Leadership Team | About D2L Middle East & Africa
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Leadership

Meet the team who is transforming the way the world learns. Learn more about senior leadership at D2L.

Senior Leadership

Board of Directors

John Baker image

John Baker

President and CEO

John founded D2L in 1999, at the age of twenty-two, while attending the University of Waterloo.
A strong believer in community involvement, he devotes his efforts to supporting young entrepreneurs who are developing and applying technology to improve society.

Read more about John Baker

John Baker

John Baker

President and CEO

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.

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Puneet Arora

Chief Revenue Officer

Puneet is responsible for Global Revenue. He has over twenty years of sales and go to market experience with early stage, mid stage and very successful SaaS companies. He joins us from 8×8, a global telephony and cloud communications leader where he was SVP of Global Sales.

Read more about Puneet Arora

Puneet Arora

Puneet Arora

Chief Revenue Officer

Puneet is responsible for Global Revenue for D2L. He has over 20 years of sales and go to market experience with early stage, mid stage and very successful SaaS companies. He joins us from 8×8, a global telephony and cloud communications leader where he was SVP of Global Sales. There, he was instrumental in assisting the company to double revenue by helping them move upmarket and expand globally through both direct and indirect channels. Puneet was responsible for sales, presales, sales consulting, channel and direct strategy, demand generation, and global sales operations.

Prior to 8×8, Puneet ran North American Sales for Liveperson, a leader in Enterprise Digital Engagement solutions into Midmarket and Enterprise accounts. Prior to Liveperson, Puneet ran Americas West Cloud CRM Sales for Oracle and before that was Vice President of Corporate Sales at Salesforce.com. Earlier in his career, Puneet saw successful IPO’s with Selectica and pcOrder.com.

Puneet got his Bachelors in Computer Engineering from Iowa State University and his MBA from Babson College. Puneet lives in the Bay Area, CA with his wife and 2 kids.

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Jeremy Auger

Chief Strategy Officer

Jeremy drives company-level strategy within D2L, and provides executive leadership of Public Affairs, Strategic Communications, D2L Labs, New Ventures, IP Strategy, and Philanthropy.

Read more about Jeremy Auger

Jeremy Auger

Jeremy Auger

Chief Strategy Officer

Jeremy drives company-level strategy within D2L, and provides executive leadership of Public Affairs, Strategic Communications, D2L Labs, New Ventures, IP Strategy, and Philanthropy.

Jeremy has been actively involved in starting and running transformative tech companies for over twenty years and was part of the founding team at D2L. Since D2L’s founding, he has served as the COO, CTO, and continues to take a leadership role in driving the organization’s success as Chief Strategy Officer.

Beyond the tech sector, Jeremy has also helped advise policymakers in a variety of ways—most recently as a member of the Government of Canada’s Future Skills Council to advise on a national strategy for the future of skills, work, and learning. He is also an advisor on ISTE’s Education Industry Advisory Council, and a national board member for TECHNATION – Canada’s Technology Industry Association. What’s more, he is past chair of the Economic Development Advisory Board for the city of Kitchener (Canada), and former Board Member for the IMS Global Learning Consortium.

Jeremy has an Honours B.Math in Computer Science from the University of Waterloo, and a Master of Science in Management from Wilfrid Laurier University.

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Yvonne Bell

Senior Vice President, People and Culture

Yvonne directs all of D2L’s human resource functions including recruitment, retention, leadership development and career coaching. She also aligns D2L’s HR strategy with our business strategies to drive performance and growth.

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Yvonne Bell

Yvonne Bell

Senior Vice President, People and Culture

Yvonne is responsible for D2L’s people. Specifically, she directs all of D2L’s human resource functions including recruitment, retention, leadership development and career coaching. She also aligns D2L’s HR strategy with our business strategies to drive our company’s organizational performance and growth.

In a twenty-year career, Yvonne has led and implemented large scale change initiatives, Global projects and programs for Leadership Development, Mergers & Acquisitions, Corporate HR Programs, Policies, Processes, and worked collaboratively across countries and functions. Before coming to D2L, Yvonne worked at OpenText, where she was involved in more than 35 acquisitions, led or contributed to HR teams, successfully worked to assimilate acquisitions into company standards and practices, and merged organizations for focus and efficiency and the engagement and integration of cultures and leaders and employees. Yvonne has also held successive positions of responsibility at KPMG Canada.

