This entry was originally posted on the State of the Nation: K-12 e-Learning in Canada website.


A few weeks back, the Ontario-based People for Education organization hosted their annual conference (you may remember the organization from the class size commentary that we posted here).  One of the main sessions during the conference was a panel focused on e-learning that was described as:

Public Education in a Changing World: Should All Students Nave to take four online courses?

The province plans to make e-learning mandatory for graduation. This panel focuses on the use of e-learning and technology in the classroom and beyond. Does it prepare students for the future? How is it an issue of equity and access?

Facilitator: Annie Kidder – Executive Director, People for Education

Annie Kidder is the Executive Director and a founder of People for Education. Formerly a theatre director, Kidder became involved in public education in Ontario in the late 1990’s and since then has become an expert on policy education policy and funding. She regularly provides advice to policy-makers and government, and her writing on education has been published in a range of media. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Ontario Principals’ Council 2004 Outstanding Contribution to Education Award, the Canadian Teachers’ Federation 2005 Public Education Advocacy Award, and in 2018, an honourary doctorate from York University. She has spoken at conferences in Canada, the United States, Europe, Africa and South America. She is regularly quoted in the media as an expert on education issues. She lives in Toronto.

Panelist: Alison (Slack) Baron – Director, Wenden Group Inc.

An educator since 1984, Alison (Slack) Baron has held many roles in education in Ontario: Secondary Teacher, Department Head, Vice Principal, System Technology Coordinator and District eLearning Contact. Involved in elearning since 2001, she was seconded to the Ministry of Education (eLearning Ontario) to assist in the development and introduction of the Ontario eLearning Strategy. She left the Ministry to become Coordinator of the Ontario eLearning Consortium (OeLC), a network of 23 Ontario School Boards who work together to provide exceptional elearning opportunities to students. While coordinating the elearning programs of the OeLC member boards, she chose to also teach online courses for TVDSB in order to maintain a concrete connection to the students, teachers, and the Ministry of Education’s online courses. In 2015 she was the CANeLearn nominee and subsequently won the International Innovator of the Year Award presented by the International Council for K-12 Online Learning (iNacol). Since retiring in 2015, she has continued her career in elearning by providing instructional design and pedagogical support for more than forty (40) of the Ministry of Education’s elearning courses.

Panelist: Beyhan Farhadi – PhD, University of Toronto

Dr. Farhadi holds a PhD in Geography from the University of Toronto and an MA in English from York University. Her dissertation, which she defended in September, examined the relationship between e-learning and educational inequality in the Toronto District School Board. Currently, she is applying her research findings on e-learning to develop blended English classes as a secondary teacher in the TDSB.

Panelist: Maxim Jean-Louis – President – Chief Executive Officer, Contact North | Contact Nord

Maxim Jean-Louis is President – Chief Executive Officer of Contact North | Contact Nord since 1996. Through 116 online learning centres across Ontario, Contact North I Contact Nord helps underserved Ontarians in 600 small rural, remote, Indigenous and Francophone communities access post-secondary education and training. He currently serves as Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of Renewed Computer Technology. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Board of Governors of Laurentian University and the Board of Directors of the Sudbury Art Gallery and of l’Association de l’Hôpital Montfort. He is the Chair of ONLINE LEARNING 2019: Global Learning & EdTech Expo, Teaching & Learning in the Digital Age.

The conference occurred about three weeks ago, and we noticed that two of the three panelists have posted their materials from the session online: