COVID-19 transmission higher in households than workplaces, schools or community

COVID pandemic facemask

New research out of York University has found the transmission of COVID-19 is much higher in households than in workplaces, schools or the community, as the potential for prolonged contact with infected people is greater in the home.

The researchers looked at testing rates and turnaround times, vaccine efficacy, coverage and transmission, waning immunity, and public health measures under various lockdown, reopening and resurgence scenarios – from March to December 2020 – to find the best global vaccination strategies to control COVID-19 outbreaks.

They found testing helped mitigate transmission between members of the same household if results were available within the first 24 hours. PCR testing was widely available during this time, which is more sensitive than the current rapid tests, although the researchers believe even this testing is likely to help to curb transmission between family members. Ideally, public health resources would be available for PCR testing.

Huaiping Zhu
Huaiping Zhu

“Although vaccination helped decrease virus transmission, testing remains an important tool for virus containment as it allows people to isolate sooner,” says York University Professor Huaiping Zhu of York University’s Canadian Centre for Disease Modelling in the Faculty of Science and the corresponding author.

The study also looked at what percentage of the population needs to be vaccinated based on the level of immunity to the virus in the community. To control COVID-19 infections when there is waning immunity, 90 per cent of the public needs to be vaccinated. If waning immunity isn’t an issue, only 60 per cent of the population needs to be vaccinated with a vaccine that is at least 70 per cent effective.

Waning immunity could be an issue now heading into winter as recent uptake for booster shots, particularly the bivalent, has been low.

The research team, including lead authors York postdoctoral Fellows Elena Aruffo and Pei Yuan, found short immunity times coupled with an early relaxation of non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as mask wearing and isolation, are key drivers for disease resurgence.

“High vaccination rates help delay a re-emergence of infection and give public health time to implement new measures. However, even with widespread vaccination, if we are in a high transmission phase of the virus, either most symptomatic people need to be tested or a short testing turnaround time is needed,” says Zhu, director of the NSERC-PHAC One Health Modelling Network OMNI.

Vaccine efficacy and distribution, waning immunity and public health measures all play a role in the degree of virus transmission.

“How quickly immunity wanes after vaccination could dictate how the vaccine is best rolled out,” says Zhu. “If immunity lasts a long time, then a fast distribution of vaccine is most beneficial, whereas if the immunity time is short, a slower distribution is more effective as everyone won’t become susceptible at the same time.”

The research team’s model is based on Toronto case data, but can be applied to any region.

The paper, “Community structured model for vaccine strategies to control COVID19 spread: a mathematical study,” published in the journal PLOS ONE, is a collaboration between York University, Toronto Public Health and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Zhu says more research is needed to better understand the implications of waning immunity.

The research was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Canadian COVID-19 Math Modelling Task Force, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the York Research Chair Program.

Global Strategy Lab awarded $8.7M to create AMR Policy Accelerator


Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the greatest threats humanity faces today. Decades of use, overuse and misuse of antimicrobials in animals and humans has led to the development of bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites that no longer respond to lifesaving antimicrobial medicines.

Now a new $8.7-million initiative, based at the Global Strategy Lab at York University, will bridge science and policy to support evidence-informed AMR policymaking around the world. This initiative is led by York Professors Steven J. Hoffman and Susan Rogers Van Katwyk with support from leading York University researchers Professors Mathieu Poirier, Adrian Viens, Tarra Penny and University of Ottawa Professor Patrick Fafard.

The AMR Policy Accelerator is designed to advise the world’s governments, public health institutions and decision-makers on effective and equitable policies to ensure sustainable antimicrobial use for everyone. The AMR Policy Accelerator will undertake rigorous research, develop practical resources and tailor custom advisory services to comprehensively support equitable, evidence-informed policymaking on antimicrobial resistance at the national and global levels.

This initiative has been awarded $8.7 million from the Wellcome Trust, a leading charitable foundation that supports science to solve the urgent health issues facing everyone. To find out more about the AMR Policy Accelerator, visit

About the Global Strategy Lab: Using an intensely interdisciplinary approach, GSL undertakes innovative research to advise governments and public health organizations on how to design laws, policies and institutions that address transnational health threats and make the world a healthier place for everyone.

Based at York University and the University of Ottawa, GSL’s research division focuses on three streams: antimicrobial resistance, global legal epidemiology and public health institutions. GSL’s policy division provides specialized evidence-based advisory services to governments and civil society organizations. For more information, visit

Clare Hutchinson appointed inaugural Power Corporation of Canada Distinguished Fellowship


La version française suit la version anglaise.

The Glendon School of Public and International Affairs has announced the appointment of Clare Hutchinson as the inaugural Power Corporation of Canada Distinguished Fellowship for 2022-23.

The fellowship recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to public policy through leadership, service, mentorship and high-impact research.

Clare Hutchinson
Clare Hutchinson

From 2018-21, Hutchinson was appointed as NATO secretary-general special representative for women, peace and security, high-level focal point on children and armed conflict and head of the NATO Human Security Unit. Previously, she worked as a senior gender advisor with the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping where she spearheaded the strategic development of gender policies, strategies and capacity building for over a decade. She has also deployed as gender advisor to numerous UN peacekeeping missions around the world.