In addition to her leadership at D2L and developing a sterling reputation in the HR community, Yvonne is passionate about fitness and healthy living. She holds a degree in Social Work and Psychology from the University of Waterloo and a Master’s in leadership development from the University of Western Ontario.

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Tom Donelly

Chief Corporate Development Officer

Tom is responsible for corporate development and new business ventures at D2L. He is focused on building and managing a rich ecosystem of partners and new business models aligned with D2L’s goal to transform the way the world learns.

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Tom Donelly

Tom Donelly

Chief Corporate Development Officer

Tom is responsible for corporate development and new business ventures at D2L. He is focused on building and managing a rich ecosystem of partners and new business models aligned with D2L’s goal to transform the way the world learns.

Tom is the former Chief Operating Officer of Sandvine Incorporated, a Waterloo-based networking company he co-founded in August 2001 that went public on the London and Toronto Stock Exchanges in 2006. Sandvine was acquired by American Private Equity firm Francisco Partners in 2017. Before Sandvine, Tom was Vice President of Global Sales and subsequently Vice President of Strategic Partners at PixStream Incorporated. Cisco Systems acquired PixStream in 1999. Previously, Tom was Vice President of Sales & Marketing for West End Systems, an affiliate of Newbridge Networks.
Tom has lived and worked in Canada, the United Kingdom and Japan but now calls Ottawa home, where he spends much of his time making sure his three children arrive on time at the right arena, pool, or gymnasium.

Tom is a graduate of McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and the Executive Development Program at The Wharton School at The University of Pennsylvania.

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Anna Forgione

General Counsel and Corporate Secretary

Anna brings twenty years of experience in corporate leadership, technology advocacy, business development, negotiations, and strategic planning. She oversees all legal and regulatory matters for D2L worldwide.

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Anna Forgione

Anna Forgione

General Counsel and Corporate Secretary

Anna joined D2L’s legal team in 2013. Anna brings twenty years of experience in corporate leadership, technology advocacy, business development, negotiations, and strategic planning. She oversees all legal and regulatory matters for D2L worldwide. Her responsibilities include directing company transactional, intellectual property, litigation, acquisitions, and compliance matters.

Prior to joining D2L, Anna served as General Counsel Americas for Open Text Corporation and Assistant General Counsel for Geac Computer Corporation. Anna was also a founding executive of Telephony@Work. Anna is an engaged community leader and holds various directorships for non-profit organizations, The Canadian Children’s Opera Company and Bannockburn Montessori School.

Anna holds a J.D. Degree from Osgoode Hall and has been a Member of the Bar in the province of Ontario since 1994.

 
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Elliot Gowans

Senior Vice President, International

Elliot is responsible for D2L's commercial activities outside of North America drawing on his significant experience in the global market. He is passionate about formal and informal education, life-long learning and technology.

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Elliot Gowans

Elliot Gowans

Senior Vice President, International

Elliot Gowans is Senior Vice President, International at D2L and is responsible for D2L’s commercial activities outside of North America. Before he joined D2L in 2015, Elliot spent more than 10 years at software and services firm Blackbaud Inc., where he served in a variety of senior commercial roles, most recently as General Manager within Blackbaud’s European division. Elliot holds an MA (Hons) in Philosophy from The University of Glasgow, an MSc in International Finance & Management from The Open University Business School and a PgDip in Information Management Systems from Glasgow Caledonian University. Elliot is passionate about formal and informal education, life-long learning and technology!
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Melissa Howatson

Chief Financial Officer

Melissa has over twenty years of experience enabling business growth by leading key financial and administrative functions. She brings this experience to D2L to support and identify business opportunities which enable the development and scalability of the organization.

Read more about Melissa Howatson

Melissa Howatson

Melissa Howatson

Chief Financial Officer

Melissa has over twenty years of experience enabling business growth by leading key financial and administrative functions in emergent companies. Coupled with her passion for community involvement, and helping to improve access to numerous social services including education, makes her a valued member of the executive team.

