Celebrate Learning Week 2021

In this special edition of Edubytes newsletter, we share highlights from the recent Celebrate Learning Week — an annual showcase of teaching and learning at UBC.

For the first time, the event was held fully online and in collaboration across UBC Vancouver and Okanagan campuses. Our guest editors from the Celebrate Learning Week planning committee, Dr. Jaclyn (Jackie) Stewart (deputy academic director at UBCV’s Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology) and Dr. Tanya Forneris (interim academic lead at UBCO’s Centre for Teaching and Learning), share their highlights from the week.

Shaping the future of teaching and learning

Our theme for Celebrate Learning Week this year was ‘Shaping our Future’, which we selected to represent the agency that all of us in the UBC community have in guiding the direction of teaching and learning in a post-pandemic world.

It is clear that we have all have faced great challenges over the past year, and the empathy we have for each other is a motivational force to glean as much as we can from this experience, while acknowledging the trauma the pandemic has caused.

Conversations across campuses

Celebrate Learning Week 2021 was the first time this event has been hosted as a shared event across both the Vancouver and Okanagan campus — made possible in part by the virtual nature of the event.

We were excited to see faculties embrace this format, with 29 contributed events, many of which spanned both campuses. The virtual nature of the event also made it easy for units to collaborate, which sparked the conversations many of us wish we had more of.

This was particularly visible through the Teaching Learning and Enhancement Fund (TLEF) and Aspire-2040 Learning Transformations Fund (ALT-2040) Showcase events. Project teams from both campuses showcased their projects resulting from teaching and learning grants in the TLEF and ALT-2040 Virtual Showcase. We congratulate everyone working on these projects, and encourage you to watch the recorded Teaching and Learning Innovation Panel below and explore the Virtual Showcase posters.



Other themes that came up repeatedly over the week were empathy, nuance, and community.



Increased empathy has naturally developed in the past year, especially between students and faculty. At Celebrate Learning Week, we aimed to cultivate that empathy via events like the Student and Faculty Perspectives on Learning and Teaching During the COVID-19 Pandemic panel, facilitated by Dr. Tanya Forneris. In the panel, UBCO faculty member Dr. Tamara Freeman, UBCV faculty members Dr. Jonathan Graves and Dr. Qian Wang, and students Kavita Dau, Sam Manzano and Aydin Quach shared their experiences. In case you missed it, you can watch the recorded panel session and download the slides.



As we begin to return to our physical campuses, some aspects of teaching and learning will be clear improvements, or clear challenges. However, some aspects of pandemic teaching and learning require nuance to balance different approaches and needs.

Teaching and learning are social endeavours, and there is a trade-off between the peer-to-peer and peer-to-instructor social aspects of learning, and the convenience of being able to videoconference from home or watch recorded videos. Going forward, it is clear that several decisions require a great deal of nuance to decide future course design and pedagogy.

The Okanagan and Vancouver chemistry departments came together in a panel event to discuss their desires for post-pandemic teaching. On one hand, online assessments pushed people into developing more authentic and valid assessments of learning, which often required more time to construct. Many educators devoted time to reflect on what activities really require in-person engagement, and what types of classes work best in various formats. You can find a summary of the session on the Chemistry Learning Lab Notebook.



The dual-campus collaborative event of Celebrate Learning Week helped to build community. For Tanya, when approached to discuss the possibility of a cross-campus collaboration for a virtual Celebrate Learning Week, it was a definite yes. Despite the many challenges that the pandemic has brought forth, a great benefit has been for individuals from both campuses to engage in joint work or projects.

However, in reflecting on the events of the week, it became very clear from the start that Celebrate Learning Week became more than enabling participation of faculty, staff and students from both campuses. As the week progressed, the more she felt a sense of belonging in a larger teaching and learning community. From listening to presenters and participants share projects, perspectives, philosophies, successes and challenges the more she found others like herself.

This experience extended beyond learning who was who in different faculties or campuses, tips to use as we design courses moving forward or the pitfalls to avoid as we continue to teach in uncertain times. It fostered a sense of confidence and belonging that was empowering. We are not alone in the ways in which we think about teaching or engage with students to support their learning.

As we move forward, we hope that we can continue to build cross-discipline and cross-campus communities where we can find the supports we need to fully embrace our approaches to and philosophies of teaching without worry that we are alone in our pursuits to help students learn and succeed.

Learn more about this year’s event at the Celebrate Learning Week website, and explore event resources and recordings at the Celebrate Learning resource page.

Enjoyed reading about Celebrate Learning Week 2021? Learn about other topics we covered in the Celebrate Learning Week 2021 special edition by reading the complete Edubytes newsletter. To view past issues, visit the Edubytes archive.

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