TESS 2022

I recently attended the TESS conference in Toronto, sponsored by eCampusOntario. The theme of the conference was The Hybrid Experience: Designing the Future of Learning. The conference was a combination of theoretical and explanations of practical applications.

The organizers have made the keynote and panels recordings available on YouTube, if you wish to watch. the TESS 2022 playlist. They also have recordings from previous years’ conferences.

Conference Accessibility

As someone who is putting together information on Accessibility at our university, I was paying attention to the ways that accommodations were provided at the conference. The venue was almost completely accessible – I say ‘almost’ because the Globe and Mail Centre where the conference was held has an unusual (at least to me!) system where elevator floors must be chosen from outside the elevator. You have to specify where you were going. And sometimes floor buttons were turned off. I had to walk up a set of stairs to get to a session. I let the organizers know and they fixed this for the second day.

The conference also tried to provide captions for all sessions however they chose to display Microsoft Word with narration turned on, on a secondary screen. This wasn’t a good choice – the text was all a single lump with no punctuation and no spacing. I turned on Microsoft Translator on my smartphone and it worked much better. Another choice would have been a blank slide and PowerPoint captions.

One event that bugged me was when we were asked to stand and take off our hats while Elder Whabagoon conducted the opening ceremony. It was amazing to be able to participate in this; however, I wear a hat for religious reasons. There were only 2 of us in the room wearing them. It would have been better to phrase it as, “if you are able.”

You may think that I’m being petty – the conference was amazing! – however, since I’m about to talk about accessibility for in-person classes to a group of instructors, these are definitely something that I would keep in mind and share.

Conference Take-Aways

  • Digital by design: create options that enable higher participation, accessibility, reskilling and upskilling
  • Move from pivot to purpose
  • Humanize experiences despite the pressure to dehumanize
  • Consider different types of learners (incl. mature learners) and flexible modalities
  • Open Education Global
  • Contact North for PD
  • Humber College – developed Digital Plan in conjunction with Academic Plan

Keynote: Futures for Liberating Learners and Technology

Maria Crabtree of Knowledgeworks On YouTube Slides

  • The future needs to start NOW. Whose future? Who benefits? Begin with the future in mind. Ask questions ahead of time instead of after-the-fact reacting. Support the values you want and be prepared for short and long-term possibilities and consequences (if you eat ice cream, be prepared to go to the gym).
  • Keep an eye on what is happening outside of the education, especially around tech. This will give hints about what is to come in education.
  • Include learners in the conversation – young people have the right to shape their own reality.
  • Consider culturally responsive pedagogy.
  • Two critical uncertainties:
    1. Social Cohesion – recognizing another’s humanity, fostering interconnection and respect and being willing to work across differences for mutual well-being
    2. Responsiveness of public institutions to the needs and demands of their constituents. Share power in creating solutions.

Prepping like an optimist, teaching like a pessimist: Considering the ethics behind the tech in order to be inclusive

Dr. Anne Bartosik, Professor & Instructional Designer, George Brown College

  • Where do you have agency to increase ethical considerations when using tech?
  • Naïve to believe we’re separate & in control of tech
  • Who is included & excluded in hybrid learning practices? •Race, language •Accessibility (Padlet – no Alt text, screen reader issues) •Access -wifi, bandwidth (convert to PDF so can be loaded within LMS), cost, devices, time (2nd jobs, children), international •Digital skills •Privacy: tracking and collection of data, accuracy •How long students spend on a question/material –may have gone for coffee •Craiyon.com (Dall-E Mini) – AI •Those who don’t see themselves in teaching materials – even images used
  • Rights of Students –> they come to learn, not to be products
  • Right to be forgotten

Panel: Normal it wasn’t. What could it look like to have equitable access to education? Voices from the field On YouTube

  • During Pandemic we learned what is essential
  • Safe and brave places, especially if challenges. Afterwards, accountable spaces. Imaginative and action spaces.
  • Respond to how students want to represent their knowledge
  • What did we gain? What don’t we want to lose?
  • Personal conversations by instructors and students to form connections.
  • Both faculty and students need opportunity to make choices
  • “My normal is not your normal”

Enhancing equity in mental health education through inclusive integration of virtual simulation debriefing

Katherine Timmermans, Laura Killam, Natalie Chevalier (Katherine.Timmermans@cambriancollege.ca )

Frances Cavanagh, Professors at Cambrian College (laura.killam@cambriancollege.ca or @nursekillam

Virtual simulation 
– designed with UDL – fewer requests for accommodation
– builds skills and knowledge prior to assessment

  1. Critical thinking question > 3 scenarios > Students make decisions
  2. Program provides feedback (no educators during simulation) – private, data not collected
  3. Self-Debrief – creativity encouraged, no APA, emphasis on depth, resubmission permitted as many times as desired
  4. Group Debrief – rubric (or marking guidelines) but no grade, reflection, flexible – clear instructions, walk through, multiple strategies
  5. Flexible Deadlines (dual dates incl. final submission)

Can-Sim site

More information at Teachonline.ca about Video Simulations from presenter

The Digital Learning Landscape in Ontario: Implications for the Future of Post-Secondary Education On YouTube Slides

Dr. Nicole Johnson, Executive Director, Canadian Digital Learning Research Association


  • Key terms defined
  • Pandemic challenges: anticipated trends, student preferences, EDI, implications for the future
  • More diverse voices in different roles
  • Paradox: we need instructors to step up, but burned out and lacking knowledge of how to
  • In-Person: we blame prof for a bad class / Online: we blame the modality
  • How do we measure a quality class regardless of modality?

