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student engaged in Virtual LearningThe University of Windsor will receive $1.5 million in grants through the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities’ Virtual Learning Strategy.

Projects to promote digital learning receive provincial support

The University of Windsor has been awarded almost $1.5 million for 19 projects under the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities’ new Virtual Learning Strategy (VLS) grants.

The province is investing $50 million in the program to drive growth in online and hybrid learning across the province. Facilitated through eCampus Ontario, the new strategy is built on the principles of collaborative, learner-driven, and digital-by-design education. A total of 394 projects aimed at creating digital content, building digital capacity, supporting digital delivery, and enhancing digital fluency were funded across colleges and universities.

All final products of these projects will be openly licensed and available for re-use or adaptation in Ontario through the eCampus Ontario open library.

“This means that we don’t benefit just from what is created here at UWindsor, but from everything that is created across all projects in the province,” says Nick Baker, director of the Office of Open Learning.

Baker notes that despite a very short deadline to turn around applications, and the ongoing pandemic, the campus showed significant interest in exploring the potential of virtual learning through the VLS funding, with more than 50 applications submitted.

“As folks have settled into online teaching and learning, we’re seeing a lot of instructors who are significantly re-thinking their approaches to teaching in ways that start to address gaps made evident by the pandemic,” adds learning specialist Ashlyne O’Neil.

Among these gaps is equitable access to resources, as well as accessibility, diversity, and inclusion within all aspects of higher education. A key goal of the Virtual Learning Strategy was to facilitate collaboration across institutions and sectors, and UWindsor is a partner institution on 13 additional projects across the province, many of which aim to make sector-wide change in the provision of education.

The Office of Open Learning plans a series of articles in DailyNews in coming weeks featuring the successful projects, their collaborators, and the work these teams will contribute in the context of these new ways of learning and teaching. Articles will highlight the innovative and accessible work being done across campus in partnership with institutions across the province. More information about these projects can be found on the OOL website or by contacting openlearning@uwindsor.ca.

OOL also holds a monthly Community of Practice, open to the whole campus community, at which many of the grant recipients have been sharing highlights of their work.

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