Virtual Education: Lessons Learned in 2020

Virtual Education: Lessons Learned in 2020

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Date: Thursday, February 11 2021

Time:  1-2pm EST

In 2020, millions of learners were displaced from the classroom on short notice and with little preparation.  Education was forced to change dramatically, with an unprecedented shift to online and remote learning.  How has the shift impacted parents, students, teachers and education more broadly?  Join us for a riveting panel discussion on the lessons learned from the 2020 virtual experience, with opening remarks from Ontario's Minister of Colleges and Universities, The Honourable Ross Romano.


Sarah Watts-Rynard | Chief Executive Officer | Polytechnics Canada

Sarah Watts-Rynard assumed the role of Chief Executive Officer at Polytechnics Canada in July 2018.  Prior to this role, she served as Executive Director of the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum, supporting Canada’s apprenticeship community with research, promotion and by connecting stakeholders across trades, across sectors and across Canada.

Sarah has a degree in Journalism and English from Carleton University.  Since graduating, she has built a career that includes time in government, the private sector and at skills-focused non-profit organizations.  She has experience related to non-profit governance, fundraising, advocacy and marketing.  She leads a team of passionate and dedicated employees committed to high-quality skills and innovation policy, reflecting the strengths of polytechnic education in Canada.  In 2018, Sarah was awarded an honorary diploma in the Skilled Trades by Niagara College.

Sarah is Vice-Chair of the Canadian Centre for Women in Science, Engineering, Trades and Technology (WinSETT Centre) and serves as a Director on the Boards of the Canadian Club of Ottawa and the CWB Welding Foundation.

Opening Remarks:

The Honourable Ross Romano | Minister of Colleges and Universities | Member of Provincial Parliament for Sault Ste. Marie 

Minister Ross Romano was first elected to be the Member of Provincial Parliament for Sault Ste. Marie on June 1, 2017 in a provincial by-election. After spending a year as a member of the Official Opposition serving as the Critic for Northern Ontario Jobs and the Ring of Fire, Minister Romano was re-elected as a member of the Ontario government and became the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, as well as the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Indigenous Affairs. On June 20, 2019, Minister Romano was sworn into Ontario’s cabinet as the Minister of Colleges and Universities.

Minister Romano is a fierce advocate for the postsecondary sector. He believes that any investment in Ontario’s postsecondary sector is an investment in job creation and economic growth. Ontario’s postsecondary institutions are ready partners who have a long history of building programs that reflect the social and economic needs of both learners and industry. Minister Romano is committed to ensuring that Ontario’s students have access to high calibre education and remain competitive in the global workforce.


Benoit-Antoine Bacon | President and Vice-Chancellor | Carleton University

Dr. Benoit-Antoine Bacon started his five-year mandate as President of Carleton University on July 1, 2018. He joined Carleton from Queen’s University where he served as Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic).

He previously served as Provost and Vice-President (Academic Affairs) at Concordia University in his hometown of Montreal where he was recognized with an award as Concordia University’s Sustainability Champion.

His first academic appointment was at Bishop’s University, where he served in a number of leadership roles including Dean of Arts and Science, Associate Vice-Principal for Research, chair of the psychology department and chief negotiator for the association of professors of Bishop’s University. 

Dr. Bacon holds a PhD in neuropsychology from the University of Montreal. His research in the field of cognitive neuroscience focuses on the links between brain activity and perception in the visual and auditory systems, as well as on multisensory integration.

As someone with lived experience of childhood trauma, mental health struggles, and substance use, he speaks publicly on these issues to break


Camille Williams-Taylor | Director of Education | Ottawa-Carleton District School Board

Over a thirty-year career, Camille Williams-Taylor has worked in education settings from Winnipeg to Montreal, with the better part of her career spent in schools and education systems in Ontario. A graduate of the University of Manitoba and McGill University, Camille is currently serving as the Director of Education for the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board which is a district of 147 schools and over 75,000 students. 

Her previous experiences in education include roles at the Ministry of Education, York University's Faculty of Education and at a number of school districts including Durham, Toronto and Peel.  While her experiences are varied, Camille's commitment to student achievement through teaching excellence and equitable opportunities has been and continues to be the common thread. She believes that educators must ensure that each and every student has the tools to unleash their potential and author their own story. 

Camille is a wife, and a mother to three daughters.


Claude Brulé | President and Chief Executive Officer | Algonquin College 

Claude Brulé was appointed as Algonquin College’s ninth President and Chief Executive Officer in August 2019. Prior to taking on this leadership role, Claude served the College at every level of its leadership team from Department Chair, to Faculty Dean, to Senior Vice President Academic where, for the past twenty years, he has been a champion for student success and an innovator in the higher education sector, providing leadership to the advancement of digital learning.

Prior to joining the College, Claude served 22 years in the Canadian Armed Forces, in the Air Force occupational branch of Communication and Electronics Engineering, retiring at the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. Among his many tours of duty, he was an instructor at the Canadian Forces School of Communications and Electronics (CFSCE), and subsequently, its Senior Staff Officer for Strategic Planning and Chief of Staff. Between tours at CFSCE, he lectured in the Mathematics and Computer Science department as an assistant professor at the Royal Military College.

He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering Physics and a Master’s of Science degree in Mathematics from the Royal Military College in Kingston. He is also a graduate of the Command and Staff College, and holds a certificate in Management and Leadership in Education from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. 

Claude is an active member of the community and serves on several boards, including Invest Ottawa, the Ottawa Network for Education (ONFE) and the Ottawa Community Loan Fund (OCLF). He is also a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and was promoted to Senior Member in 2018 for his significant contributions to the profession.