December 2021 Newsletter


As we eagerly await the holiday season and much-needed break, we have an opportunity to reflect on the crystallization of new ideas and approaches to engage students in meaningful learning.  Many of us have been pushed to learn new pedagogies, tools, and methods under constantly changing circumstances.

CANeLearn has embarked on a renewed focus on research looking at challenges and successes seen in rapidly evolving instructional practices across Canada and internationally (see more details below).  We invite you to share your voice and stories at the upcoming Digital Learning Symposium (April 6-8 in Vancouver, details below).

The CANeLearn team wishes you and your family a wonderful and relaxing holiday.

photo credit: Ellen Kinsel


April 6-8 Digital Learning Symposium– New landscapes. New practices.


  • Dave Cormier (creativity online)
  • Bonnie Stewart (teaching – where to in ’22?)
  • Emerging research on policies and practices across Canada
  • BC’s online learning schools and new quality assurance model
  • Focused dialogue and discussion, networking, and sharing with colleagues
  • Streamed presentations and facilitated online options for those unable to attend
NEW “Practitioner Corner” in the JOLR journal

Get involved in publishing in the Journal of Online Learning Research which is expanding its focus to include a practitioner’s voice.  More information here.

#OTESSA 2022: Critical Change — Call for proposals due Dec. 15!

As part of Congress, the OTESSA Conference encourages educators from K-12 or post-secondary, administrators, and policy-makers to share ideas on the complexities that technology and open educational practice raise for education while building connections, collaborations, and critical conversations.  More information here.

Photo credit: Aaron Burden via Unsplash


Read, watch, listen

12 guiding principles for teaching with technology – still relevant?

Tony Bates asks whether the principles put forward in his 1995 book are still relevant today. Find out what is still important in his article here.

Teachers’ Preparedness and Professional Learning about Using Educational Technologies During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted education at multiple levels. This study reports on a survey of 560 K-12 US educators who shared their levels of preparedness during the transition to virtual learning in the Spring of 2020/amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the full article here

From our friends at DLAC…

The current forms of ed-tech echo the technology across the past decades (radio, television, desktop computers, CD-Roms, etc.) that were supposed to “transform” education. None did. Today the same transformative predictions are made regarding virtual reality, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence.

Read Part 1 here //  Read Part 2 here

The Latest on Enrollment 

For US data on enrollment in fully online schools, click here.

For Canadian data, see the State of the Nation (ensure your program is part of the data, click here to submit your info).

Online Learning Can Be Engaging and Effective

Online learning, done right, is effective. Yet, teaching online by necessity rather than aspiration has led to many online attempts at learning that have fallen short of the mark, leaving those who were forced into it unsatisfied with the outcome and sometimes outright hostile to the whole idea. Howard Rheingold describes how he challenged himself and his learners to build a co-learning community. The article covers the process with a fair degree of detail and would be useful to try the same.

Read the full article here

Online Teacher Professional Development in Canada: A Review of the Research

Findings from a systematic review of 11 studies examining online teacher professional development in Canada between 2000-2020. A thematic content analysis of the articles led to four main themes:

  • knowledge exchange
  • reflective practice
  • multifaceted learning opportunities
  • just-in-time support

Read the full article here


Photo by @scottgraham on Unsplash

Many teens still struggling with condensed school schedules, but relief is coming — for some

To keep students in cohorts and minimize contacts, some schools have altered schedules to have them learn fewer subjects at one time and spend longer in each class daily. Yet students must also progress quickly through those subjects to take all required courses. Condensed schedules are taking a toll, say both students and school staff. While some regions plan to go back to normal timetables when able to, others are sticking with modified schedules the rest of the year.

Read the full article here

Principal Leadership in a Virtual Environment

The pandemic shift to remote learning has heightened awareness of the need for principals who are able to ensure that high-quality, equitable education takes place virtually as well as within the four walls of a classroom. This report is based on an examination of research literature supplemented by interviews with 11 principals and administrators knowledgeable about virtual learning.

Read the full article here

New Book
Staying Online: How to Navigate Digital Higher Education

Looking deeply into the dynamics of online learning today, Robert Ubell maps its potential to boost marginalized students, stabilize shifts in retention and tuition, and balance nonprofit and commercial services. This raises the question of whether online learning in K-12 can be part of any solution to mitigate equity issues for marginalized students. Read Bates’ book review for a quick summary here

Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute Quarterly Newsletter (Winter 2021)

Published scholarship in K-12 online and blended learning, including:

  • Effects of the community of inquiry, learning, and mentor presence on K-12 online learning outcomes
  • K-12 Virtual Schooling, COVID-19, and Student Success
  • Competency-Based Education: A Path Toward Equitable Learning
  • Analysis of K-12 Teachers’ Barriers to Implementing OER

Access the newsletter abstracts here

Photo by @felipepelaquim on Unsplash

Learn with us – Share with us – Together in Vancouver

2022 Digital Learning Symposium!

April 6-8, 2022

Present, Facilitate, Share

Save 50% on registration

Call for proposals

Book your hotel room at the 2020 rate – $185!

Rate available before & after the event



Taking the pulse of online learning in Canada

CANeLearn continues to build on its past research of online and blended learning and is embarking on building a base for quality in online pedagogy (see more about the design principles study here).

What we have published:

A description of pandemic pedagogy is on our research site:

Upcoming Studies

Remote Learning: How did we fare? – Jurisdictional study of successful practices, gaps, and challenges.

Post-pandemic policy and practice – Implications for online learning’s future.


