As Director, Online Learning Strategies, Laurie provides advice and guidance regarding eLearning initiatives and capacity development across all three University of Toronto campuses. She brings a wealth of experience across all facets of online learning including: project planning; design and implementation; faculty development; strategy and policy.
Laurie’s achievements in the University IT community include, among other initiatives, advocacy in the area of accessible and inclusive design and launch of the Online Undergraduate Course Initiative. Most recently she has coordinated a number of externally funded projects related to MOOC research & development; hybrid and active learning online; and more than 25 provincially funded online courses and curriculum development projects.
Laurie has had extensive leadership experience in the field, with insights garnered from a range of leadership roles within the university over the past 20 years. The Online Learning Strategies portfolio is part of Information Technology Services and reports to the Chief Information Officer. Her strategic and tactical leadership is strengthened through close working relationships with the Vice-Provost Academic Programs, the Centre for Teaching Support and Innovation, and also the Director of Academic and Collaborative Technology and his team.
Laurie holds a PhD from the Higher Education program at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, having focused her research on eLearning policy and strategy leadership. She first joined the University’s central learning technology staff in 1997 as a specialist in online learning and inclusive design. After a short period managing Ryerson’s Digital Projects Office, she returned to OISE in 2006 to manage Education Commons’ services and partnership projects with government and other institutions. In this capacity, Laurie led several initiatives on OISE’s behalf including the collaborative development of the Ministry of Education’s Online Education Resource Bank, as part of the Province’s e-learning strategy. In 2008 she was selected to attend the Frye Leadership Institute, a respected program known for developing tomorrow’s leaders in Higher Education Information Technology. Since 2011 Laurie has provided guidance on university strategy development, faculty support, government initiatives, and a range of administrative operations related to online learning initiatives at the university across all three campuses, including both undergraduate and graduate programs.
As Online Learning Coordinator, Will Heikoop works with the Online Learning Strategies portfolio on University of Toronto eLearning initiatives including the Online Undergraduate Course Initiative (OUCI), Ontario Online and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). He brings expertise in online course (re)design and works closely with teams on learning resource development and course production. In addition, he offers training and support with numerous educational technologies from webinar tools to eLearning authoring software. Will also brings course building experience in various learning platforms such as Blackboard Learning Management System, and MOOC platforms edX and Coursera.
Will is a graduate of McMaster University and York University’s Master of Education program with a focus on teaching and learning with technology. He has been working with Online Learning Strategies since 2013.
Hedieh Najafi is a researcher with Online Learning Strategies at the University of Toronto. She obtained her doctoral degree in Curriculum Studies and Teacher Development and completed the Knowledge Media and Design Institute collaborative Program at the University of Toronto. With a strong background in educational research, Hedieh is now conducting studies to investigate learner and instructor experience in online learning contexts. Her research areas in the past eleven years included computer supported collaborative learning, self-directed online learning, self and group regulation in technology-enhanced learning environments, inquiry-based learning, formal and non-formal online learning, faculty development, and technology-supported knowledge communities. She has designed, conducted, and published qualitative and quantitive studies and has collaborated in multi-disciplinary curriculum design and evaluation projects in post-secondary education, professional development, and in science education context.