For as long as I can remember, “back to school” has been an exciting time. It’s always great to get back to class. I certainly felt that way, both in my school-age years and as a university student. And now I watch with hopeful anticipation as my daughters eagerly await the start of their new school year. It’s also an exciting time for educators, who have worked hard to make sure the next few months of learning are fulfilling and rewarding for everyone.
In my own life, I’ve been inspired by my parents and their careers as educators to help make education inspiring and rewarding for everyone. I believe that transforming the learning experience can have a ripple effect on the world by helping people make progress and by making life better in our communities, in our companies and on our campuses.
This year, learners around the world can look forward to making even more progress because the major disruptions of the past two years are now, hopefully, behind us.
But that’s not to say we have fully recovered from the impact, or that things are the same as they ever were. Our recent period of uncertainty brought a lot of change, including new technology. Whether it’s in schools, in higher education or in companies, technology has come to play a significant role in everyday learning. At D2L, we’re excited about the possibilities and opportunities that technology can introduce for learners and educators, even as we are clear-eyed about the challenges.
That’s why, as students of all ages return to their studies, I want to highlight how learning can be most impactful when it is centered on three key concepts.
Learning that is human
Learning that is human is all about building strong connections between learners, between learners and teachers, and between learners and learning experiences. That’s what can affect and inspire the student, who then goes on to inspire and affect others and ultimately to help change the world.
D2L Brightspace can support learning that is human by delivering insights such as:
- activity trends (e.g. what learning activities are delivering both engagement and better outcomes)
- detailed views of individual and group learning interactions that can quickly detect struggling learners so educators can respond with timely support
- snapshots of student progress against outcomes to help you focus on addressing gaps immediately
And Brightspace also includes a Communication Planning playbook so educators can stay connected to their learners and keep the momentum going.
Learning that is personal
Personalized learning can be an individual undertaking, or it can work in a group setting. Ultimately, learning that is personal is about creating options that can allow learners and educators to make strategic choices to help better support the individual learning journey. To do that, Brightspace helps teachers:
- develop remedial materials and enrichment activities
- release content according to student needs
- automatically nudge students with the right messaging to get them on track
- offer accommodations when necessary
Most importantly, Brightspace helps make personalized learning scalable and successful. Teachers can spend less time coordinating and more time doing what they do best—supporting their students as they learn and grow.
Learning that is equitable and accessible
At D2L, empathy is at the heart of design thinking—which means our designs start with accessibility and equitability in mind. That’s why Brightspace includes accessibility features such as:
- automatic closed captioning in uploaded videos in multiple languages
- responsive design to help improve the experience on mobile devices
- color contrast and built-in accessibility checker
- accessible and mobile-friendly content templates
Learning can truly change the world when it includes and encourages learners.
I remain inspired by the grand challenge of changing our world for the better, and I know educators do too. It’s not enough to cobble together digital tools. We need to digitize experiences. We need to optimize for better outcomes. And we need to transform the experience to make learning more human, personal, engaging, and inspiring—helping more people achieve more than they ever dreamed possible.
So, as classes head back into session, my wish for everyone is success, inspiration and continued confidence that education is how we make the world a better place. I wish that for learners, parents and guardians, and educators at all levels.
Have a great year!
John founded D2L in 1999, at the age of twenty-two, while attending the University of Waterloo. D2L is a global software company that believes learning is the foundation upon which all progress and achievement rests.
A strong believer in community involvement, John devotes both his personal and business efforts to supporting young entrepreneurs who are developing and applying technology to improve society worldwide.
He was appointed to the Governing Council of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Member (Entrepreneurs’ Circle) of the Business Council of Canada, Business Higher Education Roundtable, Past Chair of the Board of Communitech, and is a board member of Canada’s National Ballet School.
John was awarded the Meritorious Service Cross, the EY Entrepreneur of the Year (Ontario for Software and Technology), Young Alumni Achievement Medal from University of Waterloo, and Intrepid Entrepreneur of the Year in Waterloo Region Hall of Fame.
John graduated from the University of Waterloo with an Honours B.A.Sc. in Systems Design Engineering, with First Class Honours and an option in Management Sciences.
LinkedIn: John Baker
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