Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

The Maple League of Universities, which includes StFX, receives national recognition for leading extraordinary student learning and innovation

May 6th, 2022

The Maple League of Universities, of which StFX is a member, 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 and 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 Gaoury-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 in May 2020 and then scaled across four universities in the Maple League in 2021-22. The OLTC program was delivered in curricular and co-curricular pathways at Acadia, Bishop’s, Mount Allison and St. Francis Xavier University, engaging students from across the Maple League in transformative experiential and work-integrated learning. 

From its conception to a university-wide and cross-institutional intervention, the project puts students at the heart of designing 21st century classrooms. 

“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: many faculty members moved from mastery of their field and teaching space into learner positions,” says co-founder Dr. Jessica Riddell. 

“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.”

StFX student Ben Boudreau 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.” 

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. 

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: 10 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.

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