Digital Pedagogy Lab Hosts First Event in Toronto

01.04.2019 - 3 min. Read

  DPL event leaders and keynote speakers (L-R: Sean Michael Morris, Rajiv Jhangiani, Jess Mitchel, Jesse Stommel)

Toronto’s first Digital Pedagogy Lab (DPL) was a three-day event full of workshops, immersive courses and creative discussions surrounding pedagogy, policies and critical practices.

DPL engages a diverse community in learning more about pedagogies that support student agency, creativity and inquiry. Since 2015, the organizers have held annual events at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, VA, and around the world. This year, with the support of eCampusOntario, the first Ontario DPL event was held in Toronto between March 18 and 20.

About 90 attendees from Canada, the US, and England took part in DPL courses, workshops and discussions at Toronto’s Gladstone Hotel, an intimate and art-centric boutique hotel set against the backdrop of the vibrant Queen West neighbourhood. Keynotes were Rajiv Jhangiani (Special Advisor to the Provost, Kwantlen Polytechnic University) and Jess Mitchell (Senior Manager, Research + Design at the Inclusive Design Research Centre at OCAD University).

For Sean Michael Morris, DPL Director, a sense of place and space is just as key as the learning material itself. “The pedagogy of the event is very much based on hospitality, letting people feel they have a safe and welcoming space to push and try new things in a way that helps them progress their work at home,” he says.

DPL is run using a cohort model, which develops a rapport among participants that enables them to take risks in their thinking. “It results in a really intensive learning environment,” says Sean. “People find it beneficial because they can actually take the time to learn from others, which creates intimate moments of inspiration, of revelation.”

For the DPL event team, this community extends beyond the conference long after attendees have packed up and returned home. Everyone is encouraged to stay in contact and use the hashtag #digped as a gateway to further online conversations.

“The hashtag is a place where the community exists,” says Sean. “We see support being shared by Dig Ped members from all over the globe. It means that attendees always have this community at their fingertips to support them.”

Ontario post-secondary students who were supported by eCampusOntario to attend DPL led a workshop on human-centered design and student voice. Ontario students also engaged critically in their tracks alongside their colleagues.

“DPL was the most eccentric and empowering conference I think I’ve ever attended,” says Chris. “The keynotes, sessions, workshops, all encouraged us to think critically about our own work. Most importantly, the people present inspired me to challenge existing structures and get at what’s really important for education, which is how what we do impacts students.”

Could this mean the return of DPL to Toronto in the future? Sean and his team are enthusiastic about the possibility. “Canadian groups are talking about different things than American groups, and even international groups,” says Sean. “So yes, I would love to come back.”

Visit the DPL Toronto conference website at this link.

DPL Participants (L-R Nada Savicevic, Lena Patterson, Nick Baker, Chris Ferlund, Lillian Hogendoorn)