Skip to content


  • Monday 31st May, 9:00AM - 10:30AM

    Pandemic Reflections on the OTESSA Conference Themes

    Dr. Bonnie Stewart, University of Windsor; Dr. George Veletsianos, Royal Roads University; Dr. Valerie Irvine, University of Victoria

    Join well-known members of the OTESSA community for our opening plenary panel, chaired by OTESSA program co-chairs Michele Jacobsen and Anne-Marie Scott. This session will kick off our inaugural conference with reflections and discussions on our conference themes and the impact of the pandemic.

  • Tuesday 1st June, 10:30AM - 12:00PM

    Supporting Student Engagement in a Connected North

    Michael Furdyk, TakingITGlobal

    Co-founder Michael Furdyk and members of TakingITGlobal’s education team will share how they’ve worked to adapt and enhance their programming to respond to COVID-19 and prioritize student engagement and well-being. Connected North serves over 100 schools in remote Indigenous communities with live, interactive learning experiences, Create to Learn focuses on the development of digital skills through creative role models, and Future Pathways supports transitions into post-secondary education and careers.

    Michael Furdyk is the Co-founder of TakingITGlobal (, which provides innovative global education programs that empower youth to understand and act on local and global challenges. TIG was awarded the Tech Museum Award for Innovation in Education, and the Intercultural Innovation Award by BMW and the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations. Michael has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, presented at TED, and was named one of Teen People’s “Twenty Teens that will Change the World”. He has keynoted over 100 events across sectors, sharing his technology expertise and insights on youth engagement to audiences in over 30 countries. He received his Master of Design (MDes) in Inclusive Design from OCAD University and is an Adjunct Professor for the M.S. in Educational Technology program at Long Island University.

  • Wednesday 2nd June, 10:30AM - 12:00PM

    Pandemic Paupers and Princes

    Prof. Laura Czerniewicz, University of Cape Town

    Gains and losses for public higher education have taken both expected and unexpected forms as a result of the “online pivot”. Various forms of inequity have come sharply into focus, and new possibilities are open to us. This talk will draw on pandemic experiences within a South African context in order to explore wider themes and learnings that we must carry forward as we imagine the post-pandemic University.

    Laura Czerniewicz was the first director of the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (CILT), at the University of Cape Town, (2014 to 2020) having previously led UCT’s Centre for Educational Technology, OpenUCT Initiative and Multimedia Education Group. Her many roles in education over the years include academic, researcher, strategist, advocate, teacher, teacher-trainer and educational publisher. Threaded through all her work has been a focus on equity and digital inequality. These have permeated her research interests which focus on the changing nature of higher education in a digitally-mediated society and new forms of teaching and learning provision. She plays a key strategic and scholarly role in the areas of blended /online learning as well as in open education institutionally, nationally and internationally.

    Find Laura on Twitter at @czernie and on her newish blogsite