Prior to working with the UN, Hutchinson was a communications and public relations expert, with a focus on mitigating risk and disaster for governmental and non-governmental organizations.

Hutchinson was born and educated in Newcastle Upon Tyne, U.K., obtaining an MA in international relations and MRes from the University of Newcastle, U.K. and a BA from Coventry University. She also studied drama and stage design at the Newcastle College of Arts and Technology. She is a dual Canadian/U.K. citizen, residing in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Hutchinson is a “Women Leader for Peace” as part of the International Leadership Association, and a mentor for the Women in International Security for Eastern Partnership Program.

Mme Clare Hutchinson est la récipiendaire de la bourse inaugurale de recherche émérite de Power Corporation du Canada en 2022-2023

L’École d’affaires publiques et internationales de Glendon est heureuse d’annoncer la nomination de Mme Clare Hutchinson en tant que première récipiendaire de la bourse de recherche émérite de Power Corporation du Canada en 2022-2023. Cette bourse récompense les personnes qui ont apporté une contribution exceptionnelle aux politiques publiques par leur leadership, leur service, leur mentorat et leurs importantes recherches.

Clare Hutchinson
Clare Hutchinson

De 2018 à 2021, Mme Hutchinson a été représentante spéciale du Secrétaire général de l’OTAN pour les femmes, la paix et la sécurité, relais important pour tout ce qui a trait à la protection des enfants dans les conflits armés, et chef de l’unité de sécurité humaine de l’OTAN. Auparavant, elle a travaillé comme conseillère principale en matière d’égalité des genres au Département de maintien de la paix des Nations Unies, où elle a dirigé le développement stratégique des politiques, des stratégies et du renforcement des capacités en matière d’égalité des genres pendant plus d’une décennie. Elle a également été déployée en tant que conseillère en matière d’égalité des genres dans de nombreuses missions de maintien de la paix des Nations Unies à travers le monde.

Avant de travailler à l’ONU, Mme Hutchinson était une experte en communication et en relations publiques, spécialisée dans le domaine de l’atténuation des risques et des catastrophes pour les organisations gouvernementales et non gouvernementales.

Mme Hutchinson est née et a fait ses études à Newcastle Upon Tyne, au Royaume-Uni. Elle a obtenu une maîtrise en relations internationales et une maîtrise en recherche politique à l’Université de Newcastle ainsi qu’un B.A. à l’Université de Coventry. Elle a également étudié le théâtre et la scénographie au Newcastle College of Arts and Technology. Elle détient la double citoyenneté canadienne et britannique et réside à Halifax, en Nouvelle-Écosse.

Mme Hutchinson est une « femme leader pour la paix » au sein de l’International Leadership Association et une mentore du programme Women in International Security for Eastern Partnership.

Osgoode’s chief law librarian named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women

Osgoode Hall Law School entrance to the Ignat Kaneff building

Osgoode Hall Law School’s chief law librarian has been honoured as one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women by the Toronto-based Women’s Executive Network. Chief Law Librarian Yemisi Dina was recognized for her leadership within her field.

It is the second such honour for Osgoode faculty and staff in recent years. In 2018, Osgoode Hall Law School Dean Mary Condon was also honoured by the organization in the public sector category.

“I was surprised but thrilled and happy to be recognized for my accomplishments in my career,” said Dina, who joined Osgoode’s law library in 2006.

Yemisi Dina
Yemisi Dina

“The award is very important and significant as it gives me a reflection of my professional journey, which has taken me through different experiences, people and knowledge,” she added. “The recognition gives me great confidence to continue to work hard, motivate, lead and inspire the future generation.”

Dina also serves as vice-president one for the Toronto-based Canadian Association of Law Libraries. She is also an active teacher, researcher and volunteer and a longtime member of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL). Earlier this year, she was awarded the Daniel L. Wade Outstanding Service Award by members of the AALL’s Foreign, Comparative and International Law Special Interest Section (FCIL-SIS).

Dina holds an honours bachelor of arts degree in English, a master’s degree in language arts and a master’s degree in library and information science from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria. She earned an honours LLB from the University of Lagos in Nigeria in 1990 and later achieved a master’s degree in public policy administration and law from York University. She has held a variety of positions at public and academic libraries in Canada, Nigeria and The Bahamas.

Her areas of specialization include law librarianship, information technology and its application to information services, legal research methods, women’s studies, and foreign, comparative and international law. She teaches library research in the first-year Legal Process course at Osgoode and in a number of upper-year and graduate courses.

The Women’s Executive Network, also known as WXN, is a national organization dedicated to propelling and celebrating the advancement of women of all ages, at all levels and in all sectors.

Recipients of WXN’s Top 100 honour for 2022 will be celebrated at an awards gala on Thursday, Nov. 17 at Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York hotel.

In a description of its Top 100 program, the Women’s Executive Network notes that the recipients are recognized for their leadership in their industries or communities, for their accomplishments as rising stars, or their work as advocates and champions for others.

