Put your creativity to work in the classroom, scholarship

Featured image for the Academic Innovation Fund call

By Elaine Smith

York University’s Academic Innovation Fund (AIF) is now accepting 2023 grant applications and Will Gage, associate vice-president, teaching and learning, encourages faculty to put their creative ideas to work.

Will Gage
Will Gage

The Academic Innovation Fund, which first awarded grants in 2011, supports projects that advance York University’s priorities in terms of teaching, learning and the student experience. It offers opportunities to pilot, develop and test curricular or pedagogical innovations that support eLearning, experiential education (EE), student success and retention strategies and internationalization within the curriculum. Grants also support the scholarship of teaching and learning.

This year, once again, it will give priority to projects that support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a way of reflecting York’s longstanding commitment to building a more sustainable and just future, as noted in the University Academic Plan.

“For 2022, we set the expectation that 30 per cent of our funding would go toward projects that reflected the SDGs, but, in fact, 100 per cent of our Category I applications related to at least one SDG, while 92 per cent touched on two or more and 75 per cent addressed three or more,” says Gage. “People see the value of building the SDGs into their projects.”

Phase IV of AIF funding offers three categories of grants:

  • Category I funding will support initiatives of schools, departments and/or Faculties to strategically embed one or more of the four indicated institutional priorities – eLearning, experiential education (EE), student success and retention strategies and internationalization within the curriculum – in undergraduate or graduate degrees; 
  • Category II A funding will support curricular innovation projects;
  • Category II B will support curricular innovation – innovative course prototyping; and 
  • Category III funding will support scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) projects focused on 21st century learning.

Gage anticipates seeing projects that take equity and decolonization into consideration, as well as those providing opportunities for globally networked learning, which was first introduced as a result of a 2015-16 AIF grant.

“GNL is a good mechanism to support internationalization without the extra costs of studying abroad,” he said.

He also expects to receive applications that reflect technologically enhanced or “entangled” learning. (Learn more about entangled pedagogy.)

“Pedagogy always comes first in considering how to teach, but the role of technology today is not just to enhance, but to enable certain aspects of teaching,” Gage said. “We are now at the point where newer technologies enable you to teach differently, whether that’s by using peer assessment using a tech platform such as KRITIK or using augmented or virtual reality to do a simulation. You are able to connect people in ways that couldn’t happen without technology.”

AIF proposals must be submitted to the dean of your Faculty for review and ranking. Each Faculty has its own deadlines, but the ranked packages will be forwarded to the AVP, Teaching & Learning on Feb. 17, 2023. To assist interested faculty, the Office of the AVP, Teaching and Learning and the Teaching Commons will be offering a series of workshops to help develop AIF applications. Stay tuned to the AIF website.

“AIF continues to be a demonstration of the commitment York University has to teaching and learning and to enhancing the experiences of our students and faculty,” said Gage.