild him, make him even better than he was before! Stonger! Faster!” And they do, grafting together the traditional part of him (his remaining body) with technology (bionic limbs) to create the first bionic man!

Our traditional approach to education was also all but killed by COVID. Along the way, many educators experienced digital approaches to learning that they had never closely interacted with before — potential bionic limbs of education as it were. As we emerge from the pandemic, many of us envision this as a great opportunity to build back an education system that is better than before with a mix of digital and human approaches to education that maximize synergies to create a more powerful approach to learning.

I am one of those calling for innovation in education, yet I am also one who understands that most people within our education systems are not currently up for the challenge. The chronic stress of COVID has us all exhausted, with many feeling completely burnt out. Yes, we want to rebuild, but I will argue that the first thing we want to build is a community that is more connected, more resilient, and one that understands our fragile mental states and brings us the empowerment we need to be true positive change makers.

Dr. Steve Joordens, a professor of psychology at U of T Scarborough (UTSC), was initially trained as a cognitive psychologist with expertise in human memory. As director of the Advanced Learning Technologies Lab at UTSC, his research has shifted to focus on the most effective use of educational technologies, particularly the formal development of transversal skills. One of the technologies to come from this lab, peerScholar, is used in more than eight countries and is increasingly used as an institutional solution for skill development in Canada and beyond. Dr. Joordens has won several awards at the institutional, provincial and national levels in recognition of his teaching innovations. In 2015, he was named a 3M Teaching Fellow for his significant and sustained impact on higher education in Canada.

Steve Joordens

3:20 – 3:30 p.m.

Main stage

Closing remarks by Bo Wandschneider, CIO

3:35 – 5:00 p.m.

Unconference (join the Teams group by 3:30 p.m. on May 5 to attend)