“They’re an inspiration to others,” it explains. “They’re trailblazers and ground breakers for future generations.

“This is what makes Canada’s Most Powerful Women truly powerful – not their standing or job title,” it adds. “Since 2003, we have celebrated their incredible actions and accomplishments at our Top 100 Awards.”

Welcome to the October 2022 issue of ‘Innovatus’

Header banner for INNOVATUS
Will Gage
Will Gage

Welcome to the second issue this year of “Innovatus,” a special issue of YFile dedicated to teaching and learning innovation at York University. This issue of our monthly newsletter focuses on Open Educational Resources, or OERs.

OERs represent an extraordinary opportunity for York University. These educational resources help to remove barriers that limit access to education. OERs also serve to expand what instructors can offer students as these freely available materials can be accessed, adapted, and modified with few or no restrictions. These materials in turn can serve to enhance student access to learning while possibly reducing costs, something that is particularly important as we navigate the new economic challenges posed by this post-pandemic world.

Together with Joy Kirchner, dean of University Libraries, I co-chair York University’s open education steering committee. I invite you to join us on this fascinating journey. You can keep up to date by subscribing to the Open Education listserv, details on how to access the listserv are available on the Open Education Steering Committee website.

In this issue of “Innovatus,” the articles recount some of the experiences our colleagues have had with OERs and offer resources for instructors interested in learning more.

I hope the ideas presented in this issue are both informative and inspiring.


Will Gage
Associate Vice-President, Teaching and Learning

Faculty, course directors and staff are invited to share their experiences in teaching, learning, internationalization and the student experience through the “Innovatus” story form, which is available at

In this issue:

Opening our eyes to the possibilities of OER
“The decision to devote this issue of ‘Innovatus’ to Open Educational Resources (OER) is a deliberate one,” writes Joy Kirchner, dean of Libraries at York University, in her letter to the community. “Across Canada, there is a national conversation happening about how academic institutions use OER, support OER adoption and creation in the classroom, and how OER facilitate innovative pedagogy.”

An Open Educational Resources mini-course offers innovative options for York instructors
The Open Educational Resources mini-course provides instructors with the necessary background knowledge and skills to engage with innovative, open pedagogical tools.

French as a second language educators build OER repository
As part of the larger goal of building a unified, intersectoral community of practice among French as a second language (FSL) educators, Professors Muriel Péguret and Dominique Scheffel-Dunand are building a multilingual hub that includes a repository of Open Educational Resources (OER), such as textbooks, articles and videos.

York faculty create Open Educational Resources, advancing UN SDGs
Faculty develop innovative Open Educational Resources (OER) that are aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and reveal the positive impact on teaching and learning.

OER projects developed by York faculty for eCampusOntario’s virtual learning strategy
York University, through its talented faculty, contribute to eCampusOntario’s virtual learning strategy Open Educational Resources (OER) collection.

Opening our eyes to the possibilities of OER

The decision to devote this issue of “Innovatus” to Open Educational Resources (OER) is a deliberate one. Across Canada, there is a national conversation happening about how academic institutions use OER, support OER adoption and creation in the classroom, and how OER facilitate innovative pedagogy. 

Joy Kirchner, dean of Libraries
Joy Kirchner, dean of Libraries

As the articles in this issue of “Innovatus” show, instructors at York University have already made great strides in adopting and creating OER.

There is a real opportunity for York University to be a leader in open education. In fact, I will be hosting a pivotal National Open Education Strategy Summit, Nov. 9 and 10, at York University. This event will gather major stakeholders across the country, including representatives from key national higher education organizations such as Universities Canada, Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan), the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL), Vice-Presidents Teaching & Learning Table Canada (VPTL Canada), Campus Books Canada, Open/Technology in Education, Society, and Scholarship Association (OTESSA), the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), Student Union Etudiante, the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, eCampusOntario and BCCampus. As well, faculty, librarians, educational developers and administrators from across the country will be attending to discuss how a federal strategy can be developed to support the adoption, adaptation and creation of OER on a national scale. 

Open Education is a pedagogical philosophy that removes access barriers to education. OER are openly licensed, freely available educational materials that can be used, accessed, adapted and redistributed with no or limited restrictions. OER come in a variety of formats, including textbooks, courses, multimedia, streaming video, data and supplementary materials. As the COVID-19 pandemic required courses to pivot to an online format, instructors demanded more online resources, a situation that put OER into the spotlight.

Here at York University, there is a strong interest in open education. We actively support the adoption and creation of OER. I currently co-chair York’s Open Education Steering Committee (OESC) with Will Gage, associate vice president teaching & learning. The OESC focuses on coordinating and promoting the creation, mobilization, and discovery of OER produced by the broader York community, as well as investigating avenues towards adopting open course materials to enhance the student experience at York University.

In fact, open education and OER dovetail perfectly with York’s University Academic Plan (UAP). The UAP’s priority, From Access to Success, calls for the University to support students from all backgrounds in their educational journeys. OER are one of the tools that can help make the university environment more accessible to students by providing access to course learning materials from the first day of classes, for free.  

