I was one of four recipients of the University of Prince Edward Island‘s prestigious Hessian Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2016. As a sessional instructor who teaches mandatory and often online courses, I was particular pleased to receive an award that is dependent on positive student, peer, and supervisory evaluations.

I am a career educator with extensive teaching and facilitation experience in higher ed and in professional contexts. I am also a trained K-12 teacher, with both a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) (primary and secondary-certified) and a Certificate in Special Education.

After teaching in a K-12 setting in the Arctic, in an Inuit community school, I embarked on my Master of Arts in Education (M.A.Ed), focusing on literacies and Educational Foundations. During my first year of Masters’ study, I taught for Nova Scotia Community College, and then began working as a Distance & Open Learning coordinator and a sessional instructor at Mount Saint Vincent University. I received my M.A.Ed in 2000, then taught in universities in Asia and Europe before re-patriating to PEI in 2005. I’ve worked and taught for the University of Prince Edward Island since, and was one of the two inaugural graduates of UPEI’s first Ph.D in Educational Studies in 2015. My focus was networked scholarship, or the intersection of higher education and digital practices.

I have taught online since 1998. Initially, I instructed faculty in how to teach online, then began using Learning Management Systems (LMS) to facilitate and supplement my own courses. I have worked with Jones, Blackboard, WebCT, Moodle, and Canvas platforms over the years, and was the first instructor at UPEI to use Moodle, the LMS the campus eventually adopted. I believe that LMS platforms should be approached as starting points for institutional online learning, but it is important to me that my courses exceed the container of the LMS and build learners’ digital and media literacies with hands-on experience in open blogging and use (and analysis/assessment) of relevant social media platforms.

Where situations allow, I prefer to teach hybrid courses, wherein face-to-face and online capacities and affordances can be maximized for learning and engagement. However, my fully online courses emphasize social presence and teaching presence as well as cognitive presence, using the Community of Inquiry model, and my teaching evaluations are consistently excellent.

2015 & 2016 – Network Track + Digital Literacies Track, Digital Pedagogies Lab. Intensive professional development institute in digital pedagogy. University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI / American University of Cairo, Cairo, Egypt / University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PE.

2015-2017  – The Adult Learner. Bachelor of Education and Certificate in Adult Education course on andragogy and adult teaching, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PE.

2014 & 2015 – Technology: Leadership in Learning. Masters of Education course in 21st century skills and educational leadership. University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PE.

2014 – Communications in Education. Bachelor of Education course in verbal, non-verbal, visual and networked communications skills for classroom and professional learning, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PE.

2012 – Technologies in Education. Bachelor of Education course in critical and practical approaches to educational technologies, digital literacies, and participatory learning, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PE.

2012 – Building a Culture for Reading in a Digital Age. Masters of Education course in digital literacies and emerging principles and practices surrounding reading and youth, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PE.

2012 – Integrated Foundations of Education. Bachelor of Education course in history, politics, philosophy and sociology of education, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PE.

2009 & 2010 – Introduction to Academic Writing. Introductory academic writing course for English as an Additional Language students, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PE.

2007 – Professional English Writing for Academics. Written communications course for English as an Additional Language faculty members, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PE.

2005 & 2006 – Foundations of Literacy Learning I and II. Masters of Education course in literacy education and sociocultural practices, Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, NS.

2005 – Introduction to Academic Writing. Introductory academic writing course, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PE.

2002-2004 – Introduction to Reading. English as an Additional Language critical reading courses, Hannam University, Daejeon Korea.

2002-2004 – Academic Writing. English as an Additional Language academic writing courses, Hannam University, Daejeon Korea.

2002 – Academic Reading, Critical Reading, and Academic Writing. College preparatory reading and writing courses, City University of Bellevue Washington, Bratislava, Slovakia.

2001 – Academic Writing. English as an Additional Language academic writing and communications courses, Pusan University of Foreign Studies, Busan, South Korea.

