Our Progress Towards Strategic Goals – Year 2

Education Commons as a community partner, enabler and digital leader, is committed to excellence and making a difference for the OISE community. We are currently completing the second year of our three year strategic plan Rethinking Education Commons: Building Strategic Priorities which guides us and aligns our efforts to put this commitment into real action. 

As we come to the end of the 2021-2022 academic year, we are pleased to report our progress towards meeting our strategic goals.

Becoming a Community Partner: 8 of our 10 goals have been met.
Enabler of innovative pedagogy: all 10 of our 10 goals have been met.
Digital leadership in research and scholarship: 6 of our 10 goals have been met.
Environment and wellbeing: all 5 of our 5 goals have been met.

Read below for detailed information on our progress in year two.

Year 1: 4 out of 10 goals.
Year 2: 8 out of 10 goals

Establishing Advisory

Work has begun on building the terms of reference for the advisory with a plan to run the fist gathering late Fall 2022.

Renewed focus on customer service

Last year we began adopting inTune for an enhanced experience for our community and the computers they use. inTune is now adopted for all new computers under the CRP (Computer Renewal Program). This adoption allows for a quicker turn around in preparing computers for community use and its ongoing management and maintenance which provides higher productivity for our community members.

Building welcoming Education Commons space

Education Commons physical spaces are on track for a complete rethinking and redesign in 2022. Renovations are scheduled to begin in late Summer 2022. We cannot wait to share with you how welcoming our new space is going to be for all!

Transform through predictive analytics and AI augmentation

We are making small steps in utilizing technology in different ways for service delivery. Our online service hub, powered by SysAid is the first example in how we utilize automation with a potential to do much better. Currently, we’ve built some keyword automations in how incoming requests are being assigned to various Education Commons expertise groups in order to carry out requests faster.

We are currently exploring the application of chatbots to see the value in a more superior service delivery to our community.

Continual talent development

Education Commons experts are strategically attending hands on labs, formal training on the subject matter expertise that is relevant to the current priorities. In the last 12 months some of the most notable professional development opportunities included:

    • Project management training by Global Knowledge
    • Leading Data driven organizations training by Stanford Continuing studies
    • Developing apps with security in mind: An introduction to OWASP top 10, hands on labs by Educause
    • Designing hybrid flexible (HyFlex) courses to support multimodal learning environment by Educause
    • Laravel livewire for app development, tutorials
    • Gartner CSO and Sales leader conference
    • Drupal conference coming up in July
    • Online labs by PluralSight on a variety of IT topics, such as cloud services, app development
    • Educause Young Professionals Advisory Committee

Education Commons presence in the community

We continue to build on our strategies from last year of holding an EC Open House and participating in Open House and OISE events. In addition to that, we have held our first Faculty Orientation at OISE. We are planning to hold these three times a year – April, August and November. We hope to see our faculty members there!

Culture of continual improvement

Whilst we are yet to formally adopt continual improvement model of “Plan/Do/Check/Act”, our approach so far has been to run surveys after engagements such as the Open House, and request input on service catalogue categories and newsletter format for the purposes of seeking continual improvement. As we mature the adoption of various best practices, we look into the next year for a more practical implementation of the PDCA model.

Enhance Communication Channels

Our most important channel of communicating with our community is our newsletter. As we ran it for a year now and looked to the community to help us understand how we can make it even better, we heard that we can change its format. The new format for our newsletter is coming in Fall 2022 along with a new EC website, redesigned in the new OISE web platform – Drupal.

Year 1: 5 out of 10 goals
Year 2: 10 out of 10 goals

Establishing Advisory

Work has begun on building the terms of reference for the advisory with a plan to run the first gathering late Fall 2022

Pedagogical technology that is fit for use and fit for purpose

The Google Workspace for Education Project was developed to support teacher candidates in the Master of Teaching (MT) and the Master of Arts in Child Study and Education (MA-CSE) programs. This project was completed in the winter term of 2022. Education Commons currently provides access to Google Workspace for Education to support teacher education beyond a student’s practicum time at school boards. Students, staff and faculty associated with teacher education programs at OISE have access to all of Google’s great tools.

Champion technology integration into teaching and learning

In support of continued online learning, Education Commons has begun providing the virtual computer lab for students and faculty at OISE. Virtual lab provides access to software and the ability to hold labs and classes using online tools.

Education Commons established a laptop loaner program to support OISE students.

Represent OISE at higher Ed gatherings

Education Commons presented at IT@UofT to showcase work done on digital accessibility at OISE.

System approach: Feasibility studies, pilots and proof of concepts

Virtual Reality is being explored for use in Education while seeking collaboration from the OISE faculty members.

Drupal as a web content management system was adopted and is in a process of being implemented after working through a proof of concept on a smaller scale.

Technologies like OWL, Zoom kic stand and a telepresence robot are being tested and piloted within various departments at OISE in order to enable hybrid work, while trying out various scenarios and use cases.

Trial of virtual reception for ROSE and Education Commons is underway.