Incorporating OER into the curriculum also helps the University advance the UAP priority, 21st century learning, as OER can help make York a more attractive learning environment for students since these resources are not only free, but instructors can also tailor them to the specific learning needs of York students. Finally, open educational practices also help York instructors, staff and students contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG). Using OER in the classroom helps instructors contribute to UN SDG 4: Quality Education, as it promotes no cost open access to teaching and learning resources. OER are embraced by UNESCO they encourage inclusive and equitable quality education and are a means to facilitate international cooperation. The York community has the opportunity to directly contribute to UNESCO’s OER in action program with linkages to other UN SDGs.

Ultimately, open educational practices herald a new way of thinking about teaching and learning, one that embraces a spirit of sharing and exchange where authors use open licenses that empower other instructors to share, reuse and even remix their learning resources to create custom learning experiences for students.

As you read through the stories in this issue, join the York University Libraries, the OESC and instructors engaged in this area in imagining a world where educators share and innovate through building upon each other’s teaching and learning resources to create a more equitable, inclusive learning environment. Then, take the next step and get involved. York has a robust group of people supporting the creation, adoption and adaptation of OER, and we encourage all York instructors to explore how OER can enrich the student experience in your classroom and beyond.

Joy Kirchner
Dean of Libraries

An Open Educational Resources mini-course offers innovative options for York instructors

Two people sitting in front of computers discuss what they are seeing

By Elaine Smith

The Open Educational Resources mini-course provides instructors with the necessary background knowledge and skills to engage with innovative, open pedagogical tools.

Stephanie Quail
Stephanie Quail

As busy as York University instructors are, it’s worth carving out the time for a new four-week mini-course as it provides the necessary tools to create or incorporate OER into courses, says Stephanie Quail, scholarly communications librarian.

“OER can save you time,” said Quail. “There are OER repositories that include high-quality teaching and learning resources. Instructors can either use the materials as is, or depending on the open license, they can revise and remix the content.”

Quail and colleague, Sarah Coysh, director of the Libraries’ Digital Scholarship Infrastructure Department, developed the course in 2020 at the behest of the Academic Innovation Fund (AIF) steering committee. Any faculty member who receives an AIF grant is now encouraged to take the course and starting this fall, the course will be open to all instructors at York University.

OER are openly licensed, freely available educational materials that can be used, accessed, adapted and redistributed with no or limited restrictions. The online OER course, which will start in late November, will be offered by York University Libraries both synchronously and asynchronously. The four module mini-course covers a variety of valuable topics:

  1. OER 101: What is OER? Including examples of OER and how they benefit students and faculty. 
  2. Copyright & Creative Commons licenses: An exploration of the range of open licenses available to creators and how to choose a licence that makes the most sense for their project.
  3. Finding and evaluating OER: How to find OER for your subject areas and evaluate them.
  4. Create or adapt pre-existing OER: Learn how to create your own OER or adapt those already online.

Quail says the course is designed to not be onerous, given the other demands on instructors’ time. Completing assignments is optional and assignments are structured to help faculty walk away from the course with a game plan for creating or using OER in their courses.

Sarah Coysh
Sarah Coysh

The York University Libraries website also has a resource available that explains the procedure for depositing your OER into YorkSpace, York’s own institutional repository. Lukas Arnason, assistant professor of French studies in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional studies (LA&PS), took the OER training and said it was “the best professional training I’ve received at York. It was a cut above. I came out of it feeling that I had a handle on something that had been a complete mystery to me before. It was really empowering.

“I loved the way the course was organized. The separate modules were nicely self-contained and they built on one another.”

He was pleased to have the chance to work with H5P, a platform for building resources and something to which he hadn’t been exposed previously. “Rather than hand students a massive textbook, you can offer them a mix of resources and make lessons interactive,” Arnason said. “It’s especially useful for language professors, because you can build electronic components for practise and reinforcement outside the classroom.”

Sophie Bury, director of Learning Commons and Reference Services in the York University Libraries, took the training as part of a 2020 AIF grant to develop the Student Guide to Group Work.

“The excellent OER training program … formed the backbone behind this project and enabled us to take this guide to a new level by equipping our team with the skills needed to make this a true OER, featuring original content, the adaptation of existing OER, and best of all, by moving us beyond an initial conception of an exclusive focus on the York community, to ensure academic colleagues internationally can share or adapt this resource in line with the terms of our creative commons license,” Bury said.

Mary-Helen Armour
Mary-Helen Armour

Mary-Helen Armour, an associate professor who teaches planetary science courses in the Faculty of Science, has been using OER for years and finds them an invaluable tool. She learned by doing, working with colleagues in professional associations in workshops and at conferences to test them and adjust them to her needs.

“In recent years, eCampusOntario has started supporting the development of OER, but they don’t have a discipline-specific focus,” she said. “The OER I use are ways to give students a different experience beyond multiple choice tests in the areas I teach. The OER also allow you to use current scientific data in some fairly simple ways, so students feel connected with how scientists actually do things.

