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eCampusOntario Virtual Learning Strategy Projects for UWindsor

  (Photo via Brooke Cagle on Unsplash)

 

eCampusOntario released its call for Expressions of Interest (EOIs) on January 6, 2021 in support of the Government of Ontario’s Virtual Learning Strategy (VLS). Announced on December 11, 2020, the VLS is an historic $50 million investment by the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities (MCU) intended to drive growth and advancement in virtual learning across the province’s post-secondary institutions. The strategy will expand the possibilities of traditional and life-long learning through the accelerated use of both online and hybrid learning.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on Ontario’s postsecondary education sector as institutions rapidly transitioned to remote delivery. In close consultations with the postsecondary sector in summer 2020, the MCU heard the need for virtual learning supports to enable access to high-quality learning. These results informed the launch of the Virtual Learning Strategy.

Below are the VLS projects currently being undertaken at the University of Windsor:

Project Lead: Ali AbdulHussein

Project Grant: $74,554.66

This project will create an online, student-centered course in Data Analytics including open-licensed ancillary materials such as course syllabus, instructional material, assessment materials, and multimedia content. Data analytics is a rapidly evolving field applicable to many business, engineering,and computer science workplace contexts. The course material focuses on three key concept areas: data acquisition, data processing, and decisionmaking models. In this course, students will be able to develop advanced knowledge and skills to acquire related data for operations of business or projects; apply quantitative literacy skills such as statistics and machine learning; and use predictive or prescriptive modeling to make timely, actionable, and meaningful decisions. 

 

Project Lead: Shahpour Alirezaee

Project Grant: $89,300.00

 

The pandemic has prompted a dramatic shift not only to online learning but also towards remote experimentation. This proposal aims to develop a collaborative and practical learning environment that enables students to remotely access a physical laboratory and perform experiments. This experimental environment is extremely beneficial in many academic areas, such as engineering programs, which require both theoretical knowledge and practical training. The proposed learning environment will be used for an online robotics course as a case study.

The course will be based on passive and active learning methods. While students can passively learn from lectures and demonstrations, active learning through exercises provides them a unique opportunity to practice the theoretical concepts. After successfully implementing their codes in the ROS (Robot Operating System) simulation environment, students will remotely connect to an on-site traditional laboratory and run their code on a real robot (robotic arm,mobile robot, and quadcopter). 

Project Lead: Zareen Amtul

Project Grant: $37,638.00

Using a research-based virtual bioinformatic pedagogical approach, a set of bioinformatic activities are proposed to be incorporated into the sole protein structure and function capstone course of a highly in demand professional Master of Medical Biotechnology (MMB) program. The activities are supported by virtual laboratory bioinformatic sessions.

Students will be given hands on opportunities to watch and explore the bioinformatic-based analysis of structural biology and biomolecular data via inquiry-based scenarios structured as inquiry-based bioinformatics exercises for 5 virtual labs. The rationale is to serve as a stimulus to students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers, to get them familiarized with scientific professions in data science and the academic training required to pursue them, and notably to increase MMB students’ competencies to be able to take on the bioinformatic careers in a field where demand outweighs the supply.

Project Lead: Chris Busch

Project Grant: $74,729.69

The importance of the first-year experience is well documented, with the transition into university largely regarded as critical for success (e.g., Tinto,1999). While there are decades of research on the transition to higher education in general, the current pandemic and lack of physical connection to the university, amplify concerns about adequate preparation. The proposed transition course will integrate knowledge and services from across the institution, and provide learners with a series of learning modules offering a flexible pathway to seeking and obtaining support; thereby enhancing their confidence, self-efficacy, and self regulatory skills necessary for success. This initiative will also allow students to feel more connected to the University by providing them with opportunities to connect with peers, mentors, and support services.

Through this, students will establish a strong foundation of skills and sense-of-belonging that will contribute to their success. 

