Humanizing learning the focus of new program offered by Office of Open Learning

The Office of Open Learning is launching the first course in its new “Humanising Online Learning” program on Oct. 27. Partially developed through research funded by eCampus Ontario on humanizing and liberating learners, the program aims to support student engagement in online spaces through a focus on equity and inclusion.

The inaugural four-week introductory course, An Introduction to Humanising Online Learning, will serve as an overview of the program, and will introduce foundational concepts about online learning.

“Before the pandemic, we were introducing people to digital spaces.,” says course co-leader Dave Cormier. “During the pandemic, we were doing rapid response. This course is about thinking ahead to what our classrooms can be.”

The Humanising Online Learning program was developed partially in response to the experience of faculty and students during the pandemic as a means of solidifying and extending the learning that resulted from these global experiences. It further aims to support the development of new ways of thinking about teaching and learning in a post-pandemic environment, with greater awareness of the need for flexibility, care, and compassion to help diverse learners succeed.

“I am most excited about facilitating reflective exercises about our pedagogical assumptions and historical teaching practices,” says Ashlyne O’Neil, who will be co-leading the course with Cormier. “What does success mean for you and your students? What implications does that have for your diverse online classroom?”

This theme will be introduced in the first course, and re-appear throughout the program.

The program consists of six four-week online courses that will both showcase the diversity of possible approaches to online teaching and explore opportunities that arise from online and technology-enabled course designs to transform learning and prepare students for a world that is globally connected, information abundant, and uncertain.

The Humanising Online Learning courses will be facilitated in the University’s new Brightspace learning management system, so participants will also have the opportunity to experience the system as a student and gain insight into how the new tools can facilitate different approaches to online learning. Brightspace offers new opportunities for faculty and students to help support their teaching and learning goals and simplify their administrative challenges.

“There are many resources and courses that have been developed to teach people how to design online courses, but the Humanising Online Learning program is unique in its focus on the human experience of learning and teaching in digital spaces,” says Nick Baker, director of the Office of Open Learning.

“We’re aiming to help people look beyond the mechanical functions of the technology to really see the transformative potential that digital learning offers for so many learners, all of whom will need to have high levels of digital literacy and competency to succeed in today’s world.”

Register for Introduction to Humanising Online Learning on the Office of Open Learning workshop database: For more information on the Humanising Learning Program, contact Cormier at