Flexible Learning Initiative (FLI) – New Cohort for 2023

The Flexible Learning Initiative (FLI) program will continue in 2023. Through this program the Vice-Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education provides funding to support instructors in the development of fully online or hybrid undergraduate courses. The program aims to increase the range of online learning opportunities at the University of Toronto while building capacity for innovative approaches to teaching and learning. Funding will be made available to teams of three instructors who will address a focus area of strategic importance to their discipline, department and/or division as they redesign a course for fully online or hybrid delivery.

Funding Range: $6,000 per instructor with maximum of $18,000 per team of 3 instructors

Funding Duration: 1 year

For more information follow the link above, or contact digital.learning@utoronto.ca.

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Data Driven Design: Quercus Analytics (D3:QA) Showcase: Making Meaning

When: Friday, October 28, 2022 at 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM  
Where: Online (Teams)
Register for this event

Are you interested in learning how instructor-accessed Quercus course data can be used to inform redesign decisions aimed at improving engagement and learner experience? Please join us for a showcase of results from a group of pioneering instructors who have been participating in the D3:QA initiative during the past academic year.   

All members of the D3:QA cohort were supported in data analysis of available Quercus Analytics exports and log files to better understand student activity patterns in Winter 2022 courses. In this showcase event, instructors from across divisions will share their path of inquiry and adaptable examples of Quercus data reports used to advance instructional design and implementation processes.   

Example topics include: 

  • Active learning: Effectiveness of scientific literacy and communication modules in a STEM course  
  • Strategic design: Assessing impact of scaffolded supplementary content resources  
  • Pinpointing learner hotspots: A closer look at formative assessment results  

Join us to learn more! 

Instructor presenters: 

  • Prof. Stavroula Andreopoulos (Temerty Faculty of Medicine)  
  • Asst. Prof. Naomi Levy-Strumpf (Faculty of Arts and Science – Human Biology)  
  • Asst. Prof. Naomi Steenhof (Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy)  
  • Asst. Prof. Chirag Variawa (Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering)  
  • Asst. Prof. Tingting Zhu (University of Toronto Mississauga – Geography, Geomatics and Environment)  
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Getting ready to “FLI” with course redesign

The Flexible Learning Initiative (FLI) is a new program funded by the Vice-Provost Innovations in Undergraduate Education to provide support to instructors in the development of fully online or hybrid undergraduate courses. The program’s aim is to increase the range of online learning opportunities at the University of Toronto while building capacity for innovative approaches to teaching and learning. A key outcome of the course design process is the availability of more flexible options that leverage online technologies to accommodate scheduling or geographic constraints while providing a rich learning experience.   

Features of the FLI include:  

  • Teams of three instructors from the same department or program that will work collaboratively to explore needs within their discipline area while re/designing their courses. 
  • A faculty development program will leverage the new Course Design for Online materials and include support for use of course data to inform design plans. 
  • Each cohorted team will address a focus area of strategic importance to their program, unit and/or division. Examples include:  
    • Equity, diversity and inclusion  
    • Experiential learning  
    • Data-informed design  
    • Other discipline specific themes  

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Digital Learning Innovation is pleased to welcome our cohort for 2022-23, which includes: 

Department of Statistical Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Science 

  • Bethany White, Statistics and Scientific Inquiry in the Life Sciences 
  • Katherine Daignault, Methods of Data Analysis I 
  • Sam Caetano, Surveys, Sampling and Observational Data 

Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering 

  • Jennifer Farmer, Physical Chemistry 
  • Daniela Galatro, Heat and Mass Transfer 
  • Lydia Wilkinson, Communication  

Department of Mathematical and Computational Sciences, University of Toronto, Mississauga 

  • Alex Rennet, Linear Algebra I* 
  • Jaimal Thind, Linear Algebra I 
  • Maria Wesslen, Linear Algebra I 

*Course to be offered in range of online and hybrid formats 

Programming begins in October 2022 with the first workshop for all participants, facilitated by Digital Learning Innovation unit team. Participants will be building upon lessons learned, and enhance course design work done, during our shift to remote/online teaching and learning during the last two years. Instructors will improve upon those courses that underwent a modality shift to remote delivery and create an intentional, high quality, ‘digital by design’ hybrid courses that meet UofT expectations for meaningful student engagement and assessment.     

Contact digital.learning@utoronto.ca for more information.  

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VLS Showcase

Are you interested in learning more about using open educational resources to increase engagement and interaction in your courses?

