New awards recognize staff for their innovative online learning strategies

Posted on Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Professor presenting an online class

Members of the uOttawa community have been working incredibly hard for more than a year to migrate their courses online and to adapt pedagogies to new digital formats. The innovations have been truly inspiring!

In recognition of the extraordinary achievements, Provost and Vice-President, Academic Affairs Jill Scott created three new awards to reward and celebrate faculty, staff, and teaching assistants who, in the current pandemic environment, have gone above and beyond to create engaging learning experiences for our students.

The Leadership award, Innovation award and Transition award, created in collaboration with uOttawa’s Teaching and learning support services (TLSS), were presented at a dynamic virtual ceremony on April 29, 2021. Here are the recipients:


The Leadership award

The Leadership Award recognizes faculty members who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and commitment to the transition to online education. This award went to:


  • Alison Flynn and Jeremy Kerr, Faculty of Science
  • Ellen Zweibel, Faculty of Law, Common Law Section
  • David Taylor, Faculty of Engineering
  • Reza Farzi, Faculty of Arts


Each winner received $2,000 to support their ongoing efforts.


The Award for most Innovative project in distance education or online

This award was presented to individuals who designed projects in keeping with the spirit of the Transformation 2030 strategic plan. These projects leveraged agility and sustainability, while enriching student learning and program quality. This award went to:


  • Craig Forcese and Ellen Zweibel, Faculty of Law, Common Law Section
  • Colin Montpetit and Elaine Beaulieu, Faculty of Science
  • Thomas Burelli, Faculty of Law, Civil Law Section


To recognize the importance of their work, each received a $2,000 prize.


The Transition award

Support staff and teaching assistants were also recognized. The Transition Award recognizes their efforts to transition from face-to-face to online education. In doing so, these six individuals have helped reduce students’ barriers to learning.


The Teaching Assistant Transition Award went to:
  • Michelle Hennessey, Faculty of Arts
  • Leonard Droppo-Crites, Faculty of Arts
  • Alisha Szozda and Meredith Allen, Faculty of Science


The Support Staff Transition Award went to:
  • Bonnie Thornbury, Faculty of Medicine
  • Charles Benoit, Faculty of Science
  • Nathalie Leclair, University of Ottawa Library


Each award comes with a $500 prize.


The SOPI Scholarship helps faculty develop quality online courses in the context of COVID-19

During the virtual ceremony, several Shared Online Project Initiative (SOPI) scholarships were also awarded. These scholarships were created by uOttawa’s Office of the Provost and Vice-President, Academic Affairs, in collaboration with the Office of the Associate Vice-President, Teaching and Learning, at Carleton University.

This award promotes and facilitates collaboration between faculty from both institutions when developing online courses, so that they can be shared, adopted, adapted, and reused at either university.

Eighteen professors from the University of Ottawa and 14 from Carleton University were awarded the grant.

The teaching resources developed through these collaborations will be used in 25 courses at both institutions. Ultimately, this provides high-quality learning experiences for students at both institutions.

Fifty-four open access courses were created in the first edition of this competition in June 2020.

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