We are excited to welcome Dr. Cristi Ford as the Vice President of Academic Affairs at D2L. Dr. Ford will be sharing research and insights into different issues higher education faces today via master classes, a podcast and blogs as part of D2L’s Teaching and Learning Studio.
As I pondered the best way to introduce myself to you all, I realized that in one way or another, I’ve always been an educator. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved the excitement of watching someone learn something new. Whether it was seeing a graduate student of mine understand a new concept, a student in a fitness class I taught master the proper form, or my daughters finally get the hang of bike riding after several attempts, being part of the teaching and learning process has always brought me joy.
As I step into my new role at D2L with over 20 years’ experience as a professional educator, I am filled with that same excitement. I’m thrilled about the ways in which my service to this great company will bring about deeper insights into the learning process for the countless faculty, staff and students we serve.
While my philosophy of learning has been shaped by my varied experiences as an educator, it can be summed up by a TedTalk I watched in 2015. Emilie Wapnick spoke about the importance of multipotentialites to our society. Multipotentialites are individuals who have a wide variety of interests and passions and who, more importantly, feel no need to limit themselves to only one or just a few of them. Multipotentialites fully develop their many interests and passions; they are energized by the pursuit of new ideas and skills. They are the Maya Angelous (poet, activist, dancer, singer, memoirist, playwright) and Leonardo da Vincis (artist, mathematician, writer, inventor) of the world.
As an educator, I believe we are charged with the sacred task of encouraging individuals to be passionate in as many different areas as possible. I want to hear the chatter of students flowing across the campus and walking into classrooms feeling inspired. While conventional thinking may stress the need to train our students to be experts in one particular field, the world of innovation and our survival in a post-pandemic world demands that we teach students to instead be adaptable and resilient so they can lean into their vast and diverse interests, abilities and passions. We are charged with finding ways to facilitate and cultivate the ideas and skills that bring our students joy and fulfillment.
This is the beauty of what D2L offers—it gives educators access to the tools to facilitate and cultivate ideas and skills among all students, especially those who have traditionally been left out.
Working to reduce barriers and increase access to different modalities of education is something I’ve been doing for the past several years. This is the work that I will continue in my new role. I’ve had the opportunity to work in many educational sectors, including K-12, special education, higher education, nonprofit and global education in East Africa. Throughout, my mission has remained the same—to create access and impact for learners who have been on the fringes. Whether it’s educating young women in a male-dominated country, building pathways for young people with autism to excel or even creating innovative educational interventions, my goal is to leave each place and person better than they were when I was first introduced to them.
It is with this same drive that I come to my new role at D2L, bringing these rich experiences of teaching and learning with me. I come with a continued desire to improve and expand the ways in which we envision the kinds of learning environments students today require—learning environments where the next generation of multipotentialites, regardless of their backgrounds, can flourish and thrive.
Dr. Cristi Ford serves as the Vice President of Academic Affairs at D2L. She brings more than 20 years of cumulative experience in higher education, secondary education, project management, program evaluation, training and student services to her role. In this role, she offers thought leadership and direction to the academic affairs unit of the organization. Her previous roles have allowed her to have impact in secondary and higher education settings within North America and as part of the international landscape. Her reach has allowed her to focus on building online education in the U.S. and Africa.