Workshop Leaders
Abstracts & Bios

ChristaMorrison SQ

Christa Morrison


Session 1: Basics of Microsoft Teams for Teaching and Collaborating 

This workshop is intended for those new to using Microsoft Teams. I will provide an introduction on how Microsoft Teams and integrated Microsoft 365 apps can be used for remote and online teaching/learning as well as team work. We will explore use cases, good practices for sharing content and capturing conversations, and strategies to engage team members (students/staff) in a synchronous and asynchronous manner. Participants will leave with a basic understanding of setting up their teaching to be ready for MS Teams.

Session 2: Advanced Microsoft Teams for Teaching and Collaborating 

This workshop is intended for those already familiar with Microsoft Teams or have completed Session 1. The platform has been regularly updated with new features to improve its function as a collaboration tool, ideal for inclusive social-emotional teaching, learning, events and group work. Whether you are a TA, instructor, manager or meeting/event organizer, you can benefit by making use of the robust meeting and Teams features to communicate, collaborate, and create or share content. This session will also cover accessibility and privacy features.


Christa Morrison (Business Systems Specialist) is part of the Collaboration and Productivity Services Team in the Central IT Department at McMaster University. The team is involved in many initiatives that focus on the delivery and adoption of cloud services to enable and foster collaboration, productivity, creativity, and innovation. Christa has a background in higher education teaching (Journalism – New Media) and was for three years in the Digital Pedagogy Specialist role at the Paul R. MacPherson Institute for Leadership, Innovation and Excellence in Teaching.


Kate Brown SQ

Kate Brown


Jessica Blackwood edit SQ

Jessica Blackwood


Applying the 7 Core Skills of Digital Accessibility for Inclusive Teaching 

The shift to online learning, teaching, and remote work over the past year has resulted in the creation of new, and amplification of pre-existing, barriers to accessibility in physical, social and digital environments. Integrating accessible design into digital course and web content creation, as well as daily communications, has never been more important to facilitate an equitable and inclusive educational community. During this session, participants will learn about the 7 Core Skills of Digital Accessibility and how they can be applied across digital environments (related to both digital platforms, as well as content published on or uploaded to platforms). These skills will also assist attendees in understanding how to meet Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and Web Content Accessibility Guideline (WCAG) 2.0 AA compliance guidelines.

By the end of the session, attendees will:

  1. Gain theoretical understanding of concepts and frameworks of digital accessibility
  2. Be introduced to definitions of the “7 Core Skills of Digital Accessibility”, initially coined by the University of Minnesota
  3. Connect how the 7 Core Skills of Digital Accessibility can be applied to software used by instructors, including: Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Outlook
  4. Learn how to successfully implement alternative text, document structure, colour contrast, links, lists, tables, and video/audio, through observing live demonstrations during the session


Kate Brown is the Accessibility Program Manager and the coordinator of the Employee Accessibility Network for employees who self-identify with disability at McMaster University; she is currently co-coordinating a User Testing Pilot Program within the University, partnering students and staff with lived experience of disability and assistive technology expertise with units on-campus needing accessibility testing carried out of their web environments. Kate partners frequently with instructors, as well as the MacPherson Institute, to better support the dissemination and take-up of accessible (digital and non-digital) education principles and practices at the University.


Jessica Blackwood MSc, BHSc, is the Accessible Digital Media Specialist Supervisor in the Faculty of Science at McMaster University. They currently work to audit and remediate educational and promotional materials within the Faculty and educate the McMaster community on how accessible and inclusive practices can be integrated into everyday practices in our digital world.


Andrew LoGiudice edit SQ

Andrew LoGiudice


Sam Clark edit SQ

Sam Clarke


Creating mental health-positive environments via principles of universal design 

This workshop focuses on the creation of mental health-positive learning environments and the tenets of universal design. We will first set a foundation by discussing research on mental health in postsecondary settings, including recent trends and promising initiatives. Key topics will center around accessibility, equity, and community-building via course design—especially in light of online learning and the pandemic. The group will then be guided through several case-based exercises to make the discussion more concrete. Approaching these topics with curiosity rather than judgement, our hope is that the conversation will draw upon the diverse backgrounds of everyone in the group, allowing us all to share and elucidate best practices.