Equity of access to technology and learning opportunities

Education Commons continues to seek out mechanisms that allow regular computer donations to OISE supported communities in need as well as OISE students. Over 80 computers were donated to those in most need of technology in the last year.

Champion of new and emerging technology

Education Commons was first at U of T to try the new Zoom Events platform. It was used as a pilot with the Graduate Student Research Conference with much success and is now a platform used throughout OISE for events like open houses, online conferences and various online gatherings.

Enable pedagogical use of technology

Our technology adoption consultants, Laize, Andrea and Ryan have run online workshops, training sessions, drop-ins, provided recordings on YouTube and offered one-on-one consultations as part of technology adoption strategies.

Facilitate removal of barriers to learning with the use of technology

From loaner laptop program for OISE students, to virtual and physical computer labs, access to free software, computer donations and exploration of new technologies such as OWL and DAZEE (telepresence robot), we provide tools that may serve as opportunities for the removal of potential barriers to learning.

Best practices to enable digital accessibility

In year 1, we developed comprehensive resources on digital accessibility, from producing accessible documents, to developing accessible apps. In year 2, we have adopted these resources and imbedded best practices in the OISE Drupal template that is being used for the OISE web development that provides AODA compliance and a much better experience for all abilities.

Year 1: 2 out of 10
Year 2: 6 out of 10

Leadership in best practice for efficiencies, sustainability and accountability

Zoom security best practice is established to ensure online gatherings are free from “Zoom bombings” and other unwanted situations.

OISE technical web standards are established to achieve better user experience as they navigate our websites and ensure efficiencies through a level of standardization for repeatable components.

Industry standards for managing incidents and IT related changes are being adopted in a form of a formal, documented process, and its adoption in the service management tool to allow for higher levels of accountability and subsequent community experience with information technology.

Collaboration and economies of scale

Education Commons partnered with U of T ACT department for the purposes of improving the sustainability of the university widely used resource while leveraging centrally provisioned infrastructure for service continuity.

Roadmap to cloud

OISE web presence is moving to the cloud for service efficiencies, sustainability and service continuity. Roadmap for OISE web presence migration to Drupal and cloud hosting is scheduled from May 2022 to December 2023.

OISE custom built applications are now developed using app services to leverage modern technologies for service continuity, better user experience, supportability and sustainable way of managing the applications.

OISE digital products and roadmap to continual improvement

OISE IT infrastructure has undergone a fulsome inventory, documentation and a roadmap. A series of projects have been created to move various digital assets towards their final destination of the established roadmap: re-write in the cloud; move to the cloud; upgrade of the system; new solution for existing functionality; retirement or decommissioning. The OISE digital footprint is therefore being reduced by removing no longer active pieces of infrastructure.

Focus in differentiating and minimization of duplication

Education Commons collaborated with OISE researchers on three CFI (Canadian Foundation for Innovation) research projects, produced a mobile app, and custom built tools to enable collection and retention of the community generated knowledge. We also used immersive technology such as IglooVision to enable Indigenous ways of knowing in the physical classroom.

Education Commons also collaborated with several researchers on their SSHRC (Tri Council) research projects to establish knowledge mobilization mechanisms.

System approach to tech adoption for sustainability, repeatability and predictability

Technical standards have been established for OISE information technology infrastructure to ensure economies of scale, sustainable operation, fiscal responsibility, service continuity and technological evergreening (technological currency) that provides OISE community with the overall confidence of information technology integrity.

Year 1: 3 out of 5
Year 2: 5 out of 5

Process optimization through digitization

We continue to digitize various processes using tools like JotForm and DocuSign. We have also begun work on automating specific work that is currently being done in multiple spreadsheets into an online application for one of the OISE departments. The process involved our technology adoption consultant, Laize, who worked with the department to understan, document and map the current process in order to find ways to optimize it, and then identify an approach to automation. As we develop this new application, we look for ways to interconnect various systems to ensure the most optimal access to information and its automation as we look ahead.

Influence workplace practices for work flexibility

Tools like SharePoint and now OWL provide the OISE community with the ability to find new efficiencies in their workplace practices – storing and sharing documents digitally (SharePoint) and holding hybrid meetings while providing superior experience for all participants (OWL).

Mobilize green IT practices

We continue strengthening practices we’ve established last year by adopting cloud services and following the established roadmap for our systems which allows us to reduce our digital footprint. Our server infrastructure has been reduced by one third and we plan to move the entire OISE web presence to the cloud by the end of 2023. This will allow us to remove physical infrastructure from the OISE building and reduce the consumption of resources such as electricity.

Tech tools for emotional and physical wellbeing

This spring, we’ve tried the Pacer app to create a wellness challenge at Education Commons which gained some interest with several OISE departments such as the CAO office, Deans Office, ROSE and a few individuals from other departments. This allowed us to create some healthy competition, make some good amount of steps, cheer each other, stay connected and have a lot of fun!

Appropriate allocation of human and financial resources

Education Commons talent and expertise has been aligned to the strategic priorities and this report to the community, of what we have achieved so far, is an indication of our capabilities, dedication and care for the OISE community