“For instance, I can try to tie assignments into recent satellite space missions to show students how scientists use the data, or to slides created by mission experts where we can talk about the mission’s impact. OER slide sets from groups like NASA are great for those of us who don’t have time to assemble slick graphics. They make for a much richer student experience.”

Register here for the upcoming OER course.

French as a second language educators build OER repository

Laptop with a pen

By Elaine Smith

As part of the larger goal of building a unified, intersectoral community of practice among French as a second language (FSL) educators, Professors Muriel Péguret and Dominique Scheffel-Dunand are building a multilingual hub that includes a repository of Open Educational Resources (OER), such as textbooks, articles and videos.

Dominique Scheffel-Dunand
Dominique Scheffel-Dunand

OER are free teaching and learning resources that typically use a Creative Commons license that allows users to retain, revise, remix, reuse and redistribute content. This is also known as the 5Rs of OER. Muriel Péguret and Dominique Scheffel-Dunand received funding from the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities to create this online repository and hub, and it is currently in its second iteration.

The pair are striving to ensure that “the project and repository become THE reference for OER in FSL,” said Péguret, coordinator of language programs and academic coordinator of the Glendon BEd program. “We plan to have resources in English and in Indigenous languages, in addition to French, so it can be used by all learners who are engaged in FSL. We also want to aggregate FSL resources from other repositories so people don’t need to search multiple sites.”

They have engaged the services of another colleague, Mirela Cherciov, sessional assistant professor in linguistics and language studies at Glendon, to develop OER useful to the FSL community for continuing education and professional development purposes.

The project is called Camerise, which is the French-Canadian name for the Haskap berry, a native nutritious fruit from the blue honeysuckle that grows in northern climates. The name has symbolism: the superfood characteristics of the berry represents knowledge and effervescence; its tendency to grow in clusters symbolizes community; it grows close to the ground, reminiscent of the bottom-up process of OER creation; and it can be transformed into many derivatives.

“These are resources developed by the FSL community for the FSL community, including teachers, administrators and parents – many stakeholders,” said Scheffel-Dunand, associate professor of French studies in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS).

Muriel Péguret
Muriel Péguret

“You can constantly iterate and rejuvenate knowledge,” said Scheffel-Dunand. For example, Le Littéraire dans le quotidien (The Literary in the Everyday) is an open textbook and represents a new pedagogical approach to reading and writing at college and university lower levels and is applicable to all languages. This OER, conceptualized by Joanna Gay Luks at Cornell University, is currently being adapted by FSL educators in the Grand Erie District School Board and the Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board to develop foundations in understanding Indigenous ways of living and being in FSL programs from elementary to secondary levels in both school boards.    

Both project leads note that multilingual OER repositories are already common in both Norway and Finland; Canada is working to catch up.

“OER encourage people not to start from scratch when creating teaching materials,” noted Péguret. “It fits with our complex, changing world. It is good pedagogy to adapt materials to your audience and it also gives teachers the flexibility of being in control of their own resources.”

Although anyone may use an OER, such as a textbook, podcast, or video, and adapt it for their own needs, the licensing requires them to give credit to the original author. This ensures that the original author receives attribution in the remixing process.

By using Camerise, FSL practitioners will be able to:

  • search for a resource;
  • retrieve and compare similar resources;
  • group resources on their personal dashboard;
  • share resources with peers;
  • comment, review and engage in discussion;
  • link external resources and contextualize them with new metadata and modify them based on the OER’s Creative Commons license; or
  • deposit OER that you have authored.

There are hurdles to overcome in encouraging FSL practitioners to create resources for Camerise, said Scheffel-Dunand, who notes that people must overcome their uncertainty about transforming, rather than creating resources. In situations where there are many authors originating a paper or a work, they will need to negotiate the type of license applied to the OER. In addition, every aspect of the resource – text, video, etc. – must be verified as an OER, which requires the checking and recording of each external resource’s copyright status.

“It requires a change of culture,” said Péguret. “We want people at all levels to create, share and adapt OER, and we hope that bachelor of education programs will train students to do so, allowing the culture to change naturally over time.”

Péguret and Scheffel-Dunand also plan to connect with Indigenous colleagues to ensure that they can embed Indigenous ways of knowing into the FSL curriculum and into the repository. “We want to include them in the process,” Scheffel-Dunand said. “Until we live those dialogues, we can’t predict which knowledge will lend itself to translation, but the dialogue is open.” The current iteration of the repository is now online and the creators are eager for feedback about the resources and functionalities that colleagues would like to see. Colleagues are encouraged to visit the Camerise website and submit feedback via the webform.

Des pédagogues du FLS créent un référentiel REL

Dans le contexte de l’objectif global de bâtir une communauté de pratique unifiée et intersectorielle chez les enseignants et enseignantes de français langue seconde (FLS), Muriel Péguret et Dominique Scheffel-Dunand élaborent actuellement une plateforme qui comprend un référentiel de ressources éducatives libres (REL), notamment des manuels, des articles et des vidéos.

