Aristotle wrote that “education is an ornament in prosperity and a refuge in adversity.” While I don’t think education is “ornamental” after the past two years, I definitely feel like education is a refuge in adversity.
Looking back at this past year—and the year before it—it would be tempting to dwell on the pandemic-related adversity we’ve all endured. I’d rather focus on the myriad of ways that education has lifted us all up.
I have been inspired by primary school teachers who have been teaching students from their living rooms, parents who leaned in to support their kids’ education while balancing work responsibilities, and university professors who nimbly moved between online and in-person, synchronous and asynchronous, learning. We’ve all seen our educators, families, friends, and learners work together to overcome and adapt to challenging times. Educators kept us connected, learning, and moving forward. And it’s that adaptation—that strength—that inspires me most as I look back at the year that was.
The same was true at D2L. In a year in which we were all working hard to help keep learners around the world engaged, our team did some pretty extraordinary things. So, in the spirit of looking at ways we moved forward in the year that has passed, I want to share five things I’m personally grateful for at D2L:
- The Launch of D2L Wave: This new product is all about upskilling for business—something that’s really needed right now. D2L Wave is all about upskilling for business—something that’s really needed right now. D2L Wave empowers employees to choose an education path that supports career growth and business strategy. It’s a curated course catalog from academic institutions designed to quickly solve key challenges faced by businesses today. And most importantly, it is helping people seize the opportunities before them and embrace lifelong learning in a big way.
- The Work of the People and Culture Team: You might not see their work on the outside of the company, but everyone inside D2L is incredibly grateful for the work of our People and Culture Team. At a time of unprecedented company growth, they’ve been bringing great new talent on board—developers and engineers to strengthen our platform, representatives to support and engage our customers, administrators to enable the whole company to operate, and the list goes on. The People and Culture Team has made us more diverse, more inclusive, and more focused on our mission, vision, and values, all of which I am tremendously grateful for.
- The Big Threshold: There are lots of milestones we’ve reached as a company this year. From winning awards for our customer experience (best in all EdTech) and corporate culture to expanding our workforce to being recognized for the excellence of our products, D2L has been on the move. But the one stat that really sums it up for me is the growth of our user base: we now support a growing population of over 15 million people across K–12, higher ed, and corporate markets, resulting in over 2.3 billion logins on D2L Brightspace in Fiscal 2021. When I started our company, I wanted to change the way the world learns, and this year, the numbers show us doing exactly that.
- The IPO: It was a big deal. 2021 was the year D2L became a public company. There was an enormous amount of work that went on behind the scenes, of course, and any time you make a big strategic move like that, there are some sleepless nights—and I’m incredibly pleased with how it all turned out. This will help us continue the transformational learning journey we’ve been on with our customers for over two decades now.
- The Support of Loved Ones: The best—and the most important—thing I am grateful for I saved for last. Nothing we do as a company is possible without the love and support we show each other as colleagues and friends. We have people in our company and within our client base whom we work so closely with—many of whom have been here since the very beginning. Others have been here for less time but have fit right in. The D2L extended community has always been—and will always be—a close-knit team.
As we head into the holidays, my deepest wish is for you and my D2L team to spend some meaningful and relaxing time with family. I am so proud of what we have achieved together in 2021 and look forward to working with you in 2022!
Happy holidays, everyone!
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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