The god of past and future

Fun Fact: the month of January is NOT named after the Roman god “Janus,” but it probably should be. In Roman mythology, Janus was the god of beginnings, endings, doorways, transitions and time. He is depicted as having two faces – one looking towards the future and one looking towards the past. The figure of two-headed Janus was often perched over doorways – monitoring those coming in, and those going out.

Family time

At this time of year, we’re all doing our best impression of Janus – we’re busy wrapping up the year that passed and getting all our plans rolled out for the new year. It’s a time of year that always has me in a reflective mood – at least, if I have the time to be reflective.

In our family these days, finding time is a bit of a challenge. We welcomed our second daughter in two years into our lives this year. And – some of you parents will appreciate this – we found that our workload and the amount of baby gear didn’t just double, as you might expect, but rather they grew exponentially. Somehow, sharing your life with two little humans under the age of two bends the laws of space and time.

Still, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I find myself looking back – and looking forward – with gratitude and joy.

Looking back

It’s been a pretty good year at D2L, too. Our corporate family is growing and changing too – as I saw firsthand at Fusion and Ignite and other events this year. Our customers are engaged and excited about our products – and our fall release was a huge hit with our users as our new platform re-imagined teaching and learning.

With the rapid adoption of our Daylight user experience and our latest microservices-based cloud architecture – we are keeping our clients on the leading edge with one of the most modern, reliable, and mobile-ready learning systems in the industry. Plus, we saw the adoption of new approaches to teaching and learning with a growing number of our clients launching new competency-based learning programs. We are proud to play a role supporting these transformations in how we teach and learn!

We were recognized – once again – as one of Waterloo’s Top Employers and Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Culture. That’s a great vote of confidence in the hard work we put into creating a culture of awesome at D2L.

We also increased our worldwide presence – reaching millions of new learners in partnership with our clients. Plus, we were named a winner in the Best of Elearning! 2017 Awards – an award chosen by users who named Brightspace a best-in-class solution in the education technology marketplace.

Looking ahead

In the year to come, I think we can expect to see the further development of several trends in education that we saw in 2017.

I think we will continue to see further discussion about the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). States have been proceeding with their applications and the Department of Education has been approving them, but the long-term status of the act will be something we will need to keep an eye on.

One major trend – online and blended learning – will continue to dominate the EdTech and K-12 learning landscape in the coming year. Increasingly, a combination of online and blended learning reflects the way people learn in the real world – and it allows both technology and teachers to each do what they do best to the benefit of learners.

I also think we’re going to see continued growth in Competency Based Education. As more and more places use some form of CBE, and as the case for its effectiveness becomes even stronger, I believe we will see more schools and businesses move forward with implementation.

Challenges remain

There are a few trends looming in EdTech that pose challenges to the industry and to educators. For example, there will be an ongoing and growing need for a device-agnostic interface to LMSes. Multiple systems will need to be integrated for deeper analytics. And we’re going to continue to see non-traditional learners’ needs coming to the fore in higher education.

We’re working to improve the Brightspace Learning Environment to provide better access for educators and learners alike, and I’m excited by a number of developments we have in store to make learning even more accessible for more students.

Of course, not even Janus is all-knowing. We can only look forward so far into an uncertain future. As we do at the start of every new year, we look forward in hope and anticipation of what is to come, rather than with a sure sense of what will happen.

That’s why the actual deity that January is named for – Juno – is a much more appropriate choice. For the ancient Romans, she represented youth, beauty, and a hopeful and vital energy. As we move into a new year, I’m excited to move forward and tackle new challenges and seize new opportunities. I find myself even more energized and excited to go to work today than I was when I started D2L in my 3rd year of university.

I can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store.

Here’s wishing you – and your family – Happy New Year!

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