Project Lead: Frances Cachon 

Project Grant: $74,569.62

Public demands are intensifying to meaningfully address racism within postsecondary education. By cultivating shared responsibility, campus communities can recognize emerging opportunities for anti-racist pedagogical innovation and skill-building. Decades of evidence-based prevention programming against sexual violence attest to the promise of cultivating attitudinal and behavioural changes through bystander intervention (Banyard et al, 2004). Our project will use innovative e-Learning strategies to foster undergraduate students’ capacity to intervene effectively and safely (e.g., speak up, step in, or engage others) when witnessing racism. No such postsecondary course, online or face-to-face currently exists in Canada. Leveraging our team’s interdisciplinary expertise and existing evidence-based programming (Senn & Forrest, 2016) our project will include continuous evaluations of design and best practices as we meet with community stakeholders before, during, and after implementation.

Project Lead: Russell Evans  

Project Grant: $31,994.00

Digital storytelling is an important tool in Indigenous educational practices and is a vital means of knowledge transfer (Woodhouse, 2011). The following project will produce a series of digital storytelling vignettes to explain topics related to the Indigenous business environment in Canada. The videos will imbed interview content from Indigenous business leaders from across the country and they will highlight both the obstacles and successes of Indigenous professionals. The content will be made available on eCampus Ontario’s Open Library for widespread use in a variety of educational contexts. The series will explain business topics and their relation to the law, governance, self-determination, history, and culture. Adopters of these videos will gain a better understanding of how Indigenous populations interact with governments, corporations, and other non-Indigenous institutions while conducting business activities.

Project Lead:Chris Houser

Project Grant: $74,154.00

 

Funding from e-campus Ontario will support the development of a new online and adaptable course covering coastal geography and geomorphology to build capacity and increased literacy on coastal erosion and management issues in the Great Lakes region and across Canada. The adaptable course will include virtual field trips, stakeholder interviews, digital simulations and lectures recorded at representative shorelines from around the Great Lakes. The turn-key course will be available to all institutions across the Province of Ontario and can be adapted/modified based on student interest in either the physical or social aspects of coastal systems.

Project Lead:Jacqueline Lewis

Project Grant: $73,524.66

This project will develop a flipped learning university course. The deliverable includes 10 weeks of digital course content usable as a stand-alone or supplementary course package with assignments. The course combines synchronous and asynchronous elements, to reduce the amount of time students are required to be in the synchronous classes. The course materials are organized into 3 categories: Watch This; Read This; Do This. The Watch This (e.g., Ted Talk style presentations, expert interviews, death café experiences, cemetery and memorial tours; open-licensing of existing photograph and video material, etc.) and Read This (e.g., a Pressbook with scholarly publications, government and non-governmental reports, media reports, other internet content, etc.) material are completed prior to class.Students then complete the Do This activities (designed to enhance critical engagement with issues relevant to the weekly topics) via group discussions (online or in-person) during class time.

Project Lead:Jacqueline Lewis

Project Grant: $73,239.06

 

This project will develop a flipped online university course. The deliverable will include 10 weeks of digital course content usable as a stand-alone or supplemental course package. The course combines synchronous and asynchronous elements, reducing the amount of time students are required to be in the synchronous classroom environment. The course materials will be organized into 3 categories: “Watch This”; “Read This”; “Do This”. The assigned “Watch This” (e.g., Ted Talk style presentations, interviews with experts, student debates, open-access licensing of existing video material, etc.) and “Read This” (e.g., a Pressbook of scholarly publications, government and non-governmental reports, media reports, other internet content, etc.) material are completed prior to class time. Students then complete the “Do This” activities (designed to enhance critical engagement with issues relevant to the weekly topics) via face-to-face group discussions (online or in-person) during class time.