Prior to joining D2L in 2013, Melissa worked as Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer for the technology startups, Qwalify, Primal Fusion, as well as within the automotive industry with Bend All Automotive. Proving her expertise, Melissa has consistently been instrumental in helping companies grow exponentially in dynamic industries. She brings this experience to D2L to support and identify business activities and opportunities which enable the development and scalability of the organization.

Melissa has an Honors Business Administration degree from Wilfrid Laurier University and a CPA-CA designation from KPMG. As well, Melissa is an active community volunteer, having been involved with Junior Achievement, Women’s Crisis Services, Communitech Finance P2P Co-Champion and as the President, Treasurer, and Board Member for Family and Children’s Services Foundation.

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David Koehn

Senior Vice President, Product Management

David leads the product management organization and several strategic portfolios at D2L. He commits time to giving back to literary arts, education, literacy, and wellness non-profits — and is committed to innovation through his accelerator, the Batchery.

Read more about David Koehn

David Koehn

David Koehn

Senior Vice President, Product Management

David Koehn is Senior Vice President of Product Management for D2L where he leads the product management organization and several strategic portfolios. David was formerly the Chief Evangelist for Oracle Cloud Architecture. In his early career, he led the corporate learning efforts at AvantGo (Sybase). David also founded the venture-backed edtech start-up Tailwind. He holds an MFA in English from the University of Florida; a BA in Professional Writing from Carnegie Mellon; received an Annenberg Fellowship for the Breadloaf Teacher Network from Middlebury’s Breadloaf School of English; an MEd from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and is pursuing an MBA from Johns Hopkins University. David commits time to giving back to literary arts, education, literacy, and wellness non-profits — and is committed to innovation through his accelerator, the Batchery.
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Adam Moore

Senior Vice President, Strategic Accounts

Adam brings over twenty years of leadership experience to D2L. He is responsible for overseeing both the sales and account management teams at D2L.

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Adam Moore

Adam Moore

Senior Vice President, Strategic Accounts

Adam is responsible for overseeing both the sales and account management teams at D2L. He is focused on expanding D2L’s presence throughout North America in the higher education, K-12, corporate, and government segments while ensuring the highest level of customer commitment, satisfaction and retention.

Adam brings over twenty years of leadership experience to D2L, having held senior positions with a number of fortune five hundred companies as well as smaller, mid-market, high growth organizations including Purolator Courier, Ryder, and Descartes Systems Group.

Adam graduated from Bishop’s University with a Bachelor of Business Administration.

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Nick Oddson

Chief Technology Officer

Nick brings over twenty years of design and enterprise-level software experience to his role with D2L. He’s responsible for guiding our product team as they continue to scale and develop the company’s industry-leading learning solutions.

Read more about Nick Oddson

Nick Oddson

Nick Oddson

Chief Technology Officer

Nick brings over twenty years of design and enterprise-level software experience to his role with D2L as Chief Technology Officer. He’s responsible for guiding our product team as they continue to scale and develop the company’s industry-leading learning solutions.

During his previous fifteen-year tenure at another Waterloo-based software company, Nick supervised an engineering organization of more than one thousand employees distributed globally across forty offices. He worked extensively with customers and sales support teams around architecture, SaaS enablement, technical analysis of systems integrations, and optimization of deployments and implementations. Beginning in 2005, he took responsibility for the organization’s enterprise products. This included overseeing technical design and architecture evolution, overall product strategy, and further expanding the product portfolio with complimentary offerings.

In addition to supporting local startups as part of Communitech’s Hyperdrive incubator, Nick has also mentored young entrepreneurs through the University of Waterloo’s VeloCity program. He was a 2013 recipient of the Region of Waterloo’s Top 40 Under 40 Award in recognition of his contributions to the local arts and technology communities.

Nick studied Computer Science and Physics at the University of Waterloo.

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April Oman

Senior Vice President, Customer Experience

April is responsible for D2L’s end-to-end customer experience, from the moment their initial onboarding begins throughout their entire journey of launching, optimizing, and expanding their adoption of the Brightspace platform.