Students: Want choice and flexibility. More tech, no matter the modality. Also need support around time management and navigating different modalities.

Instructors Need: More PD around hybrid, alternative assessments, interactive pedagogies.

Presentation slides from similar presentation on Survey Findings

Creating Immersive and Digitally Accessible Skills Programs: A Case Study in Professional Development Context

 Gail Margaret Geronimo, Program Lawyer
Heather Gore Liddell, Director, CLE Programs
Victoria Watkins, Executive Director, Assistant Dean (Osgoode Hal Law School)
York University Osgood Professional Development, Osgoode Hall Law School

  • Lawyers practice trial advocacy skillsOpening Planary –> Tell (lectures) à Show (demos of skills) –> Do (trial in front of real judges)  –> Feedback (small group, live with video) –> Closing Judges Panel
  • Held in-person but needed to pivot – what is essence of program? Performance, feedback, interaction with senior practitioners.
  • Zoom – recorded, played back to give feedback. More breaks (Zoom fatigue)
  • Hybrid: pedagogical (LO, agenda, materials); training (faculty, participants, staff); logistics (scheduling, registration, internal team operators, back-up plan); communications (purpose, content, university pandemic response and institutional changes)
  • Trained all faculty together, participant training, cross-trained staff if needed to isolate, on LMS

Including Indigenous Learners in a Hybrid Future On YouTube

Moderator: Audrey Rochette, Indigenous Relations Consultant
Panelists: Jonathan Boyer-Nolan, Joshua Broad, Danika Pearce

Barriers in learning virtually / hybrid

  • Remote community – access to wifi /tech
  • Lack of sense of community
  • Reluctance to ask for help
  • First generation learner – family doesn’t know how to support
  • Library closed during Pandemic
  • Mental health, isolation, trauma
  • Violence and what is happening now in Canada
  • Different – not same background as others  

What will it take to make a conducive environment for all learners?


  • Talk directly with those most impacted. Most institutions have student governments. Ask learners.
  • Hybrid is not inherently negative. But many have jobs while they are learning, breaking generational cycles. Be mindful of learners who are working extra hard to support life goals.
  • Provide sense of community, social network.
  • Instead of a focus on grades, focus on gaining knowledge, shifting to succeeding in life and learning how to connect and help others.
  • Be accommodating. Policies and processes can get in way. Remove barriers. Example: have designated spots for smudging in residences, with ventilation.
  • Continued support for medicines being available, especially before exampls. Also wearing ceremonial clothing at convocation.
  • Hire Indigenous staff and instructors.

Creating engaging hybrid learning environments for any teaching style (workshop)

 Dr. Ashley Thompson, Educational Development Facilitator, STEM specialist
Dr. Nina Doré, Educational Development Facilitator, Strategic initiatives
Carleton University

  • Different terminology and modalities
  • Bimodal -> student had to declare in advance; didn’t go well
  • Teaching online: Students – 56% yes, 25.8 yes with improvements. Teachers – 40% probably not
  • Zoom – different approaches: either TA to monitor or no monitor but projected DMs, frequent check-in. Lapel pin mic. Alternate between groups – intentional about involving both.  Tutorial with doc camera that’s uploaded to LMS. 

Workshop Task: Based on your assigned teaching style (e.g. discussion based, lecture, lab) identify hyflex-friendly strategies (low-high tech) to tackle common teaching challenges: Engagement, Knowledge checks, Skills application & practice. 5 min per challenge.

Review and Reset: Next generation approaches to digital learning strategy advancement at three Ontario universities

 Laurie Harrison, Director, Digital Learning Innovation, University of Toronto
Joanne Kehoe, Lead Educational Developer, Digital Pedagogies, MacPherson Institute, McMaster
Nick Baker, Director, Office of Open Learning  

Digital Learning Strategies and Related Docs  

Listen to students: they want flexibility, respect, compassion, real world experiences, UDL. Commitments: learning first, students first.  Balance student expectations with instructor perspectives. Digital by design. Good course design is most important – not modality specific.  

Check out Humber DLS.  

Digital whiplash

Entangled Pedagogy and Hybrid Design

Dr. Time Fawns – slides and YouTube

People to Follow

Terry Greene – Senior eLearning Designer, Trent U (and TESS 2022 moderator) blog and tweets here

Robert Luke – CEO, eCampusOntario – Website

Elder Whabagoon – involved in many cross-campus and wider initiatives  – About Me page

Maria Crabtree – Director of Strategic Foresight Projects, KnowledgeWorks  Twitter

Hon. Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities  Twitter Ontario Colleges and Universities Twitter

Dr. Nicole Johnson, Executive Director, Canadian Digital Learning Research Association


eCampusOntario stream – 3 virtual week sessions  

TESS 2022 – Full Playlist – Keynotes and Panels

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