Dr. Andrew LoGiudice is a Postdoctoral Fellow from the MacPherson Institute here at McMaster. With roots in cognitive psychology and the science of learning, his research interests pertain to the retention and transfer of knowledge, science communication, course design, and more recently, mental health and well-being in postsecondary education. He has enjoyed teaching at many levels—both behind the scenes as an educational developer and at the front of the classroom for various undergraduate and graduate courses. Above all, Andrew values compassionate educators who celebrate learning as a deeply human endeavour, and he strives to make that compassion a reality for all aspiring students.


Sam Clarke is an educational developer at the MacPherson Institute for Leadership, Innovation and Excellence in Teaching here at McMaster. She specializes in accessible and equitable educational practices, as well as community-building and engagement in blended and online learning contexts. Sam is working toward completing her PhD in the Department of History, where she has put pedagogical theory into practice as a teaching assistant and sessional instructor. As an instructor, Sam's teaching philosophy is premised on compassion: just as she seeks to understand the motives behind historical actors' decisions, she seeks to understand students' needs and motivations for learning in order to better support them in achieving their goals. She believes in student-centred learning experiences, including active learning, multiple methods of engagement, representation, and expression, and feedback which is supportive and solutions-based. Both learning and teaching are iterative processes and the goal should be to continuously improve and grow.


Erin Allard edit SQ

Erin Allard


Rebecca Taylor SQ

Rebecca Taylor


Revisiting Your Teaching Philosophy Statement Following A Year of Pandemic Teaching 

As an educator, your teaching beliefs and teaching philosophy statement will naturally evolve as you accumulate teaching experience over time. After an unprecedented year of pandemic teaching, taking time to reflect on how you have evolved can enhance your teaching philosophy statement and the teaching practices you implement moving forward. In this workshop, you will reflect on your teaching and learning beliefs, strategies, impact, and goals; discuss with a peer how your teaching philosophy may have changed as a result of the past year; revisit and revise your existing philosophy statement (or draft a new one!) to reflect your evolved conceptions of teaching and learning; and engage in peer review with your updated philosophy. Participants are asked to have their existing teaching philosophy statement at-the-ready for this workshop.

By the end of the workshop, you should be able to:

  1. Reflect on your teaching and learning beliefs, strategies, impact, and goals
  2. Discuss how your teaching philosophy has changed from pre- to post-pandemic
  3. Revise your teaching philosophy statement so that it reflects your current teaching identity


Dr. Erin Allard is a Lead Educational Developer at McMaster’s Paul R. MacPherson Institute for Leadership, Innovation and Excellence in Teaching where she has worked since 2012. Currently, she is responsible for the Professional Development for Teaching mandate area, overseeing the Institute’s centrally offered teaching development programing for teaching assistants, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, instructors, faculty, and staff.


Rebecca Taylor is an Educational Developer with the MacPherson Institute. In her role, Rebecca supports the delivery of various teaching and learning supports for faculty, instructors, staff, and graduate students, and leads the MacPherson Institute’s Feedback Services portfolio and the Faculty of Health Sciences Liaison Team. Rebecca’s interests include feedback on teaching practices, student evaluations of teaching, policy in post-secondary education, and indigenization and decolonization of teaching and learning.


Irina Ghilic SQ

Irina Ghilic


EdCog Amy Pachai

Amy Pachai


Learning from Experience: How Design Thinking can Create Impactful Learning Experiences 

Experience designers have a motto: "great experiences don't happen accidentally". An engaging learning experience requires intentionality, which can be achieved by planning the details of the experience and creating an environment conducive to learning. Whether we are designing an experience or engaging as participants, there are three phases to any experience: anticipation (before), participation (during), and reflection (after). We will explore how to have an impact in all three phases by applying the Design Thinking process: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, test, and implement. In this workshop, we will consider how the design thinking principles can be applied to (re)designing courses.