Read more about April Oman

April Oman

April Oman

Senior Vice President, Customer Experience

April is responsible for D2L’s end-to-end customer experience, from the moment their initial onboarding begins throughout their entire journey of launching, optimizing, and expanding their adoption of the Brightspace platform and relationship with D2L.

With a passion for enabling customers and helping them achieve their goals, April guides how D2L uses their feedback to drive change and how the company works internally to serve their needs. She oversees several globally distributed teams that are jointly responsible for ensuring the quality and seamlessness of the customer experience. Her group includes D2L’s client services and consulting, training, global support, technical account management, customer success management, community, and documentation teams.

April’s extensive background in customer engagement and experience extends well before the time she joined D2L. Previously, she held leadership positions in the areas of client success and technology program management with Zuora, Salesforce, and Cornerstone OnDemand.

Known as a customer success leader, April is also a frequent speaker at industry conferences and an advisor to start-up companies and customer success professionals around the world. She holds an M.S. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from San Jose State University. Prior to that, she attained her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Fresno State.

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Christian Pantel

Senior Vice President, User Experience Design and Product Development

Christian is responsible for the Brightspace user experience. He brings more than 20 years of leadership experience at notable software companies. With a deep empathy for learners and educators, Christian and his teams design and build experiences that foster lifelong learning for everyone.

Read more about Christian Pantel

Christian Pantel

Christian Pantel

Senior Vice President, User Experience Design and Product Development

As Senior Vice President of User Experience Design and Product Development at D2L, Christian leads teams of UX researchers, product designers, developers, testers, and accessibility specialists in all of D2L’s locations.

In the design and development of products, Christian’s focus is on users. With deep empathy for learners and educators, D2L is able to build experiences that foster lifelong learning for everyone. During his more than five years at D2L, Christian has led a transformation of Brightspace. Always known as a full featured and flexible learning management system, Brightspace is now also recognized for its modern and intuitive user interface.

Christian has over 20 years of experience designing and building user experiences at very successful software companies. Before joining D2L, Christian was the user experience leader at notable enterprise software companies including Workday, Infor, and PeopleSoft. Christian earned a Master of Science in Computing Science from Simon Fraser University, specialized in Human-Computer Interaction and Web-based learning environments. He also holds a Bachelor of Computer Science (Honours) from the University of Manitoba. Christian lives in Winnipeg with his wife and four children.

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Aly Scott

Chief Marketing Officer

Aly is responsible for D2L’s brand identity, product marketing, demand generation, digital marketing, marketing communications, and events programming. She works cross functionally with the product and sales teams to build integrated go-to-market strategies to drive market penetration worldwide.

Read more about Aly Scott

Aly Scott

Aly Scott

Chief Marketing Officer

Aly is responsible for D2L’s brand identity, product marketing, demand generation, digital marketing, marketing communications, and events programming. She works cross functionally with the product and sales teams to build integrated go-to-market strategies to drive market penetration worldwide.

As a corporate executive and three-time CMO, Aly brings with her more than 25 years of marketing and corporate communications experience, including investors relations work in both Toronto and New York. She is based on Concord, MA, just outside of Boston.

Aly has extensive experience in the enterprise SaaS software arena, with the majority of her focus dedicated to the Human Capital Management space, inclusive of corporate learning and development platforms. She understands the importance of collaboration when bringing products to market, accelerating pipeline, and retaining customers. She has also spent considerable time developing and launching brands, building media and public market awareness, and cultivating analyst, partner, and influencer relationships.

Additionally, Aly has also served on the board of a leading secondary school for the last 20 years, where she is currently Chair. In this capacity, she worked extensively on strategic planning to advance the program and pedagogy with international initiatives and blended and remote learning models.

Board of Directors

John Baker image

John Baker

Board Member

Read more about John Baker

John Baker

John Baker

Board Member

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.

