Driving Ontario’s growth in virtual learning

Thursday, April 22, 2021

University of Waterloo receives provincial funding to advance digital education

The University of Waterloo has been awarded almost $1.5 million from the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities (MCU) as part of their $50 million investment in virtual learning. Ontario’s Virtual Learning Strategy will expand the possibilities of traditional and life-long learning through the accelerated use of both online and hybrid learning.

As Ontario’s postsecondary education sector rapidly transitioned to remote delivery in 2020, the need for virtual learning supports to enable access to high-quality learning quickly became apparent. Recognizing online learning within the University’s 2020-2025 strategic plan, Waterloo had 52,600+ online course enrolments in 2019/20 and more than 500 online courses available in our regular course catalogue. With this funding, more can be done; not only for Waterloo students but for instructors and students across the province.

Universities are being called to improve society and drive prosperity in a responsible way by challenging traditional models of education. As we’ve seen from the past year, online and virtual learning are key components in the future of education. Waterloo is committed to transforming how we teach and learn, and to educating global citizens who are able to thrive in an age of rapid change.

Feridun Hamdullahpur, University of Waterloo President and Vice-Chancellor

These are the 19 programs funded that will be led by the University of Waterloo:





Mike Chee; Library

OER Librarian

1 year position in Library to support OER development, reuse, and remixing at UW


Mike Chee; Library
Amanda McKenzie; AI

Academic Integrity for Undergraduate STEM Students

Five undergraduate-focused academic integrity (AI) modules with a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) context.

Ottawa, McMaster, Queens, Guelph, Windsor, Toronto

Kim Cuddington, Brian Ingalls, SCI

Learner-centered quantitative education for biology graduate students

Create content for short- duration learning opportunities that provide quantitative training for graduate students and junior scientists

Edwards; Fisheries & Oceans Canada

Jason Grove; ENG

Carbon Trading Serious Game

Carbon trading role-playing sim

ENV, Games Institute, IDEAS Clinic
Delphi Group

Marios Ioannidis; Eric Croiset; John Zhang ENG

Gillian Dabrowski; Felicia Pantazi; CEL

Experiential Learning in Chemical Engineering Through Integration of 360 VR Tours,

Shared content for Chemical Engineering students that makes widely accessible the experience of a one-of-a-kind chemical processing plant of industrial relevance

Ryerson, Mohawk

Christine McWebb; ARTS

Modules in Advancing Intercultural Competence for Global Learners

Three discreet modules to advance intercultural competence in post-secondary global learners.

Waterloo (multiple departments), Renison, Calgary

Kate Mercer; Library
Carolyn MacGregor;

Christine Moresoli; Tom Coyle; ENG

Critical Information & Digital Literacy Skills for the Engineers

Content initially designed for engineering students, with a sizable portion of the content repurposable broadly for STEM fields including other professional degrees. The five modules are: 1. Information Overload; 2. Diversity of Information; 3. Misinformation and Information Evaluation; 4. Trust & Bias; 5. Information Use, Ethics, and Professionalism.

University of Toronto Faculty of Engineering; Library

Queen's University Library

Waterloo: Academic Integrity; CEL; Success Office

Tanya Missere-Mihas; Renison

Volunteer Management for the Not-for-Profit Sector

Volunteer management practices, standards, and strategies that are in demand within the not-for-profit sector

Lisaard and Innisfree Hospice; St. Joh Ambulance
Waterloo non-credit

Hannah Neufeld; FOH

Jane Chomyc; CEL

Indigenous Health and Social Justice: A Community-University Partnership for Reciprocal Learning

To create an accessible online graduate course on Indigenous Health and Social Justice


Leanne Racicot; SCI

Marie Lippens; CEL

Organic Chemistry Laboratory Simulations

Creation of simulated reality experiments complements an online or hybrid offering of introductory organic chemistry laboratory

Ottawa, Western

Chris Rennick, Sanjeev Bedi: ENG

Creation of Digital Twins for an Industrial Automation Simulation

Create what is called a “digital twin” of an industrial automation system, which is a high-fidelity simulation of a physical system in the digital world.


Jennifer Roberts-Smith

CYA.Live demonstration project

FurtherdevelopTRL8 integration of augmented reality (AR) and haptic interactivity for Cya.live, an existing, commercially-available digital platform, to support remote, synchronous, interactive, collaborative embodied learning

Rogers Communication

Elisabeth Van Stam; WCC

Fostering undergraduate communication skills in the sciences

Seven asynchronous open access workshops on science communication to facilitate communication instruction in existing post-secondary STEM courses


Monica Vesely, CTE

Gwen Penner; CEL

Reconceptualizing the Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW): A Peer-Based, Student-Centred Approach for Online Instructional Skills Development in Higher Education

Make the Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW) - an internationally recognized, peer-based, learner-centered teaching development program - readily available in the online mode Ontario-wide

McMaster, York, Mohawk

David Wang, ENG


Kritik will be used in courses across several universities. It is proposed to provide a systematic statistical analysis of the efficacy of this platform in order to validate the benefits of this AI-driven peer-assessment tool.

Ontario Tech, Seneca

David Wang; ENG


Design and development of a virtual experiential learning module that assesses student competence in programming in a simulated agile setting.


Kristin Wilson; Daniel Opperwall: Pia Zeni; CEL

Humanizing Virtual Learning in Higher Education

Development of a 4-module, open course for post-secondary educators on humanizing learning

Trent, Conestoga

Christine Zaza; Julia Burke; CEL

Mental Health Literacy Course

Revise Waterloo’s existing Mental Health Literacy university course and create one new college course

17 university and college collaborators + CICMH

Pia Zeni; Daniel Opperwall; Kristin Wilson; CEL

High-Quality Online Courses

Develop an open High-Quality Online Course suitable for online educators in both the college and university sector

Toronto, Queens, Conestoga

Through these awards, Waterloo can further share its extensive experience in online learning, explore new avenues for providing engaging learning opportunities and aid other institutions and community members. Come March 2022, 19 project proposals from 28 authors will be freely accessible through the University of Waterloo to any post-secondary institution in Ontario.

Waterloo has been a leader in online learning in Canada for many decades, providing high quality, engaging learning opportunities for our students.  Now, thanks to this funding, we’ll be able to further enhance learning experiences for our students and share the outcomes of these projects with the entire Ontario higher education community.

Aldo Caputo, Director, Centre for Extended Learning.

These projects are truly a great demonstration of collaboration, both across Waterloo faculties and Academic Support Units, and externally with more than 15 Ontario college and university partners. Waterloo will also be able to take advantage of the other funded projects t to enhance our existing Waterloo resources.

Ontario’s Virtual Learning Strategy will enable Waterloo, and other universities and colleges to offer improved online experiences and help prepare students for a complex and rapidly changing world.

You can find a full list of the funded projects on the eCampusOntario website.