In the Spring of 2021 we shared news of a Virtual Learning Strategy (VLS) funding program by the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities, to expand and enrich learning through the development of open online course content, modules and textbooks.

The initiative has concluded, and these innovative projects are now available to view, adopt and adapt. Visit our Open UToronto site for a selection of these as well as previous open educational resources. We are also pleased to highlight several examples of the exceptional results in a VLS showcase event.

Join us as VLS teams from across divisions discuss highlights and showcase their content creation. Project leads will provide a brief overview of the open resource(s) they developed and participate in a Q&A period.

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When: Tuesday, June 14, 2022 at 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Where: Online (Teams)

Register now!

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IP Matters – New Resources for Students and Faculty

We are excited to share a set of open modules introducing critical elements of intellectual property (IP), developed by University of Toronto Entrepreneurship (UTE) with support from Digital Learning Innovation and the Office of the Vice-Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education. The goal of these modules is to provide education and practical resources, relevant to targeted students and faculty engaged in course and co-curricular activities that have IP implications. To date two modules are available: 

  • Module 1 – Introduction to Intellectual Property and Intellectual Property Rights
    This module covers the basics of Intellectual Property and IP rights in relation to students and faculty at the University of Toronto. 
  • Module 2 – Understanding the Value of Intellectual Property
    This module explores frameworks that explain the value of IP in a range of contexts at the University of Toronto. 

A third module with a focus on student-created intellectual property arising from curricular activities will be available soon.  

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Speaking to the resources, Jon French, Director, UTE notes: 

“These modules provide relevant insight to guide students and faculty as they navigate course and co-curricular activities with IP implications. Rich with real world scenarios, document templates and FAQs, these are tools that will educate, and also serve as a central hub of related resources to increase our collective IP literacy – a valuable skill in today’s knowledge economy.” 

Materials are available under a creative commons licence and content may be viewed online or downloaded and used in a specific course content. Resources include slides, videos, case studies, and pdfs and faculty and instructors can supplement the material as needed.  

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VLS Success Story – Demystifying Dossiers

In the Spring of 2021 we shared news of a Virtual Learning Strategy (VLS) funding program by the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities, to expand and enrich learning through development of online course content, modules and open textbooks.

As these projects come to a close we wished to highlight a few examples of the work to come out of this initiative. Our colleagues in the Teaching Assistants’ Training Program created the Developing Your Teaching Dossier series; a four-module series for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows exploring strategies to reflect on their teaching and develop their teaching dossier. The series is comprised of four 60-minute self-paced modules:

  • Module 1: Reflecting on Your Teaching Experience: An Introduction to Teaching Dossiers
  • Module 2: Articulating Your Teaching Values and Practices: Developing Your Statement of Teaching Philosophy
  • Module 3: Connecting Narratives and Evidence: Developing Components of Your Teaching Dossier
  • Module 4: Looking Ahead: Telling New Stories About Our Teaching Experiences

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The resource was co-developed with four other institutional partners—Ryerson (X) University, University of Waterloo, University of Windsor, and Western University. Of importance in this highly collaborative approach was the inclusion of graduate student and postdoctoral fellow perspectives–they became the protagonists, guides, storytellers, and mentors on this journey of reflective practice.

The team leveraged H5P, a relatively new elearning technology, in developing the interactive learning objects. Speaking with one of the project leads, Mike Kasprzak notes:

“”eCampusOntario’s H5P Studio offered the technological framing for our story about teaching dossiers. By providing a range of content types, it allowed us to design and develop an engaging, accessible and interactive learning experience for diverse users. Most importantly, it afforded a high degree of customization to anyone trying to adapt the series to their institutional programing.”

Visit the Developing Your Teaching Dossier series website to learn more. This open-access resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) License.

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Data Driven Design Quercus Analytics 2021-22

We are pleased to announce a new call for applications to the 2021-22 Data Driven Design: Quercus Analytics (D3:QA) cohort.

The D3:QA initiative examines opportunities provided by the Quercus Analytics module and related services aimed at enhancing instruction and learning experience. This mandate will be supported through activities and consultations enabling instructors to effectively use Quercus student data to make course redesign decisions.  The initiative is part of a broader program of learning analytics being coordinated by the office of the Vice-Provost, Innovations in Undergraduate Education.

Analytics Interface

Successful applicants will participate in a peer network that facilitates capacity development by extracting and making meaning of Quercus analytics. Informed by the available data, the network will also support instructors to modify an existing course, implement its redesign and reflect upon those redesign decisions and outcomes.