Project Lead:Victoria Abboud

Project Grant: $18,131.00

As a new OER, “Emerging Technologies and Professional Adaptability” will support learners to engage with emerging technologies (e.g., blockchain, cloud computing, etc.) while building professional skills in communication, problemsolving, and critical thinking. Initially, the OER will serve as the e-resource for international students progressing through the Master of Applied Computing program at the University of Windsor. However, the content can be used by educators, practitioners, and students in technology-focused disciplines while also meeting needs in other fields such as communications and business. Given the difficulty of securing one resource that adapts to the pace of change in emerging technologies, this OER can be adjusted consistently as topics shift. Further, the OER will help prepare international learners for Canadian work environments while filling a gap at the intersection of technology, communication, and skill-building.

Project Lead:Selinda Berg/ Scott Cowan

Project Grant: $15,000.00

The LGBTQ+ community is diverse. While L, G, B, T, and Q are usually tied together as a single homogeneous entity, each letter represents a wide range of people of different races, ethnicities, ages, socioeconomic statuses and identities (National LGBT Health Education Centre, 2019). What binds them together as social, sexual, and gender minorities are common experiences of stigma and discrimination. Specifically, there is a long history of discrimination and lack of awareness of health needs by health professionals. This resource will be built in consultation with members of the LGBTQ community and aims to assist in breaking down the barriers and to help to build more inclusive environments for all.

Project Lead:Werner Keller 

Project Grant: $24,862.50

 

This project will create an open course shell and ancillary resources, including an instructor guide for a high-quality, innovative course, Business Agreements, offered to senior undergraduate Business, MBA, and Law students at the University of Windsor. This seminar course has been designed to promote learner engagement, experiential learning, and social cohesion. Students prepare for synchronous online or in-class discussions on campus through readings, minilectures, and short written reports analyzing real-world business contracts. New ancillary content, specifically an instructor guide developed using Pressbooks for adoption in the eCampus Ontario Library, will support the wider use and reuse of the course content to benefit educators and learners in Business, Law, and related disciplines.

 

Project Lead:Gina Pittman

Project Grant: $89,947.61

Simulation experiences are an excellent adjunct to clinical placements given the vast array of placement settings, and that there is often limited opportunity to perform skills taught in curriculum. Given that opioid prescribing and MAiD are relatively newly authorized acts for NPs and physicians, ensuring that NP, medical, and undergraduate nursing students feel supported and prepared for these situations is crucial. Creating virtual simulations that are open resources allows for current and future learners to be able to gain experience and knowledge in these important areas. Simulated virtual experiences mean that the learners will not be passive but will be actively engaged in the virtual learning fostering engagement and deeper learning than passive reading on the topic

Project Lead:Dr. Kara Smith

Project Grant: $215,000.00

Our aim is to create a new online, open access (CC-BY) program, a taught doctorate (EdD) in remote digital pedagogy and stewardship with three eCampusOntario member collaborators: the Faculty of Education and the Centre for Teaching and Learning, University of Windsor; the Faculty of Education, Brock University; and Aamjiwnaang First Nation with Lambton College. Collaborating with these leads will be global research partners: Lews Castle College, the University of Highlands and Islands (UHI); Southwest University, China西南大学 and the University of the West Indies, Jamaica, to develop higher expertise and Canadian educational leaders in digital learning and sustainability.

The three eCampusOntario member leads will liaise with international experts on four continents to design and draft five modules focusing on teacher practitioner research in healthy remote learning, ‘examples of global success in remote pedagogy’. An open EdD will serve to develop talent and leaders in sustainable remote education.

 Project Lead:Isabelle, Barrette-Ng 

Project Grant: $85,068.00

Restoration ecology courses stress that students learn knowledge and leadership skills necessary to successfully restore degraded regions. Yet traditional classrooms offer limited opportunities to plan and implement restoration. To train and empower youth to take on the challenge of ecological restoration and reconnect with nature, the myWATERSHED sandbox game will create a digital twin of the Great Lakes that allows learners to engage in restoration using a simulated endangered species restoration effort. The myWATERSHED game offers users a unique opportunity to take ownership of restoration solutions through real-world data and take this knowledge further by challenging them to make management decisions in a highly realistic simulated environment. The game will be developed around the Unity cross-platform game engine as a sandbox game that simulates a working model of the Great Lakes using quasipixelated digital objects that interact with their neighbors using ecological principals.

