Welcome to the October 2020 issue of ‘Innovatus’

Innovatus featured image

Innovatus featured image

Welcome to the October 2020 issue of Innovatus, a special issue of YFile that is devoted to teaching and learning innovation at York University.

Will Gage
Will Gage

Last year at this time, few of us would have imagined how drastically our world would change. We are now entrenched in our “new normal.” I am so impressed by the dedication and commitment that each one of our faculty members has shown to our students. The York University community is leading by example. We are focused on creating a positive learning experience for our students while still being mindful of the challenges posed by online learning.

This issue of Innovatus focuses on faculty who are working to make first-year courses engaging and fulfilling for our students. The commitment to fostering this group of intrepid, committed learners is outstanding. When we put out the call for candidates for this issue, we were overwhelmed with suggestions. The limitations of space unfortunately required that we pick just a handful from the many names and profiles we reviewed. It was a challenging endeavour because the candidates were simply amazing.

This leads me to have great hope that as we all come out of our homes and home offices into post-pandemic life, the thousands of students at York University will lead the way as changemakers. They will be dedicated to solving local, national and international issues for the betterment of humanity and our planet. Hope is what we need right now, and it is evident in the five articles offered in this issue of Innovatus.

Thank you for the many wonderful comments about our September issue. Please continue to contact me with your ideas, classroom innovations and thoughts about teaching, learning and the student experience.

Featured in the October 2020 issue of Innovatus

‘Family first’ is mathematician’s approach to teaching
For Jude Kong, an assistant professor in York University’s Department of Mathematics & Statistics in the Faculty of Science, the secret to successful teaching is creating a caring, trusting environment for students. Kong works to create trust and demonstrate that, simply because he is a professor, he isn’t unreachable or far above his students. His commitment to treating students as equals has enriched their online learning. Read more here.

Health studies professor rises to the dual challenges of new course and online delivery
It would be easy to be a bit apprehensive about the prospect of teaching an unfamiliar, large lecture course, but throw remote delivery into the mix and the prospect could be daunting. Not to Leeat Granek, associate professor in the School of Health Policy & Management in the Faculty of Health, she simply dug in and devoted myriad hours to ensuring the course was engaging and informative. Read more here.

Lassonde team reinvents Renaissance engineering course
Four faculty members from the Lassonde School of Engineering are working together to teach a core first-year Renaissance engineering course. Each faculty member brings their own unique expertise to the course, which is delivered online. The team views the first-year course holistically so they can be sure that students are set up for long-standing success as future changemakers in University and beyond. Read more here.

Introduction to Microeconomics makes a splash online
Introductory economics courses at York University have been redesigned by an eight-member team led by Gordana Colby, an assistant professor who is the Department of Economics’ first teaching-stream faculty member, and Avi Cohen, a University Professor and early adopter of online technology. The result is an engaging, robust learning community that just happens to be online. Read more here.

Professor offers engaging first-year environmental science course
For her first-year course, Gail Fraser, a professor in York’s new Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change, records her weekly lectures, which are delivered in chunks so that students can watch pieces at various times or sit through an entire lecture at once. She also makes use of a variety of online teaching aids that are designed to make the course content engaging and interactive for York students. Read more here.

Innovatus is produced by the Office of the Associate Vice-President Teaching & Learning in partnership with Communications & Public Affairs.

In closing, I extend a personal invitation to you to share your experiences in teaching, learning, internationalization and the student experience through the Innovatus story form, which is available at tl.apps01.yorku.ca/machform/view.php?id=16573.


Will Gage
Associate Vice-President Teaching & Learning