Read full details and apply to the Data Driven Design: Quercus Analytics program.

The deadline for applications is November 8, 2021 at 11:59 pm.

You can view the showcase and read the report from the previous D3:QA cohort on the Open UToronto website.

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EdTech Sandbox Platforms from eCampusOntario

Ontario Postsecondary Institutions connected to EdTech through space to experimentAs part of their new Virtual Learning Strategy, eCampusOntario is facilitating access to new platforms and tools for use in post-secondary courses through a “Sandbox” program. The University of Toronto successfully applied for licences for three tools that have been identified by instructors as having potential to enhance student learning. The licences are available to learners until April 2022. Instructors and learners will be invited to participate in evaluation activities to support informed planning for introduction of new educational technologies both at the University of Toronto, and in future eCampusOntario initiatives.

The tools being piloted include:

Hypothes.is (1000 licences)

This online social annotation tool allows users to annotate openly on websites, blogs, online journals, and news articles. Hypothes.is allows users in groups to share online text, resources, links, and annotations. It can be used as a private note-taking and critiquing tool or a collaborative annotation tool. Instructors from a range of disciplines and program areas have asked to pilot Hypothes.is over the next two terms.

Pivot Interactives (1000 licences)

As an alternative for virtual labs, this platform is based on interactive videos and recorded lab experiments than animations or simulations. Each activity shows actual footage of experiments taking place, giving learners opportunities to make real observations and collect real data rather than just watching a simulation. The labs cover biology, chemistry, physics, and earth science topics and can be fully customized to suit a teacher’s needs. In addition to use in the Human Biology program, Pivot Interactive labs are also being used in teacher education courses at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

Miro (1000 licences)

Instructors and students are using this is online collaborative whiteboard platform to enable teams to work effectively together, from brainstorming with digital sticky notes to planning course project activities and presentations. In addition to visual documentation and annotation tools, the platform features interactive communication tools for learners, as well as a meta-view for the instructor that allows observation of activity across all teams or a zoom in on a specific team activity. Miro is being used for design-oriented courses in architecture and engineering.

For more information contact: digital.learning@utoronto.ca.

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Experiential Project-Based learning: Riipen for Fall 2021

The Riipen platform is an on-ramp to facilitating work integrated learning experiences. Riipen helps UofT  instructors set up experiential project-based learning with community organizations and businesses by finding matches and streamlining ongoing coordination and communication between the faculty, students and partners. This initiative is unique in its focus on integrating small projects into course contexts in alignment with learning outcomes. Students receive feedback from partner organizations on their projects.

What is experiential project-based learning?

Experiential project-based learning is a teaching method that involves students designing, developing, and constructing hands-on solutions to a problem with a company or non-profit partner. Using project-based learning, students can build upon their creative capacity by working through real-world problems. The students typically work on these projects in small teams.

What is Riipen?

Riipen is a  project-based learning platform that enables students, educators, and organizations to connect through real-world industry experiences. Students acquire skills valuable in the workplace and get to build their employer network, organizations get to improve their talent pipelines and increase authentic engagement towards their brand, while instructors provide enhanced learning experiences for their students and tap new industry and community organization connections.

Access to Riipen gives UofT faculty the flexibility to embed experiential learning into courses and provides the tools for students to work as a team on real-world problems. The platform available to faculty, in all disciplines, working with all levels of students, in-class, online experiences, and remote internships. Riipen offers end-to-end support, including course project ideation and design, technical support and student onboarding, and matchmaking with industry partners globally.

Steps for Instructors to Get Started using Riipen:

  • Join the School Portal as an educator.
  • Book a call with your dedicated Account Manager to discuss if Riipen is right for you.
  • Riipen will set you up with a technical onboarding so you are comfortable with the platform and ready to connect your course.
  • Once published to our marketplace, Riipen will get to work on matching your course with the best industry partners in our network of over 10K employers.
  • You will approve the company projects that you want to pair with students.
  • The students start working on the projects on a timeline you determine.

For questions and support please contact Riipen at academicsupport@riipen.com.

For information about use of Riipen at University of Toronto please contact digital.learning@utoronto.ca.

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Innovation in Digital Learning at University of Toronto

Image of hand pointing at word "learning"The University of Toronto has received approximately $1.8M through a new Virtual Learning Strategy (VLS) funding program, targeting improved access and innovation to digital resources for Ontario students. The initiative represents a $50 million investment by the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities intended to expand and enrich learning through development of online course content, modules and open textbooks.

