Catching up with Education Commons during OISE Wellness Day

By Nathan Christie, Communication Coordinator at Education Commons
March 30, 2023
The fine folks who work at OISE Education Commons. Taken during OISE Wellness Day on March 8, 2023.
The Education Commons team on OISE Wellness Day 2023.

March 8th, 2023 was OISE Wellness Day. In recognition, the entire Education Commons department at OISE took the opportunity to gather in-person and learn from each other, taking time for self-care and team-building. Here’s what we achieved together!

Bringing the team together for collaborative fun

First, the team took time to get to know each other through team-building games and activities. With many new colleagues joining over the winter, and team members working in a hybrid setup, having the opportunity for face-to-face conversation (and games!) was certainly not wasted.

Indeed, these games and activities aren’t simply for fun. They help us build collaboration and encourage us to learn more about each other – some of the values we embody in our strategic plan. And to help ensure it all ran smoothly, Education Commons’ own Social Committee led and moderated the games while organizing the schedule for the rest of the day.

Education Commons team participating in some team-building games during OISE Wellness Day
Led by our Social Committee, Education Commons participates in a fun team-building exercise during OISE Wellness Day!

OISE Wellness Day was a great chance for newer colleagues to learn more about OISE, the building, and, of course, the community. Once the team-building games were finished, the entire Education Commons team soon moved on to other activities that brought the team together in learning and collaboration.

Understanding new technologies that can assist the OISE community 

The different components of the Meet Anywhere Kit, from left to right: table stand, USB A-C cable, plug-and-play camera, travel case, and speakerphone
Components of the Meet Anywhere Kit, from left to right: table stand, USB A-C cable, 180-degree panoramic 4K camera, travel case, and speakerphone.

Next, Education Commons took the time to learn from our experts about the technologies that support OISE faculty, staff, and students in enabling innovative pedagogy, especially in hybrid learning environments. 

Besides technologies you may have already seen, like the Zoom Kick Stand and DAZEE, we also are testing amazing new technologies like the Meet Anywhere Kit, which can convert any space into a hybrid space. It includes an intuitive speakerphone that can pick up audio from across the room, having a built-in speaker for full room audio coverage. 

The Kit also includes a 180-degree panoramic 4K camera, which can automatically focus on who is speaking and follow them as they move. Ideal for when you have multiple speakers in classrooms, presentations, and meetings – or one speaker who just likes to move around! And since the Kit comes complete with a table stand and a travel case, it will be easy for community members to pack up, carry from room to room, and set up again! 

The Meeting Owl Pro being displayed, with OISE Education Commons' Communication Coordinator, Nathan Christie, shown in the accompanying TV monitor.
Demonstration of the Owl, a 360-degree microphone, speaker, and camera that’s a helpful presence in hybrid-focused classrooms, meetings, and events at OISE. Feathers not included. 

Also coming soon is the Meeting Owl 3, the latest version of the 360-degree microphone, speaker, and camera that you may have already seen around OISE. This Owl can readily include remote participants in hybrid events just like the current version, but with added features that improve its connectivity, microphone range, and accessibility. 

As the entire Educations Commons team learned more about these new technologies, we discussed ways to champion these technologies and how we can best pass this knowledge on to you. Members of the OISE community can expect instructive webinars, live demonstrations, and other informational communications centred on using these devices – please stay tuned!

If you are interested in learning more about the devices and what they will do, please contact Education Commons via the Online Service Hub!

Touring through OISE’s IT infrastructure 

Just as we learn about new technologies and their capabilities, it is also vital for the team to understand the legacy technologies that keep OISE digital services running. That’s why we took time during our Wellness Day to tour OISE’s server room, which houses critical IT infrastructure.  

Server room demonstration led by OISE Education Commons' Associate Director of Digital Products & System Architecture, Bernie Spudic. Bernie is pointing toward a server cabinet with Full Stack Developer Bahman Yaghoobi looking on.
Bernie Spudic, Associate Director of Digital Products & System Architecture at Education Commons, gives a history lesson to the team in OISE’s server room.

By learning more about this infrastructure from the System Administration team at Education Commons – who do great work in securing and maintaining this infrastructure – we become a more robust team that can flexibly respond to challenges (such as power outages!) that risk the OISE community’s digital experience. 

And it gives us the context that lets us create more proactive solutions that will benefit the community. These solutions take the form of migrating legacy website content to the new Drupal-based site and backing up OISE’s data to secure cloud-based platforms, all-the-while protecting your digital information and becoming more environmentally friendly in the process. Expect more news on these projects in the coming year as we progress through this important work! 

Recognizing our team members during International Women’s Day 

March 8th was also International Women’s Day, celebrating the achievements and impact of women around the world. Here at OISE, we at Education Commons recognized the hard work and achievements of the women on our team.

The women of Education Commons holding flowers and standing in front of the Education Commons sign on the third floor.
The women who make an incredible impact at Education Commons, from left to right: Julia Duncan, Director of Education Commons; Sarah Sami, Junior Web Application Developer; Laize Bacay; Technology Adoption Consultant; and Andrea Zdzylowski, Technology Adoption Consultant.

Such recognition is vital, especially given our line of work. According to the most recent report on “where women are and are not in the information technology industry” from the nonprofit Women in Communications and Technology, women are still underrepresented in Canada’s information communications technology (ICT) sector, making up just under a third of the workforce in 2021.

As Education Commons enables the OISE community with IT services and solutions, we also have a responsibility to ensure our environment is open for everyone, no matter a person’s gender identity. It’s part of our strategic plan to build a welcoming, inviting and collaborative Education Commons space for all. By doing so, we will unlock the potential to do even more! 

Supporting our team members’ efforts to inspire literacy 

Each team member working at Education Commons is talented and inspiring in their own, distinct way. OISE Wellness Day gives an opportunity to reinforce that belief – supporting and enabling our team members as they pursue goals they find meaningful and enriching. 

Education Commons comes together for Ryan Lahti's book signing on the third floor.
The Education Commons team gathers for the book signing of Davidee Goes to the Arctic Winter Games in support of Ryan.

And so, we took a moment to celebrate a huge accomplishment from Ryan Lahti, one of our Technology Adoption Consultants. Ryan recently published his first children’s book, Davidee Goes to the Arctic Winter Games, where the titular character soon learns being a teammate more than just showing up for hockey practice!

Just as Davidee recognizes the value of supporting his team, the Education Commons team and other community members at OISE came out to support Ryan, putting together and attending a special book signing recognizing the value of literacy 

In case you missed the signing, don’t worry! You can get your copy of Davidee Goes to the Arctic Winter Games by visiting the website of the book’s Nunvaut-based publisher, Inhabit Education Books.

OISE Education Commons Technology Adoption Consultant Ryan Lahti holds up a copy of his book, Davidee Goes to the Arctic Winter Games, with OISE's Tessa Barclay from the Chief Administrative Office.
Education Commons team member (and author!) Ryan Lahti, holding a copy of his recently published children’s book, Davidee Goes to the Arctic Winter Games, with Tess Barclay, Executive Coordinator in the Office of the Chief Executive Officer at OISE.


As a successful OISE Wellness Day ended, we all looked forward to the next time we could get together and learn from one another. The team spirit fostered here will persist through our work supporting OISE with innovative and forward-facing digital solutions! 

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