Ten Western initiatives have been awarded a total of $1 million in funding as part of the eCampusOntario Virtual Learning Strategy.
The grants are part of a $50-million investment by the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities to advance virtual learning across the province’s postsecondary institutions.
“We are delighted to see so many innovative ideas brought forward from across campus and to have them recognized through this investment,” said John Doerksen, vice-provost (Academic Programs). “Even prior to the pandemic, advancements in virtual learning have been a priority for Western, and we’re excited to see these new projects come to life.”
Funded Western projects include an Indigenous languages revitalization program and a cross-institution initiative that helps instructors embed skills fostering student wellbeing and success into their curriculum.
Developing a blended Indigenous languages revitalization program
Indigenous languages are endangered, yet critically important to safeguarding Indigenous Peoples’ identities and culture.
With that in mind, Western and the Anishinabek Educational Institute are working with local First Nation community partners (Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, Munsee-Delaware Nation, and Oneida Nation of the Thames) to develop an enhanced, equitable and decolonized Indigenous languages program.
“More than acquiring another language, this embodies so much in terms of growing and moving beyond positions that many Indigenous Peoples have landed in because of colonization,” said Christy Bressette, vice-Provost and associate vice-president (Indigenous Initiatives). “It also establishes a foundation where Indigenous pedagogies, philosophies and ways of knowing can be shared in a good way to help everybody better understand solutions such as caretaking and stewarding the Earth.”
The Indigenous Languages Revitalization Program takes a learner-driven approach that responds to Indigenous (and non-Indigenous) learner needs and interests, while removing barriers to access learning.
The program offers three different paths:
- A series of online workshops for a micro-certificate in Indigenous languages revitalization, accessible to all community members
- A hybrid co-curricular workshop series in Indigenous languages revitalization for undergraduate students
- An online Anishinaabemowin language short course accessible to all students and community members
Uncovering the hidden curriculum: Creating a suite of skills-based resources to support learners and promote equitable education
Nicole Campbell has always viewed instructors as “the front-line to student mental health.”
An assistant professor and developer of the Interdisciplinary Medical Sciences program in the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Campbell is leading a project to create a suite of wrap-around supports for educators to embed within curriculums to directly support students’ academic, personal and professional development and in turn, support their mental health. Resources will be highly flexible to be customized and incorporated into various online formats and models based on user needs.
The project was conceived with input from Western’s Centre for Teaching and Learning, Student Experience and student affairs professionals from across campus and in collaboration with 15 partners at universities and colleges across the province.
“We are targeting ‘the hidden curriculum’—the unwritten and unofficial lessons learners aren’t taught formally, but gain implicitly,” Campbell said. “They’re often referred to as ‘soft skills,’ however, these are competencies learners need to be successful in their programs and to prepare for the challenges of the 21st century.”
The supports range from executive function skills, including time and project management, to those associated with critical thinking, emotional intelligence and effective communication.
A digital interactive needs assessment tool will help educators determine which resources are most appropriate for their curriculum, and students will partner with educators to design practical and accessible content.
Other Western initiatives funded by the new eCampusOntario grants include:
Creating and implementing high-quality, sustainable online programs Lead: Stephanie Horsley, Centre for Teaching and Learning
Introductory communications course for new students in graduate programs Lead: Karan Siddiqui, Engineering
Preceptor education program: Preparing students and preceptors for on-site practice experience Lead: Lisa McCorquodale, Health Sciences
Signs, symptoms and investigations: A repository of medical education assets Lead: Danielle Dilkes, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry
Gamified simulation training for faculty development Lead: Michael Brock, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry
Framework and modules for courses in scientific computing Lead: Mikko Karttunen, Science
Connecting for climate change action Lead: Katrina Moser, Social Science
Creating a new online course on multiscale analysis and modeling in structural geology Lead: Jiang Dazhi, Science