D2L: Innovation Meets the Art of Teaching

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John Baker, President and CEO, D2LJohn Baker, President and CEO
Within the first few weeks, the new assistant professor of an Australian middle years college started to notice the adversity posed by the diverse demographics of students from a vast spectrum of socio-economic backgrounds. The primary challenge for educators was to deliver quality education and equal academic opportunities across the diverse student base. This challenge of imparting quality education across different demographics intrigued John Baker, president and CEO of D2L, during his college years. The question that encouraged Baker to establish D2L was—how can one use technology to transform learning dramatically and create equal academic opportunities?

Soon after its inception in 1999, D2L launched its flagship LMS platform Brightspace LMS, used by schools, higher education, and businesses for online and blended classroom learning. As the president and CEO of D2L, Baker believes, one of the most important things one can do to help each other is ensuring that everyone has access to the best possible learning opportunities. “We’re solving teachers’ biggest challenges by offering all the core functionality they require within one platform: the most engaging learning activities, easy assessment tools, a parent engagement solution, and more,” says Baker. Currently, D2L is working with educators around the globe to help learners at a scale which was hard to imagine in 1999.

Brightspace LMS platform offers personalized learning environments to students. The new type of learning environment encourages continuous engagement through interactive tools, active links, Microsoft Outlook, Dropbox, and YouTube. As a result, students can develop their skills and knowledge to better prepare for life after school. The LMS also gives the academic institutions instructional consistency across campuses, ensuring that the best practices are upheld in every class while retaining the art of teaching.

We’re solving teachers’ biggest challenges by offering all the core functionality they require within one platform: the most engaging learning activities, easy assessment tools, a parent engagement solution, and more

The LMS platform consists of three major components. The first component is Brightspace Core, aimed at K12 education. Brightspace Core combines a learning environment, e-portfolio, learning repository, video recorder, virtual classroom, e-textbook platform called Binder, and mobile apps, all in one cloud-based platform. The second component is Engagement Plus, aimed at the higher education sector, which includes a cloud-based lecture capture system, interactive elements for engaging course design, and a course catalog/registration system. Lastly, the third component is Performance Plus, a personalized and adaptive learning path; it is a bundle of learning analytics to help automate tasks and identify risks, and the adaptive learning engine personalizes the content for each learner. Recently, D2L has launched two new versions to meet the current needs of the education sector. The Emerald Release provides an intuitive social and mobile-friendly teaching and learning experience for users around the world, while the Magenta Release gives students structured and meaningful feedback using an easy-to-understand rubric process—an option to be even more objective with anonymous grading.

D2L’s technology is currently being used by more than 1,100 clients and 15 million learners in higher education, schools, healthcare, government, and the enterprise sector. In 16 years, the D2L team has grown to include over 800 employees around the world and set up offices in Canada, the U.S., Europe, Australia, Brazil, and Singapore. Baker wants to credit his team for the enormous success of D2L. “When you see all the stories of how we can impact when we work together, you can understand why this is a mission for us—a way for us to contribute to progress and build a brighter future,” says Baker. In a time when LMS is essential for the evolution of education, Brightspace’s every iteration makes it more ‘human’ while providing resources required in modern education.

D2L News

D2L’S Chief Strategy Officer Appointed to Canadian Federal Government’s Future Skills Council

Kitchener, Waterloo-D2L, the global learning technology leader, today announced that its Chief Strategy Officer, Jeremy Auger, has been appointed to the Canadian federal government’s Future Skills Council by Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, the Honourable Patricia A. Hajdu.

The Council will provide advice on skills development and training priorities for the future of work and areas for policy and program innovation. It will examine such issues as emerging and persistent skills gaps, identification of transferable skills and competencies sought across multiple sectors, new skills development approaches and technologies, and innovative measurement approaches, in order to offer timely and reliable evidence on in-demand skills and effective training models.

“It’s a real honour to serve on the Council on behalf of the team here at D2L, who are deeply engaged in strategizing and planning around the future of work and learning — not just in Canada, but around the world,” said Auger. “The globally disruptive, technology-driven changes that are upon us will have a tremendous impact on the way we — and our children — learn and work, and I’m pleased to do my part to guide the discussion around that future.”

In a world where disruptive technologies such as AI, machine learning, the internet of things, 3D printing, quantum computing and nanotechnology are changing the way we live, work and learn, it is a challenge for Canadian workers and employers to keep pace with this momentous change. The new Council will help the federal government better understand economic drivers now and into the future — and will help shape the labour force response to support inclusive growth to the benefit of all Canadians.

“As technology, automation and demographic shifts continue to change the nature of work and the skills required of the workforce, our systems of education and training need to adapt, which is why we strongly support this kind of action and focus by the federal government,” said Auger. “Together, we can innovate to address education and reskilling needs for the future of our country.”

Auger drives company-level strategy within D2L and provides executive leadership of government relations and public affairs, mergers and acquisitions, corporate communications, labs, IP strategy, and philanthropy. He participates on several boards, including as Chair of the Economic Development Advisory Board for the City of Kitchener (Canada), a board member for the IMS Global Learning Consortium, a national board member for the IT Association of Canada (ITAC), and member of several other for-profit and nonprofit boards.

Jeremy has an Honours BMath in Computer Science from the University of Waterloo, and a Master of Science in Management from Wilfrid Laurier University.