A key factor to applying learning experience design in your work is to foster an environment of co-creation: students, instructors, and staff all play an important role in creating effective and exciting learning experiences. To this end, we will discuss the applications of the design thinking process not only to creating the course, but also for use within the course as an experiential learning opportunity for students. When students tackle real world problems related to their courses, the design thinking process provides structure to their problem solving and, therefore, to their learning.

Whether your learning experience is related to course refinement or experiential learning opportunities, let's ask ourselves: how might we insert touchpoints in those learning experiences that allow for discovery, play, teamwork, wellness, and reflection? In this workshop, we will explore how to insert learning experience design touchpoints that make learning "stick".

By the end of this workshop session, participants will be able to:

  1. Understand the elements of the design thinking process as they relate to course refinement and experiential learning;
  2. Apply these elements to course design through prepared and self-generated examples; and
  3. Plan for future learning experience design through shared templates and resources.


Irina Ghilic is currently an Educational Developer on the Teaching and Learning Services team at DeGroote School of Business, McMaster University. Learning is a process, and designing learning experiences requires a multifaceted approach. As an Educational Developer, Irina explores a learner’s entire journey and assists clients, faculty, and staff in creating learner-centric solutions that go beyond the traditional boundaries of instructional design. She uses pedagogical approaches, multimedia design best practices, research-based standards in online learning, and design thinking practices to enhance the learning experience. As a Ph.D. Candidate in Cognitive and Educational research, Irina’s hope is to work on bridging the gap between cognitive science, learning strategies, and teaching practices. Her work philosophy is at the crossroads of where cognitive science, technology, and design intersect.


Dr. Amy Pachai is currently an Educational Developer on the Teaching and Learning Services team at DeGroote School of Business, McMaster University. In this role, she worked with instructors, staff, and students to create and execute an innovative new blended learning MBA program for working professionals, launched in Fall 2018. Now, she supports the faculty and staff across DeGroote on their courses and programs from design through to feedback and continuous improvement. Prior to this role, her doctoral research explored ways to reduce mind wandering and improve learning. She has facilitated workshops for diverse audiences on topics such as creating effective assessments, maximizing the impact of your LMS, scientific writing skills, business communication, and study strategies for students. Through these experiences, she has experimented with many tools and techniques to foster engagement, improve comprehension, assess learning, and promote collaboration.


Dr Deena Kara Shaffer SQ

Deena Kara Shaffer


Diana Brecher SQ

Diana Brecher

Somatic Strategies for Academic Thriving: Learning With and From the Breath and Body

We often think of learning strategies as tips or tools, as metacognitive research and insights, but are we limiting what ‘counts’? When we build our learning strategy repertoires, and support our students in building theirs, what do we include, and what do we leave out? In this follow-up to their successful 2020 presentation on Mind-Body-Heart-Spirit Learning Strategies, Diana and Deena are back to share more research-rich, equity-forward somatic strategies, in particular those of the breath and body, all in service of student well-becoming and academic thriving. From pendulation to contemplative pacing, sleep to vestibular bolstering, singing to body-based soothing interventions, participants will walk away with an expanded set of strategies to which to turn.

By the end of this session, participants will:

  1. Feel more fluent about health-promoting learning strategies, how to use them with students, and how to incorporate them into their own professional practices.
  2. Become familiar with the interplay of holistic interventions and academic success.
  3. Bolster their confidence to disrupt, unsilo, and integrate what's often been separated as academic/learning-skill based and what's considered the realm of health and wellness, in the hopes of further ripples of disruptive/integrative conversations and collective work.