Les REL sont des ressources d’enseignement et d’apprentissage gratuites et généralement basées sur une licence Creative Commons qui permettent aux utilisateurs, de retenir, réviser, remixer, réutiliser et redistribuer  le contenu, en d’autres mots les 5R des REL. Elles ont reçu un financement du ministère des Collèges et Universités de l’Ontario pour créer ce référentiel et cette plateforme en ligne, qui en est à sa deuxième itération.

« Nous souhaitons que le projet et le référentiel deviennent LA référence en matière de REL en FLS, a déclaré Mme Péguret, coordonnatrice des programmes de langues et coordonnatrice académique du programme B.Éd. de Glendon. Nous prévoyons avoir des ressources en anglais et en langues autochtones, en plus du français, afin qu’elles puissent être utilisées par toutes les personnes apprenantes engagées dans le FLS. Nous voulons également regrouper les ressources de FLS provenant d’autres référentiels afin que les gens n’aient pas besoin de faire des recherches sur plusieurs sites. »

Les deux professeures ont fait appel aux services d’une autre collègue, Mirela Cherciov, pour élaborer des REL utiles à la communauté FLS à des fins de formation continue et de développement professionnel.

Le projet porte le nom d’une baie très nutritive originaire des climats nordiques, la camerise. Ce nom a une valeur symbolique : les caractéristiques de ce super aliment représentent la connaissance et l’effervescence; sa tendance à pousser en grappes symbolise la communauté. Comme elle pousse près du sol, cela rappelle le processus ascendant de la création de REL. De plus, elle peut être transformée en de nombreux produits dérivés.

« Ce sont des ressources développées par la communauté du FLS pour sa communauté, y compris les enseignants, les administrateurs et les parents – de nombreux intervenants, a déclaré Mme Scheffel-Dunand, professeure agrégée d’études françaises à la Faculté d’arts libéraux et d’études professionnelles. Vous pouvez constamment itérer et rajeunir les connaissances. »

Par exemple, Le Littéraire dans le quotidien est un manuel libre qui représente une nouvelle approche pédagogique de la lecture et de l’écriture aux niveaux inférieurs et qui est applicable à toutes les langues. Ce référentiel REL, conceptualisé par Joanna Gay Luks à l’Université Cornell, est actuellement adapté par les éducateurs de FLS du Grand Erie District School Board (GEDSB) et du Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board (BHNCDSB) pour développer les bases de la compréhension des modes de vie et d’existence autochtones dans les programmes de FLS des deux conseils scolaires, du niveau élémentaire au niveau secondaire.    

Les deux chefs de projet font remarquer que les référentiels REL sont courants en Norvège et en Finlande; le Canada s’efforce de rattraper son retard.

« Les REL encouragent les gens à ne pas partir de zéro lorsqu’ils créent du matériel pédagogique, a indiqué Mme Péguret. Cela convient bien à notre monde complexe et en constante évolution. C’est une bonne pratique pédagogique d’adapter le matériel à son public et cela donne également aux enseignants l’option de contrôler leurs propres ressources. »

Tout le monde peut utiliser des REL, comme un manuel, un balado ou une vidéo, et les adapter à ses besoins, mais la licence exige de mentionner l’auteur original afin qu’il soit mentionné dans le processus de remixage. 

En utilisant Camerise, les praticiens du FLS seront en mesure de :

• Chercher une ressource;
• La récupérer et la comparer avec des ressources similaires;
• Regrouper des ressources sur un tableau de bord personnel;
• Partager des ressources avec des pairs;
• Commenter, réviser, entamer une discussion;
• Mettre dans le référentiel les REL dont on est l’auteur.

« Cela nécessite un changement de culture, a déclaré Mme Péguret. Nous voulons que les gens à tous les niveaux créent, partagent et adaptent les REL. Nous espérons que les programmes de licence en éducation formeront les étudiants à le faire, permettant ainsi un changement de culture naturellement au fil du temps. »

Les deux professeures prévoient également entrer en contact avec des collègues autochtones pour s’assurer qu’elles peuvent intégrer les modes de connaissance autochtones dans le programme de FLS et dans le référentiel.

« Nous voulons les inclure dans le processus, a déclaré Mme Scheffel-Dunand. Tant que nous ne vivons pas ces dialogues, nous ne pouvons pas prédire quelles connaissances se prêteront à la traduction, mais le dialogue est ouvert. » L’itération actuelle du référentiel est en ligne et les créatrices sollicitent de la rétroaction sur les ressources et les fonctionnalités que leurs collègues souhaiteraient voir ajouter. Elles les encouragent à visiter le site Web et à soumettre leurs commentaires avec le formulaire Web.

York faculty create Open Educational Resources, advancing UN SDGs

Person working on a computer

By Angela Ward

Faculty develop innovative Open Educational Resources (OER) that are aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and reveal the positive impact on teaching and learning.

Faculty members who are engaged in the process of creating OER reveal the impact this has on the teaching and learning experience, both in the classroom and beyond. They note that the interactive resources provide a tremendous opportunity for both instructors and students to learn and adapt as the world becomes increasingly more digitized.

