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Selected projects

The following six projects have been selected to receive funding through the IIF in the fund’s pilot year (2016-2017):

  • ACE Centre for Firefighting - $109,051

    • This project will focus on building a world-leading centre for firefighter training and research.  A cross-disciplinary team of faculty and students from UOIT, DC and UOIT’s Automotive Centre for Excellence ( ACE), will work together to develop a facility that supports interdisciplinary research and provides experiential learning for both students and external agencies.

      Project participants:
      • Don Toporowski, general manager, ACE, UOIT
      • John Komar, director, Engineering and  Operations, ACE, UOIT
      • Dr. Michael Williams-Bell, professor, School of Health & Community Services, DC
      • Dr. Bernadette Murphy, professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, UOIT
      • Dr. Michael Holmes, assistant professor, Brock University
      • Dr. Stephen Cheung, professor, Brock University
      • Justin Gammage, industry liaison, UOIT
      • Colin Howard, marketing specialist and account manager, ACE, UOIT
      • Rick Bowler, professor, School of Justice & Emergency Services, DC
      • Don Fishley, professor and program co-ordinator, School of Skilled Trades, Apprenticeship &Renewable Technology, DC
      • Derrick Clark, deputy fire chief, City of Oshawa
      • Gord Weir, fire chief, Municipality of Clarington
      • Scott Siersma, deputy fire chief, Town of Whitby
      • Dave Lang, fire chief, Town of Ajax
      • Jim Sales, fire chief, City of Toronto
      • Jean-Francois Roy, chief technology officer, Hexoskin Wearable Body Metrics
      • Peter King, director, Public Safety Solutions, Aeryon Labs Inc.
      • Anand Vasudev, vice-president, Strategy and Operations, The Americas, Equivital
  • Canada-Ireland Centre for Higher Education - $79,919

    DC, UOIT and Irish institutions collaborating for higher education

    HEIT flag

    With financial support from the Innovative Initiatives Fund (IIF), Durham College (DC) and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) now have the means to continue working with each other and key international partners toward improving higher education in Canada and all over the world. 

    In recent years, both UOIT and DC have been involved in a variety of collaborations with the Dublin Institute of Technology, the Institute of Technology Blanchardstown (ITB), and the Institute of Technology Tallaght. Exciting initiatives have included: the Higher Education in Transformation (HEIT) Symposium hosted by DC and UOIT in November 2016 with over 120 participants from Canada, Ireland and many other countries; the exploration of international student exchange programs; joint UOIT-ITB faculty projects; and DC-ITB Global Class virtual learning sessions which were broadcast live and joined students and instructors from classrooms an ocean apart through video conferencing.

    One of the goals of the IIF project is to maintain this momentum and deliver on intentions articulated in a Memorandum of Understanding signed by DC, UOIT and the three Irish institutional partners in November 2016 at the HEIT Symposium to establish an international Centre for Higher Research, Policy and Practice (the Centre) devoted to:

    • Conferences, most notably the HEIT Symposium.
    • Inter-institutional research collaborations.
    • International exchange opportunities for faculty, staff and students.
    • Joint publications.

    A first step in institutionalizing these relationships has been establishing the Centre for Higher Education Research, Policy and Practice (CHERPP)— distinct from but integral to the genesis of the Centre—within the Faculty of Education at UOIT. Faculty and staff associated with these collaborations at the partner institutions will be able to be formally associated with this centre.

    “We are delighted to take these important first steps toward institutionalizing this meeting of the minds with help from IIF and to move forward with this exciting partnership between our schools,” said Dr. Brian Campbell, the director of CHERPP and one of the UOIT project leads. “Working together, I am confident that we can play an active leadership role in the development and enhancement of higher education in the 21st century.”

    In addition to working toward institutionalizing the current relationship, the project also has a significant research component using student assistants on governance structures and models used by other international institutes to aid in the process. Another key aspect of this collaboration is establishing networks of practitioners and researchers with shared interests in higher education topic areas or domains that will be associated with the developing Centre and will help to drive future collaborations and conferences. The domain areas of interest so far have arisen from our previous collaborations, and include: system and institutional design and transformation; pathways, transfer credits and recognition; teaching and learning in a digital context; learning outcomes and skills; supporting student success; internationalization, globalization and exchange; social identity and culture; and partnerships and community engagement.

    “We look forward to building on the existing synergies between DC, UOIT and our Irish partners to focus on exploring and collaborating on new initiatives in higher education policy and practice in both countries,” said Kevin Dougherty, associate dean, School of Interdisciplinary Studies and one of the DC project leads. “There is so much we can learn from each other.”

    About the Innovative Initiatives Fund

    The IIF was created as a pilot project to support collaborative initiatives proposed by staff and faculty at DC and UOIT from 2016 to 2017. The fund’s budget is $300,000 ($150,000 from each institution) with continued funding for 2017-2018. This project is one of six approved IIF projects.