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Tim Connor

Board Member

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Tim Connor

Tim Connor

Board Member

Tim Connor is the Operating Partner of NewView Capital, a venture firm based in Burlingame, California and is a Board Member at Sovrn Holdings, Inc.. Tim has 35 years of experience working with high-growth, technology-driven companies from all sides of the entrepreneurial ecosystem as a venture capital investor, investment banker and operating executive with private and public companies. Before joining NewView, Tim was the Chief Financial Officer of Code42, a global enterprise SaaS provider of endpoint data protection and security to more than 50,000 organizations, including the most recognized brands in business and education. He was also Executive in Residence at New Enterprise Associates (NEA) in Menlo Park and CFO with Datalogix — a big data company that optimized marketing by connecting offline consumer spending with online advertising before being acquired by Oracle in January 2015. Tim holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BA in Economics from Washington College.
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J. Ian Giffen

Board Member

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J. Ian Giffen

J. Ian Giffen

Board Member

Mr. J. Ian Giffen FCPA, joined the D2L Board in 2016 and is currently Chairman of Kinaxis Inc. ( KSX.TSX ) and a Director of a number of other private companies. In addition, he is active in the not for profit sector and currently serves on the Boards of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and the Toronto Daily Bread Food Bank.

From 1992 to 1996, Mr. Giffen was Vice-President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer at Alias Research Inc. (until it was sold to Silicon Graphics Inc. for approximately $500 million). Since 1996, Mr. Giffen has advised several private venture investment funds, and has served on the boards of a number of public and private companies including Macromedia Inc., (from 1997 to 2005 until it was sold to Adobe Systems Inc. for $4 billion), Descartes Systems Group Inc. (Chairman from 2004 to 2011), Ruggedcom Inc., MKS Inc., DPS Inc., Corel Corporation Inc., Certicom Corporation Inc., Financial Models Inc., 724 Solutions Inc. (Chairman), Sierra Systems Group Inc., and Open Text Corporation Inc. Mr. Giffen is a Chartered Professional Accountant and a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario (CPA Ontario).and has a Designation in Corporate Finance. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow and worked with KPMG in Glasgow from 1978 to 1982.

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Melissa Howatson

Board Member

Read more about Melissa Howatson

Melissa Howatson

Melissa Howatson

Board Member

Melissa has over twenty years of experience enabling business growth by leading key financial and administrative functions in emergent companies. Coupled with her passion for community involvement, and helping to improve access to numerous social services including education, makes her a valued member of the executive team.

Prior to joining D2L in 2013, Melissa worked as Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer for the technology startups, Qwalify, Primal Fusion, as well as within the automotive industry with Bend All Automotive. Proving her expertise, Melissa has consistently been instrumental in helping companies grow exponentially in dynamic industries. She brings this experience to D2L to support and identify business activities and opportunities which enable the development and scalability of the organization.

Melissa has an Honors Business Administration degree from Wilfrid Laurier University and a CPA-CA designation from KPMG. As well, Melissa is an active community volunteer, having been involved with Junior Achievement, Women’s Crisis Services, Communitech Finance P2P Co-Champion and as the President, Treasurer, and Board Member for Family and Children’s Services Foundation.

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Brian Kobus

Board Observer

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Brian Kobus

Brian Kobus

Board Observer

In his role as Partner at OMERS Ventures, Brian Kobus is responsible for contributing to the identification and execution of investment opportunities for OMERS Ventures in the Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) sectors.

Brian brings 15 years of experience in the areas of technology, venture capital and finance to his role at OMERS Ventures. Previously, Brian was VP Technology Alliances at ScribbleLive, a leading content marketing software-as-a-service platform, where he was responsible for establishing, managing and growing relationships with partners.

Prior to joining ScribbleLive, Brian was with Summerhill Venture Partners, a TMT-focused venture capital firm where he worked closely with a number of successful high growth companies. Earlier in his career Brian worked on numerous M&A and financing transactions, first at Morgan Stanley and then at Bell Canada Enterprises.

Brian holds both an MBA and an Honors Business Administration degree from the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario, and is also a CFA charter holder.

Fueling up:

Upskilling to grow careers

Name: Zaria
Age: 27

Policy prescriptions: Invest in a Learning-Integrated Life; Transform the learning of today with new partnerships; Accelerate the shift to skills-based learning and hiring

Zaria has five years of work experience and is ready to change jobs and enter a field that has high growth potential in her region. The national government has been investing in collecting better skills-based labour market information for years and has developed a public platform to offer individuals specialized tools to assess their skills against current market needs, and to locate employers that are currently hiring.