Deena Kara Shaffer, PhD, MEd, BEd, (Hons)BA, OCT is the Coordinator of Student Transitions and Retention at Ryerson University, and the President of the Learning Specialists Association of Canada. Whether by immersion in nature, somatic programming, digital strategies, or arts-based provocations, Deena helps students learn how to learn, and to do so from an equity-guided, research-driven, health-promoting approach. Formerly a learning strategist with Ryerson’s Disability Services Office, and a skilled OCT teacher, Deena offers a holistic, empathic, and joy-based pedagogical stance. Deena is co-initiator of the Thriving in Action resilience intervention, and oversees the Portage paddling program and Mood Routes campus st/rolling initiative. Deena holds a doctorate in nature-based pedagogy and learning strategies, and is also a trained yoga teacher (200 hour), restorative yoga teacher (60 hour), mindfulness meditation teacher, published poet (The Grey Tote, Véhicule Press, 2013), and a writer, public speaker, and consultant on learning and well-being. To keep nourished and well, Deena gardens, cooks, and savours hikes with her husband and two daughters.


Dr. Diana Brecher is a clinical psychologist who has been working with Ryerson University’s Centre for Student Development and Counselling since 1991. She was the clinical director from 1994 - 2011. As adjunct faculty at OISE/UT in the Counselling Psychology Dept. (2000 - 2009) and in the Ryerson Psychology Department, (2010 - present) she has taught graduate-level courses in CBT, brief counselling therapy, theories and techniques of counselling, and clinical supervision.

In 2016, Diana’s long-standing interest and certification in Positive Psychology led to a five-year secondment to the  ThriveRU  program within Student Affairs. She is the co-creator of the Thriving in Action program.  Diana's long-term goal is to infuse Ryerson University’s programming, services and academic curriculum with principles of resilience and flourishing and to help facilitate a cultural change within the university.

Diana was interviewed fairly early on in her secondment on the  Psychology Podcast.


Paul Denny SQ

 Paul Denny


Practice Makes Perfect: Supporting Student-Generated MCQs with PeerWise

As more classes move online and students become accustomed to working remotely, it can be challenging for instructors to keep students engaged with course content. One approach which can work well is to have students create learning materials for their peers. There are learning benefits associated with students reflecting on, and explaining, their understanding of relevant concepts as they create resources. In addition, distributing the work required to generate resources enables the rapid creation of large repositories of content. PeerWise is a free, easy to use tool in which students create, share, answer and discuss practice questions that target the material they are learning. Participants will learn how to set up PeerWise for use in their courses, how to efficiently assess students' contributions and - if of interest - how to collect and analyse data for research purposes.


Paul Denny is an Associate Professor in Computer Science at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. His research interests include developing and evaluating tools for supporting collaborative learning, particularly involving student-generated resources, and exploring the ways that students engage with these environments. One of his projects, PeerWise, hosts more than five million practice questions, with associated solutions and explanations, created by students from 90 countries. He has fostered a community of educational researchers around this project, more than 150 of whom have published their work as a result. Dr Denny has been recognized for contributions to teaching both nationally and internationally, receiving New Zealand’s National Tertiary Teaching Excellence Award (2009), the Computing Research and Education Association of Australasia Award for Outstanding Contributions to Teaching (2010), and the QS Reimagine Education Overall Award (2018).


EdCog Faria Sana

Faria Sana


Taking the Big 3 into the Classroom

The scientific study of human learning and memory consists of thousands of experiments dedicated to identifying cognitive processes fundamental to learning. The big three to emerge from the lab are spaced learning, interleaved practice and retrieval practice. The bigger question is how do I go about implementing these methods into my teaching? In this workshop, we will we will explore activities and exercises for implementing these methods into your classroom. Please bring your syllabus along with a sample lesson (lecture) and assignment that you have used. We will also explore solutions for practical challenges to building durable learning.


Dr. Faria Sana received her PhD in Cognitive Psychology (McMaster University), and completed an Izaak Walton Killam Fellowship at University of Alberta. She is an Assistant Professor in Psychology at Athabasca University, and an Adjunct Professor in Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour at McMaster. Dr. Sana translates basic research in memory and attention into applied educational contexts to promote durable and efficient student learning. Such contexts include using educationally-relevant materials to enhance learning in classrooms, among students with lower cognitive aptitude, through multimedia instruction, via illustrative examples and through problem solving. Follow her on Twitter @ProfFariaSana