Project Lead:Isabelle, Barrette-Ng 

Project Grant: $85,782.00

OpenGenLab will create for the first time an immersive virtual-reality learning environment where students will have the freedom to explore challenging genetics concepts through a combination of self-motivated play and guided learning modules. The core of the project will involve the programming of three central tools (virtual microscope, PCR thermal cycler and DNA sequencer) to simulate the major experimental approaches used in real genetics and molecular biology laboratories. A variety of learning modules will be developed in which students utilize the tools to learn basic principles, as well to engage in iterative self-directed hypothesis testing to develop a command of more complex and challenging higher-level concepts.

To create this ambitious simulation framework, we have assembled an outstanding team of educators and technical experts from five institutions to collaborate with students, embodying the VLS principles to be collaborative, learner-driven and digital by design

 Project Lead:Niel, Van Engelen

Project Grant: $75,000.00

Wood is an increasingly important construction material in Ontario and Canada, yet expertise in this area is lacking. Currently only 25% of accredited engineering programs in Ontario offer wood design in core undergraduate courses. There is high demand for new employees to have training and experience in this area. The development of new undergraduate courses in wood design thus has two major benefits. First, it addresses the increasing demand for wood design expertise and makes graduates highly employable. Second, it ensures that students will have a high impact and meaningful educational experience, even in an online environment. The new courses will contain a variety of materials including syllabi, lectures, virtual environments and demonstrations, assignments, solutions, etc. Users will be guided to extract portions of the material to construct a course at the appropriate duration for their program if a full course is not possible. 

Project Lead:Afshin Rahimi

Project Grant: $35,215.00

The technology to be evaluated is an assessment platform with the ability to provide individualized assessment instrument (AI) (i.e., homework, quizzes, exams, projects, etc.) for each student in the course, consistent marking, feedback and rubrics, and collaborative grading features. Studies [1–3] suggest that the transition to online teaching and learning can present challenges to maintaining academic integrity with the use of traditional assessments. Without large question pools, or the ability to rapidly create and update these, it is difficult to ensure that students receive different versions of the same assessment activity to minimize the opportunity for collaboration on individual assessments. There is a need for a platform that can make the process easier and more efficient for instructors to produce individualized AIs for students. Ideally, such a platform should also allow for collaborative and consistent grading and feedback to ensure fairness and consistency among all students with their assessments.

There is no educational platform based in Ontario (or elsewhere) that currently offers such a service. While some existing platforms can provide a level of individualized AIs for students, none provide corresponding rubrics/marking guides tailored for each student’s AI. In addition, most do not provide granular and customizable mapping and reporting on achievement of learning outcomes at an item level, which is of particular importance to professional programs that need to track this data. Whiteboard (henceforth referred to as the platform) by ForThink Inc was developed specifically to address these gaps in current technologies. The technology provides a scalable, easy to use, and customizable platform that enables educators to develop and deploy robust individualized assessment with efficient in-built workflows for marking and feedback in both online and offline settings.

 Project Lead:Nick Baker

Project Grant: $199,945.50

Implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) ensures the provision of accessibility options throughout post-secondary education and is the catalyst for this project. Post-secondary institutions across the province are committed to equity, access and inclusion for all learners. While access and inclusion goals are often accomplished by instituting Universal Design for Learning principles (UDL), the implementation of UDL varies widely in higher education. In addition, the swift move to remote learning during the pandemic has shifted focus away from previous gains made in inclusive and accessible education for Ontario’s post-secondary institutions. To address this gap and shift focus back to equity, access and inclusion, this project aims to develop a UDL micro-credential for Ontario’s post-secondary educators, which will provide UDL resources for technology mediated learning environments in support of AODA compliance and EDI goal attainment.