Report on the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) Conference March 2016

Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario Conference image

Theme: Transitions: learning across borders, sectors and silos

The HEQCO conference explored the education continuum from kindergarten through higher ed and beyond with new insights on teaching and learning, skills for life, and student success. The conference ran for two days in Toronto, and we attended sessions relevant to post-secondary.

The Ins and Outs of Assessment and Thinking Critically about Critical Thinking both addressed the importance of student involvement and understanding of their progress and gaps in learning. Knowledge transfer is something we do with our students, not to them. We need to have collective conversations with students and faculty about learning outcomes and assessment to make them meaningful and relevant to future goals.
One of the keynote speakers, author Jane McGonigal, presented on the relationship between gaming and learning. Although we have mixed feelings about the amount of time people spend playing games (3 billion hours per week globally!), she noted from brain studies that gaming increases motivation and learning. She stated the opposite of play is not work, but depression.

Although gamers fail 80% of the time, they keep returning to try again. All of this is important to post-secondary learning, and we need to create a safe space for students to take risks in their journey towards the win.

It was a well-attended and informative conference, and we both came away with new ideas to share at the program review table!

— Janet Douglas and June Parnell

If you would like to learn more about HEQCO, please visit their site:

Interested in Jane McGonigal’s research? She has a number of TED talks including this one:

If you are interested in further information about gaming in education, Educause’s 7 things you should know about gamification is a good starting point, ELI7_7_ things_Gamification pdf

. . . and here is a fairly lengthy recent article