“The pandemic forced us to focus on what we’re really about — student learning,” says Kevin Kee, dean of arts and currently senior advisor, digital strategy and learning innovation. “COVID-19 reminded us that the learning experience is at the heart of what we do and forced us to act at lightning speed to imagine and implement new ways to teach, learn and stay connected. I think we were all surprised how fast universities pivoted when we need to.”
In this installment of our 175th anniversary series, we look not to the past, but towards a future that positions uOttawa at the very cutting edge of a fundamental expansion of how higher education is designed, developed and delivered. “Digital technology has the potential to make higher education more accessible, more inclusive and more personalized than ever before,” says Kee. “We think that uOttawa is ready to lead that shift.”
Kee heads an interdisciplinary team of professors, staff and students working to build infrastructure to drive digital innovation in learning on and off campus.
“The mission President Frémont set out for us is simple but ambitious,” says Kee, “to make uOttawa the leader in digital learning innovation in Canada, and beyond.” Kee and his team are studying best practices and developments with the most potential globally, nationally and on our campus. And they’re listening to professors and campus groups, to understand what they need and want, and how technology can further the core mission of higher education: to connect people to one another, to ideas and to the world.
“We already see early innovators among professors who use digital technology and AI to enhance and expand the learning experience of their students,” says Kee, “so our first task is to support them and make this a pan-university priority. Stay tuned, because in the coming weeks we’ll be launching a call for proposals, supported by a new innovation fund to make uOttawa a leader in teaching. We’re looking for projects that explore how technology can make learning more accessible, more agile and more connected.”
See our interview with Kee below, where he discusses what are the threats and opportunities of new technologies like ChatGPT, how the pandemic proved that universities can adapt quickly and how making education accessible is part of uOttawa’s institutional DNA.