Press Release: Maple League Receives National Recognition for Student Experiences

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The Maple League of Universities receives National recognition for leading extraordinary student learning and innovation.


MAY 6, 2022 – The Maple League of Universities is proud to announce that the Online Learning and Technology Consultants (OLTC) program has won a D2L Innovation Award, the highest national recognition for teaching & learning with a collaborative team approach.


This program was designed by Dr. Jessica Riddell (Jarislowsky Chair of Undergraduate Teaching Excellence), Scott Stoddard (then Director of Information Technology), and undergraduate student Georges-Philippe Gadoury-Sansfaçon at Bishop’s University in the early days of the global pandemic. Training students in pedagogy, technology, and critical empathy, the team took a transformative approach to pandemic pedagogy by creating inclusive virtual learning communities. The OLTC program began as a pilot at Bishop’s University in May 2020 and then scaled across four universities in the Maple League in 2021 - 2022. The OLTC program was delivered in curricular and co-curricular pathways at our member universities, engaging students from across the Maple League in transformative experiential and work-integrated learning.


Co-founder Dr. Jessica Riddell asserts, “The OLTC program engages students as partners in the design of COVID classrooms to improve inclusion, equity, accessibility, and transformative learning. Universities are often slow to adapt and change, and yet the rapid move to online and remote instruction over the past two years has disrupted traditional positions of expert and learner. At every stage, we intentionally created spaces where the reversal of traditional paradigms generated rich spaces for student-centred innovation, which transformed mindsets and perspectives about what is possible for everyone involved, including faculty and student consultants to IT staff and student affairs teams.”


Ben Boudreau, a student at St. Francis Xavier University, helped to scale the program across the Maple League universities: “The students as partners (SAP) model flipped my perspective in terms of what is pedagogically possible within the classroom and I was amazed that as a small group we were able to help numerous professors discover possibilities that were previously believed impossible for their classrooms. This program goes further than simply helping the students, and the professors but contributes to higher education as a whole.”


Bishop’s professor and OLTC faculty participant Dr. Jasmeen Sidhu reflects that “the OLTC [program] offered me a unique opportunity to innovate my teaching and move my courses forward into an increasingly modern design. Through student partnership, teaching support, and cutting-edge pedagogical tools, the OLTC [program] offered me the ability to reflect and modernize my courses, and more importantly, my teaching philosophy. I can now better reflect my principles of equity and accessibility in my classes; as such, this program is transformative not just for our classrooms but for higher education more broadly.”


The Maple League consortium leads conversations on quality undergraduate education in Canada. Through inter-institutional collaborations, the four universities take a systems-thinking approach to student-centred education. Dr. Jeff Hennessy, Mount Allison University, Vice-President Academic and Provost reflects, “As post-secondary institutions around the world struggled to move to remote teaching in March 2020, universities that placed value on student-centred learning had a unique set of challenges: how do we partner with students on delivering a high-quality 21st-century education? The OLTC program has been a creative intervention in pandemic pedagogy and stands out as innovative in the landscape of higher education in Canada.”


Emily Rafuse, a student at Acadia University and an OLTC, shares her experiences in transformative work-integrated learning: “Through this program, I have worked with professors to curate their [learning management system] in order to better enhance their students' learning. Being able to talk to professors about pedagogies, universal design for learning, and accessibility from the perspective of a student with a disability has been so beneficial. It is so incredibly important for us to be able to have these conversations and make connections between the student and professor experience, and this program has definitely made room for all of us to have these greater dialogues that may not have happened otherwise.”


The D2L Innovation Award follows the announcement April 27, 2022 that all the Maple League universities were recognized in the 2022 3M National Student Fellow competition: ten fellows are named every year, and in 2022 a student from each of the four universities was awarded this prestigious fellowship, the highest national recognition of student educational leadership in Canada. Receiving both the D2L Innovation Award for the OLTC program, and stewarding 3M National Student Fellows through mentorship are both examples of student-centred approaches to high-quality undergraduate education.


Peter Ricketts, President of Acadia University and chair of the Maple League Presidents Council, remarks: “At the Maple League, we work together, building ecosystems of support for our students, faculty, staff, and administrators, to ensure we are “best in class” in delivering an extraordinary 21st-century liberal education.”


About the Maple League

The Maple League is made up of four universities – Acadia, Bishop’s, Mount Allison and St. Francis Xavier – who together form an alliance of small, rural, undergraduate liberal education institutions with Francophone heritage and a commitment to truth and reconciliation with indigenous communities. By fostering reciprocal relationships across institutional boundaries, we provide extraordinary opportunities to transform as leaders, scholars, and institutions. The Maple League creates distinctive learning environments that ensure our graduates are capable of navigating an increasingly complex world as citizens and leaders dedicated to the values of a just and civil society. For more information, visit our website: www.mapleleague.ca


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For more information, please contact:


Dr. Jessica Riddell

Executive Director, The Maple League of Universities

Stephen A. Jarislowsky Chair of Undergraduate Teaching Excellence

Full Professor, Department of English, Bishop's University

3M National Teaching Fellow (2015)

director@mapleleague.ca


Lauren Boultbee

Strategy & Advancement Lead

The Maple League of Universities

lboultbee15@ubishops.ca


Sherri Turner

Director, University Communications

Acadia University

sherri.turner@acadiau.ca


Olivier Bouffard

Director of Communications

Bishop’s University

obouffar@ubishops.ca


Robert Hiscock

Director of Marketing & Communications

Mount Allison University

rhiscock@mta.ca


Kyler Bell

Director of Marketing & Communications

St. FX University

kbell@stfx.ca


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