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[Member Profile] Meet Youdan Zhang from BCIT

Contributed by Bonnie Johnston, BCIT

I am an Instructional Development Consultant in BCIT’s Learning and Teaching Centre. I work directly with the faculty and staff in BCIT’s six schools to create new programs, develop courses and review curriculum and existing programs.

I have been involved with teaching and learning since 1991 and I got intensely involved with educational technology when I started my PhD program in educational technology at Concordia University in 2001. I have been working in various learning and teaching centres: I was a Learning Specialist in Montreal, supporting faculty with educational technology and curriculum development; I was  an Instructional Designer at SAIT and now I am an IDC at BCIT where I have been since 2010.

My big interest is in how educational technology can transform learning. For example, I worked on a nursing clinical course where they wanted to move the theory part online. Before the project, they used a dialysis machine in the classroom. In moving the course online, we created digital simulations with real life cases to help students learn how to set up the machines and prepare them for clinical practice. Part of what I love to do in my practice is designing engaging activities by twisting existing technologies for learning purposes. An example is re-purposing the use of the scheduling tool, Doodle, into a way of using it for group learning. I look at technology from a learning perspective and ask how it can support learning.

I have been a member of ETUG since 2010 when I moved to BC, but I knew about it before when I was at SAIT and was eager to participate because ETUG has many good events. I get a feeling of close community with ETUG. I feel like I know a lot of people that I met at conferences and workshops and feel close to them even though I haven’t met many people in person.

I really like the online events that ETUG has put on and the Festival of Learning. Another related activity I really enjoyed is Liberating Structures and Social Learning. Bringing in world-renowned experts to BC keeps us connected with the leading edge of educational technology. My favorite ETUG memory is at the 2017 Festival of Learning where there were post-it-notes on the wall for everyone to add their feedback. It grew over the days as people added more. That takes courage to put up something like that and you never see that at other conferences

In the future it would be great if ETUG could bring in more world class experts to BC. Some hot topics on my mind at the moment are Learning Analytics and MOOCs. For Learning Analytics, I’m especially interested in the pedagogical side and using LA to improve learning at the course level and program level. I also still believe in MOOCs even thought people say their dying. What I am interested in is how we can leverage the benefit of MOOC development to improve the learning opportunities in BC. MOOC components have so much potential where we can incorporate MOOC elements into curriculum development for existing credential formats. This would have great potential for injecting interdisciplinary and multiple perspectives into an existing program, for example. I’m thinking about how we can twist the MOOC idea to benefit our existing programs in a way that is beneficial, innovative, and benefits students.