Raymond Mar
Raymond Mar

Raymond A. Mar, associate professor, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health, and the creator of OER tutorials for data analysis, notes the financial difficulties students face when it comes to purchasing expensive textbooks. He says that OER not only reduce costs for students but also increase access to a wider audience, aligning with UN SDG 1 (no poverty) and UN SDG 4 (quality education).

“I think that making these resources more accessible increases the likelihood that they’ll be used more widely, which can really magnify your impact,” says Mar.

The OER tutorials he created are grouped in the resource “Research Methods: Interactive Demonstrations in ‘R’ at York (ReMInDeRY),” and are designed to help students learn a statistical programming language called R.

Mar explains that learning this software can be quite challenging for students as they move from a point-and-click interface to writing lines of code. R is becoming the predominant way of analyzing data for many fields, and being able to analyze data using R is a valuable skill to have in the workplace. When he first reviewed the available introductory tutorials for R, Mar thought that they remained intimidating.

“Even downloading and installing the software can be tricky for people,” he explains. “I created these tutorials to be the smoothest and easiest on-ramp to learning R, with everything available in a web browser window and no need to install any software.”

In this OER, students visit the website link, and receive an introduction to the basics of R with easy-to-understand language and quizzes to show their progress. From these tutorials, students can move onto learning more advanced skills in the software.

As a result of R being open source and free, packages have been created to improve its capabilities in creating interactive maps and websites. Mar points out how R can contribute to other SDGs by allowing users to produce persuasive data graphics that can speak to SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation) and SDG 13 (climate action).

Similarly, Tsvetanka Karagyozova, assistant professor (teaching stream), Department of Economics, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS), sees connections to many SDGs in the OER she developed with an interdisciplinary team.

Tsvetanka Karagyozova
Tsvetanka Karagyozova

“I was interested in creating OER because textbooks and peer-reviewed course materials are the gold standard in economics but over time they become more expensive,” adds Karagyozova. “At York, I typically leave one copy of the textbook required for the course on reserve at the Scott Library, so I can see how well-used that textbook is.”

Karagyozova was part of a group of York collaborators, including Ida Ferrara, associate professor, LA&PS, and Edward Furman, professor, Faculty of Science, and Ricardas Zitikis, an associate professor of statistics from Western University. They also secured support from research assistants, a project manager and Xpan, an external contractor for the virtual reality (VR) experiment.

United under the Risk and Insurance Studies Centre (RISC) at York, they received funding from eCampusOntario Virtual Learning Strategy (VLS) program to develop a fully online course, Economics of Insurance and Decision Making Under Risk, accompanied by a VR behavioural lab. Because this OER uses a Creative Commons licence, it allows others to freely adopt, adapt, and build on the materials.

“Some of the SDGs are embedded in the course materials,” Karagyozova explains. “One of the modules, for example, is dedicated to microinsurance and economic growth. We look at how microinsurance can promote sustainable and inclusive growth in developing countries, serving as a risk mitigation mechanism that can break the poverty cycle and elevate women out of poverty.” This directly addresses UN SDG 1 (no poverty) and UN SDG 5 (gender equality, and empowering women and girls).

She adds that with the high cost of textbooks, students in developing nations sometimes do not have access to basic learning materials. OER within niche fields like hers can be shared with learners globally, opening them up to the world.

Eric Armstrong
Eric Armstrong

Eric Armstrong, chair and associate professor, Department of Theatre, School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD), also touches on the global reach OER can have on communities. His open textbook, Lexical Sets for Actors, is internationally accessible and has garnered interest from the United Kingdom (U.K.), fulfilling a need they have for accent training.

“There are lots of resources to teach people accents and phonetics (the sounds of language) but the lexical resources available are outdated, buried in a philosophy and pedagogy that’s often biased towards a standard speech,” he explains.

Armstrong says he is open to working with others to make variations of the book for different audiences and needs. He has even received feedback from his U.K. partner on changes they would like to see. Because Armstrong’s OER is licensed with a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license, his OER allows for other instructors and educational institutions to remix and adapt the OER to tailor it to their local teaching context.

He approached the creation of the textbook learner with variability in mind. There are sample sentences for actors to practice their accents, which employs a creative writing component. It was also written with accessibility and many demographics in mind, including BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and non-binary communities. The OER’s inclusivity impacts areas outside the university as well.

“I’m also using the book with colleagues who are learning to be this type of teacher or trainer,” he adds. “Not working just in university settings but with professional actors, coaching them for roles. This resource stretches beyond the walls of academia.”

In looking towards the future of OER, Armstrong says, “The OER we are creating now will serve as models for others to get involved and to show that it can be done. People start to think differently about the nature of teaching, the nature of resources and about the nature of our responsibility to create a different kind of learning experience.”

OER projects developed by York faculty for eCampusOntario’s virtual learning strategy


By Elaine Smith

York University, through its talented faculty, contribute to eCampusOntario’s virtual learning strategy Open Educational Resources (OER) collection.

