I am excited to get to her Ken talk about innovation today in person.

I really love his strategy for knowing when to collect responses – he says he treats it like popcorn. When the responses stop coming in he knows he may burn it and moves on. So cute. Also, his slides are amazing. I need to find out what program he is using.

Drivers of Change

Politics and Funding

There are a lot of pressures in Ontario that are political in nature and are reducing the amount of funding per student that organisations are receiving. More and more institutions are looking for creative ways to respond, which seems to involve a lot of automation, outsourcing, and collaboration in the United States and Canada. Ken shared a variety of examples of successful and failed innovations.

It is sad for me to see that the main driver of decisions are not based on what is best for students, but what is financially feasible. Yet, I understand the need to change how we deliver education and be more efficient with the funds we have. I just think we need to be careful that we do not dehumanize the experience.


Students are more diverse and we are trying to be more inclusive and respond to their needs. More and more of the young people in Canada are coming from other countries. Ken says immigrants are more likely to live in the GTA, which makes it more difficult for Northern areas to recruit students.

Diversity is seen in marketing materials, as well as physical markers of reconciliation efforts. Other creative efforts involve specifically targeting diverse groups of students with programs specifically for transitioning these students into other programs. The challenge is that local consultation is needed since what works in one context cannot be applied in another context. We need to be careful not to look at the examples Ken shared today and think they will solve our programs.

Diversity is not just about indigenous or immigrant strategies. We need to be inclusive of all learners. Gender diversity, mental health, and disabilities are student support issues that we have been working on improving but need to do more to address in Ontario. I have observed that addressing these challenges is becoming more challenging for professors as class sizes and workloads increase. Universal design of one of my classes has been quite helpful in my experience. However, there are institutional barriers to innovations like co-creation of the syllabus. Once we investigate how to best approach innovations like this in our context allowing for student choice in how they represent their learning will be more effective.

Students need to work more in order to go to school so an emphasis on non-traditional students has been seen in marketing efforts. Accommodation of students who are trying to manage work, life, and school are needed and more programs are being developed to welcome these students. This innovation requires more services that are open when students are doing their studies.

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You got this Bitmoji – Trying to show that faculty need to support students.

“Meeting students where they are when they are” is a fundamental challenge. YES! It is much harder to offer classes after all the services on campus are closed. As a faculty member who teaches after hours it is essential to be able to manage technical issues and mental health issues on your own. To manage technical problems I need to have a back up plan for any strategy that involves technology. Ken had to have a back up plan as there were some technical issues in our session despite testing. Technical issues happen all the time and it does not really matter when we teach we need to have a back-up plan.

As I listen to Ken talk about the need to internationalize to survive I agree that now is the time to become known as a destination for internalization. I also see that we need to support these students. As he said, putting our eggs in that basket can be risky. If the relationship between Canada and the other Country becomes tenuous those students will no longer be coming to Canada. One area of growth is in developing social relationships between domestic and international students. Creative and intentional efforts to create social relationships are needed.


Scaling is the largest problem. What works well with a small group can be costly and often not pragmatic with larger groups. Feedback-focused assessment and a lot of other evidence based strategies just do not scale in my experience.


I like the idea of using technology to help us do more. I think that chat bots can be a good thing, but when installing Alexa across campus I worry about data privacy.

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Face Palm Bitmoji reacting to allowing Alexa access to data without consent around campus.

I have heard about the TA Jill Watson before and find it interesting. It would be nice to focus my time on non-repetitive tasks or questions. However, sometimes in these moments as a human I can notice things that the student is not asking about and intervene to support their mental health instead of focusing on the question the student comes with.

YES! The trick is to make sure that the integration of technology and AI are ethical and not degrading the quality of education. Thank you Ken for raising that point. I wholeheartedly agree.

Traditional lecture is “toxic” to student learning.

No More Lecture!

Lectures are not effective in large doses. Accomplishing what UBC did in the video below is a slow culture change that takes a consistent investment of money over a long period of time. It is a cultural shift.

Personalized Learning

A variety of institutions are trying to be more flexible and meet students where they are. There are a number of approaches and we made the list of institutions trying our best to achieve this goal.

Innovative Strategies

Simulation, gamification, and open learning are wonderful ways to meet students where they are. I have been exploring these three areas and my students are consistently saying they want more.

AI and Automation

There are efforts to do more and more through automation that will impact jobs. What does that mean for our students? How can we prepare them for the future? Our students cannot hope to retire before AI takes over some jobs.

We need to prepare students to be good with soft skills!

Clinical matters. The value of education is in the hands-on area.

Work readiness (not memorizing facts) is very important for student success in the real world. I think our student’s job is safe, but that does not mean our program is safe if we do not respond to student needs.


There are a number of Colleges and Universities working together to offer programs as a combination of going to College and University seems to be the best way to get jobs.

Future Trends?

Smaller chunks for credentials are being explored in higher education.

there are so many things Ken talked about it is hard to reflect on them all at once. The one thing that is certain is that education is changing. We need to know that these things are happening whether or not we participate in it.


I am excited to watch Ken’s videos. I want to reflect more on how we can improve the educational experience of students through innovation in a ethical way. His videos will give me some food for thought as we embark on strategic planning. I am so thankful that he came in person to lecture to us (mind you I could have used a break). Here is his YouTube channel.

The audience asked wonderful questions. His responses were eloquent. We need to make data driven decisions and respond to the needs of students and employers.

The performance based funding model being rolled out by the Government is problematic because it rewards Colleges for maintaining status quo not for improvement. It also punishes Colleges for not meeting goals. That means if we innovate we risk not getting funded.

Bad Bitmoji

Ken does not want us to leave thinking that the world is burning. There is hope. We just need to pay attention to these trends so we can respond.

What about student consultation? Student input into what they want to learn is important. Paying attention to sustainable development goals and giving students meaning in their work on campus is a strategy for improving their experience.

quality content
Quality Contest Bitmoji

Thank you Cambrian for this excellent kick-off to strategic planning.


Laura Killam is an experienced nursing educator from Northern Ontario with a keen interest in improving student learning through innovation. For more information please visit http://nursekillam.com/.


Ken Steele · October 11, 2019 at 4:04 pm

Thanks for the thoughtful documentation of our session and some great photos, Laura!

The apps I used today included Apple Keynote, plenty of Photoshopped images and edited video clips (Final Cut Pro X) and of course the realtime polls using PollEverywhere.

The technical issue seemed to come down to a faulty audio cable — but you are right, it is always something! Kudos to Kyle Ainslie for diagnosing the problem and replacing the cable on the fly, without missing more than one beat!


    NurseKillam · October 12, 2019 at 8:43 am

    Awesome video clip. You are so right – we need to be able to roll with whatever happens as educators (like building a plane in the air). Kyle is awesome.

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