Ontario universities bring community leaders 'back to class' to see the passion and innovation of teaching approaches

TORONTO, Jan. 23, 2012 /CNW/ - Universities across Ontario are celebrating leading teachers, showcasing innovative teaching practices, and demonstrating their commitment to student success through a series of "Back to Class" initiatives.

Throughout the winter, universities will host events and communicate information about how teaching is changing to make it more enriching for students. There will be examples of 3D and other technology in the classroom, community service learning experiences where coursework is applied and courses where team teaching of lectures is combined with small group learning labs. Universities will be organizing discussions with award-winning teachers about how they engage students with the material and discussions with students on what approaches make an impact on them. In many cases, community leaders from all levels of government, business and the non-profit sector will be invited to participate.

"The hallmarks of effective teaching are the ability to inspire students with a passion for their subject and for life-long learning," says Alastair Summerlee, Chair of the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) and President of the University of Guelph. "These events will highlight effective teaching and demonstrate the passion that effective teachers have to inspire student learning and acquire the critical thinking skills necessary for the job challenges of today and for the jobs that haven't even been invented yet."

The Back to Class initiative includes events such as visits to classrooms and labs, tours of teaching and learning centres, demonstrations of novel teaching methods, presentations by students and faculty, as well as local outreach to traditional and social media to profile teaching initiatives aimed at improving the student experience.

This initiative is part of a larger focus on teaching and learning this year, which is designed to celebrate success in this area and use those experiences to inform both institutional and public policy approaches with the aim of further enhancing the learning experience. Other activities will include the production of an Ontario report on best practices in teaching and a provincial symposium on Assessing Learning Outcomes, as well as university conferences that discuss ways to improve student engagement and inspire life-long learning.

"University education enriches the lives of students in many ways and the Back to Class project will be a demonstration of the integral role that well-chosen teaching methods play in a student's university experience," says Bonnie M. Patterson, COU President and CEO.

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SOURCE Council of Ontario Universities

For further information:

Jennifer Grass
Senior Director, Communications and Public Affairs
416-979-2165 x261


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