On the employer side, the human resources team is closely examining a recent internal skills audit done at their organization and determines that the organization needs additional digital marketing specialists. They initiate a search for individuals with the skills they will soon need and spot a strong candidate in Zaria who requires only light training on regulatory issues regarding the sale of electric vehicles, along with some formal skills development courses on social media marketing strategy. After a successful interview, Zaria is offered the job.

Upon joining, Zaria will receive an educational benefits stipend from the company, and access to a company-provided platform of curated programs for skills building from approved providers. Upon completion of a set of courses, Zaria will receive a credential from a company approved program verifying her technical knowledge and marking the end of her probationary period at the company. To ensure she continues to build her skills, she will move into a formal mentor program with one of her colleagues to receive continual peer-to-peer feedback on her demonstration of skills and knowledge. information

This affordable and accessible learning through employer-funded training has enabled Zaria to begin working while also upskilling to ensure her long-term success in the company and growing industry. The employer is investing in its employees, and company leaders are thinking further into the future about the skills the company needs, and the types of job candidates who will succeed. This match, based on skills potential, was made possible because of government investment in high-quality labour market information and a national platform that matches job candidates with career opportunities based on the candidates’ skills and the identified skill needs of a given job.

Taking the road less travelled:

A networked postsecondary education

Name: Sam
Age: 18

Policy prescriptions: Transform the learning of today with new partnerships

Sam is a prospective postsecondary student who has always been interested in pursuing a global and interdisciplinary education. Sam’s siblings have all instilled in her the importance of studying abroad, having spoken fondly of their academic exchange semesters, field research trips, and intensive language immersion programs. She is inspired, but unsure whether this pathway will be available if she chooses not to complete a four-year degree at one institution.

Sam is interested in understanding how emerging technologies can be used to modernize and improve government services—an area in need of talent not only in her home country of Canada but also abroad. She could take on a general political science, public administration, engineering, or computer science degree at the university close to her home, but none of those degrees feels like the right fit to build the skills she needs to pursue this career interest.

While researching options, Sam learns of a new degree completion pathway that allows students to take courses from a network of universities, colleges, and polytechnic institutions throughout Canada and stack them for skills-based  credentials that are recognized by major Canadian employers. A set of four of these credentials grants an individual a degree-equivalent endorsed by each institution. Sam identifies the skills and knowledge she wants to work towards and charts out four credential pathways:

  1. Service delivery design
  2. Change management
  3. Applications of emerging technologies (e.g., artificial intelligence)
  4. Machinery of government

With this customized learning pathway, Sam has full flexibility to decide how she wants to structure her courses, the institutions within the network she will study at, and the format and model of courses she prefers—whether live in-class instruction or online courses.

Cost flexibility is built in as well—students pay a standard fee based on the number of competencies they intend to learn rather than the normal standard of ‘credit hours’. The province in which Sam lives has endorsed this networked model of  postsecondary education and adjusted its financial assistance program to better support students. Grants and other non-repayable assistance take into consideration the number of courses the student is taking across all institutions when assessing financial need. Previously, Sam would have been required to be a full-time student at every institution to receive support.

Sam also has the option of starting with foundational courses or applying for Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) information so her existing knowledge and skills can be tested and she can move on to more advanced topics.

Sam completes her first three credentials in three years and uses her certifications to apply for a one-year work-integrated learning experience with the federal government in Germany where she can learn first-hand about the applications of artificial intelligence in government. When she returns home, she applies for PLAR to certify her learning on the machinery of government and is granted a degree acknowledging her four-part customized education.

The collaboration between universities, polytechnics, and colleges to create a networked approach to degree completion, and its endorsement by the provincial government, allowed Sam to graduate as an alumnus of multiple postsecondary education institutions. Her exposure to different thought spaces and networks was highly valuable for ensuring she was engaged throughout her education and set up for post-graduation success. In the rapidly evolving field she has chosen, she understands how important it is to continuously upskill, and is prepared to return to formal education for more stackable credentials as she continues throughout her career.