  • Community Gaming - $20,000

    • This project will support local non-profit organizations and provide a learning opportunity for students. A cross-disciplinary team of faculty and students from DC and UOIT will collaborate to develop games and apps that support local non-profit organizations and/or educate the public about important social issues.

      Project participants:
      • Tyler Frederick, assistant professor, Criminology, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities (FSSH), UOIT
      • Pejman Mirza-Babaei, assistant professor, Game Development, Faculty of Business and Information Technology, UOIT
      • Scott Aquanno, professor, Political Science, FSSH, UOIT
      • Greg Murphy, dean, School of Media, Art & Design, DC
      • Clarence Keesman, executive director, The Refuge
      • Phyllis Novack, executive director, SKETCH
  • Education: Poverty, Access Resistance and Resilience in Latin America - $44,912

    University and college students learn how poverty affects education access

    Hands-on learning gained through field course in Brazil

    Group shot of students who took the 2017 field course in Brazil

    Numerous international studies show a direct correlation between poverty and access to education.

    One of the most well-known scholars in this research area, Brazilian educational philosopher Paulo Freire, grew up in a family of low socio-economic status and experienced hunger as a child during the Great Depression.. In his many texts, Freire reflects on how poverty seriously impacted his ability to learn in school. His experience helped him formulate a philosophy of education called ‘critical pedagogy’, which exposes the weaknesses of an educational system that, by design, is unable to meet the needs of students outside of the middle class. His book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, is considered one of the most important texts on this topic.

    It’s one thing for post-secondary students to learn about Freire’s theories through lectures or textbooks. But what if they could see his theories play out in real life—in his country of origin? A group of University of Ontario Institute of Technology and Durham College (DC) students recently did that during a recent 10-day field course in São Paolo, Brazil.

    The course, entitled Poverty, Access Resistance and Resilience in Latin America, was made available this past spring to the university’s Bachelor of Education students as well as students in the college’s School of Interdisciplinary Studies. The course was backed by the Innovative Initiatives Fund (IIF), a program that supports collaborative initiatives proposed by faculty and staff at the university and college. The university’s International office and English Language Centre, as well as the college’s International office, were also collaborators.

    Allyson Eamer, PhD, of the university’s Faculty of Education, and Anna Augusto Rodrigues, a faculty member in DC’s School of Media, Art and Design, came up with the idea for the field course. With the support of both the university’s and college’s International offices, Dr. Eamer and Rodrigues applied to the IIF with their idea—and were successful in seeing their project funded.

    Brazil as the perfect location

    “While we initially looked broadly at Latin America as a site for the field course, we settled on Brazil because of its significance to critical pedagogy, as Freire’s homeland,” Dr. Eamer explains. “Critical pedagogy is highly relevant for our teacher candidates, who need to be able to question the assumptions and biases they might inadvertently bring into the classroom with respect to socio-economic disparities and racial and cultural differences. They also need to know how to teach their students to do the same.”

    To make the course better fit with IIF’s mandate of joint university-college projects, Dr. Eamer and Rodrigues decided to broaden its focus to appeal to students in a variety of programs.

    “Brazil has a long and important history of street art, and Paulo Freire’s theories have been used in art and media research, so this course seemed like a natural fit for my students,” explains Rodrigues, who is currently completing her PhD research on street art as an educational tool.

    Learning in the field

    Course participants found themselves immersed in an environment where they engaged with social justice issues in diverse communities, and collaborated with learners from different backgrounds in a rich global learning initiative.

    The course included visits to:

    “One of the highlights for all of us was the time we spent at the Freire Institute,” says Dr. Eamer. “We met with Freire’s son Lutgardes, who shared many stories of his childhood, and allowed us to peruse his father’s notebooks and texts. Students left there inspired and energized to incorporate these values into their future professions as teachers, journalists and broadcasters.”

    “The ‘Curriculum in the City’ was a unique aspect of this field course,” adds Rodrigues. “It provided an opportunity for students to learn outside of a traditional classroom by bringing to life lessons on, for example, gender equality and decolonization as we walked around São Paulo.”

    Select student testimonials:

    “The opportunity to travel to Brazil to study the educational philosophy of Paulo Freire and its application to the 21st-century Ontario classroom will forever set the University of Ontario Institute of Technology’s innovative and progressive Bachelor of Education program apart from the others. The most enriching part of this experience was the discussion, collaboration and partnership fostered with the University of São Paulo’s Masters of Education students. The whole experience has informed my professional understanding and commitment to anti-oppression, inclusion, equity and diversity in the classroom, as well as cemented my core-beliefs in sound pedagogy.”
    - Luxshan Ambigaibagan, Primary/Junior teacher candidate, Faculty of Education, University of Ontario Institute of Technology

    "Going on the Brazil field course had to be one of the best decisions I've ever made. Every aspect was phenomenal and really opened my eyes—from learning about Paulo Freire and his life's work, to learning basic Portuguese, exploring São Paulo and learning about Brazilian history. I would love to do it all over again and I encourage anyone in broadcasting or any program to take this course. This opportunity could be life-changing—trust me, you wouldn't want to miss out."
    - Breanna Harley, second-year Broadcasting—Radio and Contemporary Media Program student

    Helpful links:

  • Research capacity - $34,000

    DC and UOIT work together to ignite research

    Durham College (DC) and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) already partner in many innovative ways, from sharing services to offering pathways education programs. Currently, DC and UOIT are working together with help from the Innovative Initiatives Fund (IIF) to enhance their research capacity and generate more buzz about the value of conducting collaborative research with industry and community organizations.