In December 2020, the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities unveiled its Virtual Learning Strategy (VLS), an initiative designed “to drive growth and advancement in virtual learning across the province’s post-secondary institutions,” and York University faculty members have been happy to contribute.

The ministry’s calls in 2020 and 2021 for expressions of interest presented instructors with the opportunity to create projects that expand “options for traditional and lifelong learning through the accelerated use of both online and hybrid learning.” VLS project leads are tasked with “fostering collaborative practices and emphasizing reusable and adaptable resources that can be shared through a common repository.” In other words, VLS project leads created open educational resources (OER) and other resources that have been made freely available through eCampusOntario’s Open Library.

Robert McKeown
Robert McKeown

Robert McKeown, an assistant professor in the Department of Economics, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) answered the call. He joined forces with Catherine Pfaff, an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics at Queen’s University, and Sumon Majumdar, associate professor and head of the Economics Department at Queen’s University, to create two asynchronous VLS courses to help social science students bridge the gap between high school and university mathematics, probability and statistics. Anita Lam, associate dean, teaching & learning in LA&PS at York University, helped gamify the GAMES: Intro Statistics modules. All members of the York University community can now access the modules via eClass.

“Our aim was to comprehensively cover concepts for a diverse set of learners, whether they are high school students who come to university without a strong background or just want to refresh their knowledge, or mature learners who are looking to upskill,” said Majumdar.

The courses, named GAMES 1 and 2, offer a Gentle Approach to Math, Excel and Statistics. Together they offer a comprehensive and practical refresher for students in the social sciences, economics and business. One module, GAMES: Intro Statistics, has been gamified to enhance student learning and retention.”

“Because of the pandemic and the need to teach online, I gained some experience with digitizing classes, as well as the pros and cons,” said McKeown. “I learned how to create content at home and got a sense of how to create content on a budget.”

Anita Lam
Anita Lam

The team is making the courses practical, using problems that are relatable, using examples from subjects such as business, politics and sports. Each has multiple modules that allows students to focus on one particular topic at a time and teaches them to interpret data when it appears in social science coursework or in the news in the form of survey data with a margin of error, for example.

To ensure that the courses were understandable and workable with York’s eClass platform, McKeown hired students to review the modules. The statistics module is now live on eClass, with the others rolling out during the year.

“This is an innovative pedagogical and practical approach to teaching math with a focus on the social sciences, which can be pretty daunting for students,” said Majumdar.

Meanwhile, Marcia Annisette, former associate dean, academic, at the Schulich School of Business, and her colleagues worked collaboratively with Itah Sadhu and the team at the Blackhurst Cultural Centre to create an online Black Youth Entrepreneurship course. The online course, “provides participants with the tools for developing successful businesses while decolonizing the business curriculum and providing students with role models to whom they can relate and perspectives that are relevant to their experience as Black people,” said Annisette.

Marcia Annisette
Marcia Annisette

Each of the seven modules consists of a lecture by a York faculty expert on the topic; a fireside chat between a leading Black entrepreneur, a faculty member and a Black graduate student to discuss the entrepreneur’s life and work history, as well lessons from the topic at hand; and Black student and community perspectives, providing insights and comments that reinforce the day’s lessons.

“Each module will reflect the coming together of business academia and the Black community; and the theory of business and the practice of business as it relates to Black business and entrepreneurship,” said Annisette. “Given the chasm that exists between business – as a field of practice and as a field of study – and the Black community, the symbolic value of demonstrating these collaborations cannot be understated.” 

By the end of the course, students will have used their ideas to develop a business plan and a pitch for an enterprise that can create both social good and economic gain.

“The objective of the course itself is to contribute to a more equitable society by making business education accessible to Black youth and by providing them with role models of success in business,” Annisette noted.

The course itself is designed for delivery via any modern, standards-based learning management system.

Andrew Skelton, an assistant professor, teaching stream, in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Faculty of Science, used the eCampusOntario funding to take the First Year Experience Learning Modules developed with a Faculty of Science fund and an Academic Innovation Fund grant and turn them into generic, widely available resources.

Andrew Skelton
Andrew Skelton

The revised First Year Experience Learning Modules address three types of first-year student needs: mathematical skills (how to learn from homework problems, effective mathematical communication, multiple representations and other aids); study skills (avoiding procrastination, notetaking and the neuroscience of learning); and life skills (managing academic stress, how to send an email and combating perfectionism).

Skelton recruited partners from the University of Guelph and Western University to ensure that the modules were widely applicable to university students, despite the nuances of each institution. Most of the material has been developed by students at the three institutions with the professors providing supervision and quality control.

In order to ensure the modules could be posted online as OER, Skelton met with Patricia Lynch from the office of York’s general counsel, to ensure he understood the different Creative Commons licenses available, how to choose among them and how to track content and sources.

“I wanted to get the modules out to a wider audience,” said Skelton. “I’ve used them extensively in my courses, and I’m passionate about the content, so to see people pick it up and run with it will be huge.

“I would love to get feedback and see what others do with it.”