Route guidance:

Personalized professional development

Name: ZheYuan
Age: 33

Policy prescriptions: Prepare teachers for their own lifelong learning journeys; Accelerate the shift to skills-based learning and hiring

ZheYuan is about to join Marama’s school as a new secondary school teacher. He completed his professional teacher education a decade ago, and teaching looks a bit different today than it did when he was studying. With the incorporation of learning technologies in the classroom, and expectations of teachers delivering competency-based education information, he needs personalized professional development to feel comfortable and supported in this new opportunity.

The school district has been on its own learning journey since shifting to a competency-based education model, and has had some growing pains. Over time, the district has come to recognize that success depends on school administrators working closely with teachers to co-create systems of instruction, and pathways to professional development. The district has its own online learning management system (LMS) for teacher professional development, with a catalogue of content covering a range of subjects including:

  • Strategies for student-centred instruction
  • Design thinking—how to prototype and iterate on solutions to test new approaches
  • Online content—using learning management systems to advance competency-based education
  • Data analysis—interpreting student progress

ZheYuan is excited that he can take on professional learning to suit his needs on his own schedule. He recalls an earlier time when he had to spend nine hours a month in-person taking the same professional development courses as his peers who were teaching very different subjects and had varied skill levels and pedagogical needs than him, which was less than effective.

ZheYuan can also take advantage of his teacher community in the LMS, connecting both in asynchronous chats and in live discussions with other teachers and experts from across his region to ask questions and share his experiences. He sees some upcoming dialogues hosted by his school district to share learnings and signs up for those sessions, knowing he will get a valuable peer perspective from other teachers. ZheYuan is thankful that his school leaders recognize and value professional learning and provide the supports and the time needed for improvement.

D2L Whitepaper Contributors

Lead Authors:
Malika Asthana, Manager, Strategy and Public Affairs
Joe Pickerill, Senior Director, Strategy and Public Affairs, International

Contributors:
Jeremy Auger, Chief Strategy Officer
Mark Schneiderman, Senior Director, Future of Teaching and Learning
Brendan Desetti, Senior Director, Strategy and Public Affairs, United States
Mike Semansky, Senior Director, Strategy and Public Affairs, Canada
Nia Brown, Senior Manager, Strategy and Public Affairs

In the driver’s seat:

Owning the personalized learning journey

Name: Marama
Age: 14

Policy prescriptions: Prepare teachers for their own lifelong learning journeys; Accelerate the shift to skills-based learning and hiring

Marama is enrolled in a school with a competency-based education model information. Students are responsible for owning the personalization of their learning pathways, making choices alongside their teachers in how and when they learn.iii Teachers play a central role in guiding and validating all learning, regardless of where it takes place—offering formative assessments to evaluate a student’s mastery of skills and knowledge. Teachers use data from these assessments, gathered through an online learning management system (LMS), to differentiate instruction and provide targeted supports so that all students progress toward graduation. As a student diagnosed with a learning disability, Marama is supported in her education by this personalized learning pathway.

All students complete an assessment in ninth grade to identify their natural strengths as a learner. Their teachers use the results as inputs to design tailormade educational pathways with learning materials and activities that suit the individual students’ learning needs. In Marama’s case, this includes:

  1. Supplementing lecture-based teaching with structured but independent reading
  2. Shadowing professionals who work on the concepts she is learning about
  3. Taking the stories and lessons she’s learned and sharing it back with classmates by designing a creative and interactive presentation

Over the course of the school year, Marama spends a third of her time in live lectures (sometimes online) with her teacher alongside other classmates—but the rest of her time is spent learning in the ways that suit her best. She can log into her online LMS from her mobile device to access her school resources and complete on her own schedule before the assigned deadline. When Marama finds a concept that interests her, she can ask her teachers and counsellor for support in finding a working professional to speak to, or work alongside for a couple weeks, from the network her school has curated over time. And when she has learned something, she is encouraged to reinforce her learning by applying her skills and developing content to share back with her classmates.

Marama’s personalized learning journey empowers her to own her education by learning in ways that are effective for her, with the support that allows her to be successful. Her teachers have high-quality data about student strengths and performance they can share with her parents to show them how she is mastering specific skills, and where she may need extra support. Her school experience empowers her to embrace her subject interests very early on, and she advances to deeper topics quickly as she submits evidence of learning that demonstrates her proficiency. She graduates having cultivated a mindset for self-directed learning early in her education.