May 18, 2022

UCalgary teaching teams receive 2022 D2L Innovation Award

Business and education teams recognized for innovations in student-centred teaching and learning
Convocation at UCalgary
Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

Teaching teams from the Werklund School of Education and Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary have been announced as recipients of the 2022 D2L Innovation Award.

The award, presented by the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, in partnership with D2L (Desire2Learn), recognizes innovative approaches made by post-secondary collaborative teams in student-centred teaching and learning.

The honoured projects are specific and intentional: one looks at systemic change in education by addressing wellness practices of educators and future teachers, and the other is designed to expand leadership and entrepreneurial skills of business students through experiential learning.

Teachers of Tomorrow addresses health promotion for students and teachers

Well-being is at the centre of the Teachers of Tomorrow project, overseen by founding members Dr. Shelly Russell-Mayhew from Werklund and Kerri Murray and Louise McClelland, BKin’15, from Ever Active Schools (EAS).

The initiative uses innovative strategies to promote wellness practices for Bachelor of Education students. By modelling and promoting healthy behaviours and practices to BEd students, the intention is that these future teachers will, in turn, model health promotion for their future students.

The ripple effect is real — it’s estimated that a K-12 teacher will have contact with more than 3,000 elementary and secondary students over their career.

“Healthy students are better learners,” says Russell-Mayhew, BSc’94, MSc’98, PhD’03. “If we can have new teachers going into K-12 schools that are healthy and well themselves, and know how to create healthy environments, then we have the potential to influence many, many students.”

The program has been shared and modelled in other BEd programs across Canada. Russell-Mayhew and Murray presented last August at the Collaborations for Change conference, hosted by the Campus Mental Health Strategy.

The team also created the Comprehensive School Health Hub, a website aimed at connecting like-minded instructors and sharing resources like lesson plans in order to increase and raise awareness of well-being in programs. The PodClass, also created by the team, is a podcast series centred around conversations on school health.

Business course in entrepreneurial thinking

A first of its kind when created in 2014, the hands-on experiential learning course at Haskayne, Entrepreneurial Thinking (ENTI 317), teaches students leadership skills through developing entrepreneurial thinking competencies.

Students form teams to pitch new business ideas through the RBC Fast Pitch Competition. Teams selected from this experience move on to present to an expert panel for a chance to win more than $100,000, helping their ideas move beyond the ideation stage.

A requirement for Bachelor of Commerce students, ENTI 317 reaches approximately 800 undergraduate students each year, and the course has only grown in momentum.

“This award recognizes the seven years of hard work creating and refining our signature pedagogy,” says Houston Peschl, BA’98, MBA’10, team lead for ENTI 317. “The students' learning journey has been foundational to creating this course, and, every semester, our team continues to refine and innovate our students' experience.”

Peschl and colleagues Rosalynn Peschl, BComm’10; Leah Bortolin, BA’95, MA’98; Victoria Reid; and Bernice Cheung, BMus’21, BComm’21, have worked alongside industry peers and students in developing pedagogy for the entrepreneurial education used in ENTI 317. They have engaged in research and scholarship, as well as worked to scale the program, creating open-access resources to share their knowledge. Class content is provided through the free online platform, Failing Forward.

Recognition and support central to creating space for teaching innovation

Innovation in teaching and learning can thrive when educators are both supported and acknowledged, says Dr. Leslie Reid, vice-provost (teaching and learning).

“Seeing advances in BComm pedagogy and initiatives like Teachers of Tomorrow help remind all of us why we’re here — to enhance and transform our learning environments to best serve our students,” says Reid. “This work isn’t easy, so it’s important we celebrate and recognize the amazing teams creating space for innovation.”

See the full list of 2022 D2L Innovation Award winners.