1998 & 1999 – Media & Technology Literacies. Bachelor of Education course on critical approaches to media and technologies education, Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, NS.

1997 & 1998 – Adult Upgrading (GED) program in English communication, sciences, and math; assessment of prior learning equivalencies (PLAR) and supervision of job placements, Nova Scotia Community College, Halifax, NS.

In the summer of 2012, I designed and taught a Masters of Education (M.Ed) course entitled Building a Culture for Reading in a Digital Age (Ed 673), for the University of Prince Edward Island.

While I had taught at the Masters level previously, and been engaged in curriculum design since 2004, this was a key opportunity for me to synthesize my emerging expertise in digital technologies and education with my own humanities background as a student of literature.

The UPEI Faculty of Education approached me to design and facilitate the course in full, with only broad strokes parameters to guide me. While this inaugural offering was structured as a five-day intensive full credit Summer Institute course, the Faculty acknowledge that future iterations would likely be full-term online-only offerings. As a result, my curriculum design needed to incorporate flexibility of delivery wherever possible.

The course was also aimed at a dual audience: students in the newly-designated Graduate Certificate in School Librarianship as well as students in the Master of Education program. I therefore needed to ensure that the course materials, assignments, and discussion approached the concept of ‘reading’ from a broad and inclusive range of perspectives so that learners were able to build meaningfully on pre-existing knowledge across multiple professional and disciplinary contexts.

The course design and delivery process required me to successfully:

  • survey, investigate, and synthesize educational literature and best practices on reading, literacies, and building a culture for reading within both library and classroom contexts
  • research, synthesize and frame the idea of “The Digital Age” for educators, highlighting key implications for education and learning, as well as key lessons from the Digital Humanities and other emergent
  • design a participatory, collaborative, coherent curriculum with Masters-level rigour
  • facilitate a practical yet highly conceptual course with a diverse group of educators
  • design a detailed and partially-collaborative assessment structure for the course
  • consider ways to learn from the evaluations and improve the course for next time

a) The Syllabus
The syllabus linked here outlines the basic intended structure, materials, schedule, and evaluation schema for a hybrid five-day Masters-level course, in which learners and facilitator would be together in the classroom for five full days, with additional learning, connection, and reflection taking place online both before, during and after the course.

The goals of the course were to unpack and explore three things:
1. reading and literacies and the educational and social contexts surrounding them
2. “The Digital Age” itself
3. our cultural assumptions about both.

As the course was intensive and the content in part about supporting reading within a digital, participatory culture, the course itself was designed to scaffold and support participation in the digital sphere as well as in class. Both a closed Learning Management System (Moodle) and open, public platforms (Twitter, contributions to blog comments) were incorporated into the assignments, though the course was so short that the learning curve for new literacies and practices could only be pointed to, rather than fully scaled.

In collecting and curating the readings for the course, I attempted to ensure that traditional essays and more informal blog-style posts were part of the curriculum. I also wrote assigned blog posts to synthesize key points and invite public conversation wherein students and my broader network could intersect and discuss issues central to the course. While in a five-day course, capacity for this type of sustained network-building was limited, I have continued to interact online with many of the students since the end of the course. Their continued engagement with me and with ideas we touched on suggests that the participatory focus of our work had some impact, and that they are beginning to perceive themselves – as learners and teachers – in digital age terms.

b) The Teaching Evaluations
Teaching evaluations at the University of Prince Edward Island are comprised of eleven statements about the course, each of which is scored on a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). Maximum score on any of the 11 points is 5.0.

My Ed 673 students rated my performance very highly:

1. Organization – 5.0
2. Clear communications of course content – 4.9
3. Appropriate evaluation – 4.7
4. Enthusiasm – 5.0
5. Concern about student learning – 5.0
6. Overall Effectiveness – 5.0
7. Made links between educational theory, research and practice – 4.9
8. Provided useful feedback – 4.8
9. Used a variety of learning activities – 4.8
10. Encouraged critique of various perspectives – 4.9
11. Set high expectations – 4.9