Pedagogy First: A BCTLC Update

We recently had a virtual sit-down with Drs. Paula Hayden and Anne Sommerfeld, co-chairs of the British Columbia Teaching and Learning Council (BCTLC), to learn about changes to the BCTLC and how they can help educators across the province.

Post by the BCcampus editorial team

Dr. Paula Hayden, acting dean, Centre for Teaching and Learning at the College of New Caledonia, and Dr. Ann Sommerfeld, interim director for the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology at the University of Northern British Columbia, are the current co-chairs of the British Columbia Teaching and Learning Council (BCTLC). We caught up with the pair to discuss what’s happening with the BCTLC and what’s in store for the months and years to come in terms of teaching and learning in B.C. 

“All of our centres are still supporting faculty as we transition to a new normal,” said Paula. “There have been lots of questions, and we’re happy to continue to investigate and support instructors as they sort out what their classrooms will look like in the fall and the years to come. We’re looking at ways to enhance the student experience: considering what is possible in terms of technology or general pedagogical approaches and evaluating it against what is useful and most accommodating for students.”

“We have probably had more conversations about teaching in the past 15 months than the past 15 years,” said Anne. “We do not want to lose that community of practice, that sharing of knowledge. We want to keep the excitement and the innovation coming. Professional development and research in scholarly teaching will help us keep up with evidence-based practice. I don’t want to go back to ‘normal’; I want to stay forward.”

Pedagogy Before Technology

“We need to be mindful of the quality of experience we’re delivering,” said Paula. “It’s not just about flexibility: plugging in the new technology then flying out for a vacation while still tuning into your class. That may be very appealing that you can do that, but let’s make sure we’re never sacrificing quality and program goals for convenience. Convenience is great, and we can have both, but if you focus too much on convenience, you can lose sight of the essence of why you’re doing what you do.”

“Pedagogy comes before the technology,” shared Anne. “Most of us in the BCTLC are centers of teaching, learning, and then technology. That is intentional. We are promoting how to teach and how to use the technology to assist, not to be the driver of teaching practice.” 

Working with the British Columbia Council on Admissions and Transfer (BCCAT), the BCTLC shared some definitions about hybrid and flexible learning, and many of the new terms being used to describe current learning models. For example, online labs, face-to-face labs, and virtual labs are all available options in some of the health sciences and nursing programs. It’s likely that the value of these labs will change depending on the learning model used.  


“We’re looking forward to continuing our monthly chats about all things pedagogical and cool,” said Paula. “Our Friday cafes, the West Coast Teaching Excellence Award, plans for a spring event, and soon we’ll be looking for new executive members.”

“It’s been such a privilege to be part of the council, especially during these difficult times,” said Anne. “I think we have supported each other nicely through this, across the institutions and for our learners.”

West Coast Teaching Excellence Award

The BCTLC introduced an exceptional program to acknowledge teaching excellence throughout B.C. and Yukon. The West Coast Teaching Excellence Award is an annual opportunity to recognize up to five members of the post-secondary education community for outstanding work, primarily at the undergraduate level. To learn more about the award, including how to nominate someone, please visit the new website.

New Website for BCTLC

The new BCTLC website is now live, with a new look, new layout, and updates to improve access across all devices. The fully responsive site is a great resource to learn who is on the current BCTLC and to see what kind of events are taking place, minutes from previous meetings, and our constitution and history. The new site gave us an opportunity to share our land acknowledgement, with some suggested ideas for other institutions and individuals to use for their own acknowledgements. “The site is now available to members, and if they have ideas or a need, they can contact Anne or me directly,” said Paula. 

Truth and Reconciliation 

“We, at the BCTLC, represent the institutions across the province, and we stand as part of them and also as a separate entity,” said Paula. “We echo their sentiments in our practice, in our conversations, and in the work we do moving forward. Reconciliation is a journey, and everyone is in a different place on that journey. Our shared history is not a great story, but we will write the next chapter together. Hopefully, it will be something we can be proud of, and our children can be proud of, so that this moment in history will be different from the history we’re reflecting on today.”

“We have been humbled by this knowledge,” said Anne. “We cannot just rewrite history; we need to correct it.”

Notable Quote(s):

“I was recently at an academic integrity conference, and all the people were talking about what they had done and were doing — all things that we have done here at the BCTLC — but they actually put it to paper to document what worked and what did not, and that was an ‘aha’ moment for me. We need to catch up with some of that and celebrate our successes and our faculty successes, and as the BCTLC, we need to talk about this more.”

– Dr. Anne Sommerfeld, co-chair, British Columbia Teaching and Learning Council (BCTLC)

“The whole notion of actively reflecting on the past year to plan for the future — we don’t want to fall back into a mindless routine, even if it’s a good one. We need to be deliberately reflective so that we can plan based on what we’ve learned and what our goals are.”

– Dr. Paula Hayden, co-chair, British Columbia Teaching and Learning Council (BCTLC)

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The featured image for this post (viewable in the BCcampus News section at the bottom of our homepage) is by William Fortunato from Pexels