Resources for the Digital Classroom


Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash


Engagement Strategies for Hybrid & HyFlex courses

HyFlex combines the terms “hybrid” and “flexible.” Hybrid refers to teaching and learning that integrates face-to-face synchronous and online asynchronous learning experiences. HyFlex learning gives students flexibility and choice by allowing learners to choose their participation path for each class. This comprehensive resource is CC-BY-NC-SA licensed and provides suggestions and resources for utilizing hyflex-hybrid engagement activities in your online and/or classroom teaching.  Page seven offers examples of engagement strategies and resources as does page 27.

Beyond the Basics: Teaching with Zoom’s New Tools

If you’re stuck in a Zoom rut and tired of limiting your classes to basic video, screen sharing, and polls, Beyond the Basics is free online training from Contact North | Contact Nord’s e-Learning Training Facilitator.  Learn how to increase engagement and accessibility for all types of learners by:

  • Enabling live transcriptions for added accessibility
  • Using PowerPoint in a virtual background as a more immersive way to present
  • Using focus mode to help learners avoid distractions by only seeing the host’s webcam
  • Using immersive view for creative discussions
  • Setting up and using exit surveys for all types of feedback

The link above will take you to more information and a schedule of live training sessions.

What is a Padlet? Teachers’ Step by Step Guide

Padlet is an online bulletin board that teachers and students can use to collaborate, curate, and share digital content. The way Padlet works is simple and easy: users create padlets and add posts to them; others interact with publicly shared posts (e.g, through comments and reactions) or contribute by adding more resources. Posts can contain various types of digital content such as text, videos, audio recordings, screencasts, weblinks, graphs, images, GIFs, and many more. Check out this great guide from BCCampus.

Check out these sites with updates shared previously…

WEBSITES you didn’t know you NEEDED to know!!

A collection of video resources of websites you did not know you need! This is the winner from Jen Giffen’s BlendEd BC Demo Slam

Videoconferencing Alternatives: How Low-Bandwidth Teaching Will Save Us All
When we try to replicate classroom experiences in an online environment, it’s easy to think of video conferencing as our go-to tool for all sorts of learning objectives—and for good reason. Most of us have participated in a video conference at work or had a video chat with friends or family at some point. We like the idea of being able to see and hear our students while interacting with them in real-time just like we do when teaching face to face. But there are two key factors that make this approach problematic.

Teaching Online Resources
The online teaching experience involves pedagogical methods that can be very different from those that many instructors are accustomed to using in a face-to-face environment. Fostering self-directed learning in a digital environment, conceptualizing the learning goals and methods of assessments, requires learner-centered practices and intentional instructional design.  Includes resources providing foundational support for teaching online.

Frameworks, Tools, Resources
A directory of links to resources compiled by BCcampus. Updated frequently.

Information Directory: Blogs and Opinions, Books and Videos, News, Research and Reports
An information directory created to fill the need for Canadian-based information, specifically British Columbia, on open education; however, content from many English-speaking countries is included. This is an ongoing resource that is updated as information becomes available.

Embracing Ways of Knowing
BCcampus supported the co-creation of the OER Pulling Together: A Guide for the Indigenization of Post-secondary Institutions. These resources are designed to

  • Engage with varying audiences, including administration and educational leadership, teaching faculty, student services personnel, researchers, and instructional designers;
  • Include resources and considerations on meaningful and authentic engagement;
  • Supplement rather than replace training currently offered.

Conferencing Tools for teaching & learning: Best practices
Included are considerations for general etiquette, hosting virtual office hours, facilitating group work and presentations, lecturing, showing videos, hosting external presenters, and managing the space. Additionally, theoretical frameworks to support best practices when teaching online are provided.

A UK program of professional learning by and for teachers to support the pedagogy of blended learning. BlendEd helps teachers, school leaders, and other educators design effective teaching and learning that makes the most of digital technologies – in the classroom and from home, live and self-paced, in-person and online.

Creating and Using Rubrics for Assessment
Useful ideas for creating and using rubrics with guidelines for assessing a wide variety of activities, including e-portfolios, video and multimedia projects, teamwork, and research process.

Tips to Make Your LMS Content Accessible
While focused on Moodle, the information contained in this post can be applied to any LMS.

Designing for Accessibility (PDF posters) 
Includes tips for designing content for accessibility for special needs such as autism, dyslexia, users of screen readers, low vision, physical or motor disabilities, deaf or hard of hearing, and anxiety.


An Important Distance Learning Resource for Teachers, Students, and Parents

Wide Open School offers free learning activities for all grades. Students can browse activities related to various subjects including social studies, emotional wellbeing, reading and writing, math, arts, music, science, English language learning, digital citizenship, and more. Within each of these activities, you can search for materials by grade level or search label. You can for instance search for activities that include videos, worksheets, lessons, etc. Some of these activities offer free downloadable materials. You can also share them to Google Classroom.


Tools for Project-Based Learning

Project-based learning, or PBL, challenges students to design and engage in more authentic, extended, and complex learning. But while PBL is a trusted strategy for increasing student engagement and learning, it’s not easy to orchestrate. If you’re doing it right, students will be engaging in a variety of interest-driven projects all with various needs and on different schedules. So how do you manage it all? Tech can be a huge help. This list gathers some useful productivity and organization tools that can help both teachers and students keep track of, finish, and assess projects. There are also a few tools designed specifically for PBL, as well as plug-and-play PBL experiences. Learn about these tools here


Rough Guide for Spotting Bad Science

Being able to evaluate the evidence behind a scientific claim is important. Being able to recognize bad science reporting, or faults in scientific studies is equally important. Includes 12 points to help separate the science from the pseudoscience. Download the PDF here


ABC Learning Design 

Spreadsheet template to facilitate the collaborative design of learning scenarios. Check it out here.