    “Building research capacity is a fundamental role of ORSIE and collaboration is a key consideration for researchers who are building their track records,” said Debbie McKee Demczyk, dean, Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ORSIE), DC. “This collaborative relationship is an excellent opportunity to foster partnerships between researchers in our two institutions.”

    The Research Capacity project is a two-fold initiative featuring a video research mentorship library and a joint research forum.

    Video research mentorship library

    A Collaborative Research Committee made up of DC and UOIT faculty is responsible for the planning and implementation of a video research mentorship library for budding researchers consisting of several short videos on topics such as:

    • Research resources at DC and UOIT.
    • Research collaborations:
      • Between academics.
      • With industry and community organizations.
      • Involving a multidisciplinary approach.
      • Strategic research communications and branding.

    This innovative idea of “mentors at your fingertips” grew from the challenge that one-on-one personal mentoring is not always possible but is highly valued. The video research mentorship library will provide information to researchers and students who are introduced, at their convenience, to mentors who will share their invaluable knowledge through these two- to three-minute videos.

    Joint research forum

    When colleges and universities collaborate effectively with community agencies on research projects, it has economic, social and environmental benefits for our community. The joint DC/UOIT committee will organize a forum in winter 2018 with the goal of bringing the health and information and communications technology (ICT) sectors together to learn about their challenges and find ways to ignite future research collaborations.

    “This initiative is a strong catalyst, further igniting the strong collaborative research efforts between the two institutions and the local community.” said Jennifer Freeman, director, Office of Research Services, UOIT. “The Innovative Initiatives Fund demonstrates the commitment of UOIT and DC to collaborative efforts in research that will benefit the community.”

    About the Innovative Initiatives Fund

    The IIF was created as a pilot project to support collaborative initiatives proposed by staff and faculty at DC and UOIT from 2016 to 2017. The fund’s budget is $300,000 ($150,000 from each institution) with continued funding for 2017-2018. The Research Capacity project is one of six currently approved IIF projects that are underway.

  • Simulated Experiential Learning Health Care - $10,932

    Health care students to benefit from innovative simulated learning project

    Health students with computer and mannequin

    Increasingly complex patient issues in today’s health care settings are demanding that our health care system is highly efficient. Students at Durham College (DC) and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) are making that happen through an inter-professional simulation model in the Simulated Experiential Learning Health Care project made possible by the Innovative Initiatives Fund (IIF).

    The Simulated Experiential Learning Health Care project, developed by a team of faculty from DC’s School of Health & Community Services and UOIT’s Faculty of Health Sciences, is one of six approved IIF initiatives. Partners from Nipissing University and George Brown College are also involved.

    Health students teaching their fellow students

    Patient simulation labs include patient mannequins, monitoring instruments, delivery systems for medication, and computers and other electronic equipment. For the purposes of this project, patient simulations, face-to-face interactions demonstrated by students and professors, and virtual simulation scenarios with actors, will intersect to help students learn how to work well in an inter-professional environment.

    “We were so pleased to learn that we were selected as one of the teams to receive funding for our project,” said Dr. Hilde Zitzelsberger, professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, UOIT and project lead for the DC-UOIT team. “These real-world simulations will provide those experiences to students so they are prepared to work as a team in providing a high level of quality care to patients.”

    Teacher and mannequin

    The aim of the project, which will be underway in fall 2017, is to break down current learning silos to ensure that students in programs such as Personal Support Worker, Nursing and Paramedic, can adapt while working in environments that require a high degree of collaboration. The simulations will help to connect approximately 20 to 30 students from a range of health-related programs at DC and UOIT who will develop essential skills related to communication, collaboration, conflict management, problem-solving, and prioritization. The students will complete a questionnaire prior to and following the simulations which will inform the post-scenario assessments.

    This project is an example of how both UOIT and DC value experiential learning, institutional collaboration and putting the student experience first.

    About the Innovative Initiatives Fund

    The IIF was created as a pilot project to support collaborative initiatives proposed by staff and faculty at DC and UOIT from 2016 to 2017. The fund’s budget is $300,000 ($150,000 from each institution) with continued funding for 2017-18. The Simulated Experiential Learning Health Care project is one of six currently approved IIF projects that are underway.