As we have learned during the past year, U of T has the capacity to respond to emergent needs for digital resources to address curricular activities across the disciplines. Through the VLS program additional rich learning content will be available to our own students, as well as those at other institutions across the province and beyond. The content created through his program will be shared via the eCampusOntario Library platform in February 2022, allowing others to benefit through re-use and adaptation of the resources created by our lead instructors and their collaborators.

Projects funded by the VLS program are as follows:

Project Lead Project Title Department
Frances Garrett Teaching for Student Flourishing Study of Religion, FAS
Jessica Slomka Matter in Motion: A transdisciplinary course exploring physical processes Chemical and Physical Sciences, UTM


John Hannah Supporting Academic Resilience for International Students Division of Student Life


Jessica Slomka Virtual Earth: Technology-based Earth Sciences Lab Series Chemical and Physical Sciences, UTM


Greg Evans Customizable Lab Simulations for Chemistry, Environment, and Engineering Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, FASE


Cindy Woodland, Derek Ng, Stavroula Andreopoulos A Multimedia Approach to Understanding Drug Interactions Faculty of Medicine, Pharmacology and Toxicology and Biochemistry; Dept. of Biology, UTM


Kim Mackinnon Designing for Meaningful Synchronous and Asynchronous Discussion in Online Courses Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
Kathy Trip, Jean Wilson Simulation of Gynecological Examinations Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing


Michal Kasprzak,Cristina D’Amico Developing Your Teaching Dossier: A Series of Four OER Asynchronous Online Modules Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation
Bill Ju, Franco Taverna Building a common undergraduate Neuroscience OER for broad use across the Ontario curriculum Human Biology, FAS
Erin Styles, Johanna Carroll Introductory Coding for Genomics – An Asynchronous Online Course for Life Science Student Molecular Genetics, Faculty of Medicine
Yuchong Li, Andreas Hilfinger Developing Stay-at-Home Experiment Modules for Introductory Physics Courses Department of Chemical and Physical Sciences, UTM
David Kwasny, Krystle Phirangee Digital Learning Producers Online Training UTSC Library; Centre for Teaching & Learning, UTSC
Jim Hewitt, Clare Brett An Introduction to Effective Online Teaching for Elementary and Secondary Instructors Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
Nick Eyles A country on the move: Canada’s changing landscapes Department of Physical and Environmental Science, UTSC
Erika Loney; Nadia Rosemond; Edward Al Hearn Bilingual Student Preparation Modules for Experiential Learning (French and English) Office of Student Experience & Wellbeing, UTSC; Centre for Teaching & Learning, UTSC
Shafique Virani Islam and Muslim Civilizations Online Historical Studies, UTM
Aleksandra Bjelajac Mejia Virtual Immersive Simulations to Promote Practice Readiness to Full Scope for Pharmacy and Pharmacy Technician Students: A Collaborative Approach Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy
Tom Coyle Modules to support online delivery of advanced ceramic course Department of Materials Science and Engineering, FASE
Judi Laprade Creating a digital library of 3D scanned human-anatomical prosections for allied health science education Division of Anatomy, Department of Surgery
Alexandra Motut, Essyn Emurla Teamwork Skills for Undergraduates by Rotman Commerce Centre for Professional Skills (RC-CPS) Rotman School of Management/Rotman Commerce
Laura Dempster Preparing Tomorrow’s Clinician’s with TeleOralHealth Faculty of Dentistry
Fiona Rawle Arrival Activities for Student Engagement – an Open Educational Resource Dept of Biology, UTM
Vivienne Luk The Language of Forensics Forensic Science Program, UTM


Fiona Rawle Humanizing Online Teaching and Learning: An Instructor Guide and Training Module Dept of Biology, UTM
Karen Smith, Oya Mercan Engineering in a Changing Climate – A Transdisciplinary Workshop Series for Engineering and Climate Science Students Department of Physical & Environmental Sciences UTSC
Stella Ng, Nicole Woods Advancing the CACE Homecare Curriculum Speech-Language Pathology; Dept of Family and Community Medicine
Essyn Emurla, Alexandra Motut Effective Virtual Communication and Presentations by Rotman Commerce Centre for Professional Skills Rotman School of Management/Rotman Commerce
Jon French IP Education Program Level 1 – Patenting Strategies UofT Entrepreneurship, VPRI
Jon French IP Education Program – Level 2 – Patenting Strategies UofT Entrepreneurship, VPRI
Helen Tran STEM Education <> Design Thinking Chemistry, FAS

For more information on support for VLS projects contact digital.learning@utoronto.ca.

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