It has been a month since the KNAER team participated in the 2016 Ontario Education Research Symposium (OERS), and we continue to reflect on the conference, strengthen insights, and investigate new ideas stemming from the conference. The KNAER team was excited to attend and contribute to OERS. This dynamic conference, run by the Ontario Ministry of Education, brings together students, educators, educational leaders, researchers, and policy makers to foster connections, engage in and discuss connections between recent education research, practice, and policy. The theme of the conference this year was “Networking & Partnerships: The Core of Achieving Excellence in Education.” Symposium sessions focused on topics such as networks and partnerships, technology, integrating data for improvement, mathematics, educator stress, youth empowerment, and more. Keynote speakers included Dr. Chris Brown of the London Centre for Leadership in Learning, University College London; Dr. Santiago Rincon-Gallardo, from OISE; Michael Fullan Enterprises; Willa Black, Vice-President Corporate Affairs for Cisco Canada; George Couchie, creator and provider of Native Awareness Training Programs; Dr. Harry Stefanakis, a psychologist and trainer; and Dr. Chris Dede, the Timothy E. Wirth Professor in Learning Technologies at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.


We were humbled to hear Liz Sandals, the Minister of Education, thank OERS attendees and presenters for our contributions to Ontario’s education system. Key themes originating from presentations and discussions at OERS included the importance of trust, building meaningful connections within networks, leadership, empowerment, and well-being.

minister sandals

The KNAER team was very happy to connect with educators from across Ontario, from schools, school boards, university research teams, and the Ontario Ministry of Education. KNAER contributed to OERS through our booth, the vignette given by Dr. Carol Campbell, and the panel on research to practice networks on which Dr. Katina Pollock was a panelist.

Carol provided a vignette about Ontario’s Teacher Learning and Leadership Program (TLLP), a joint initiative of the Ontario Ministry of Education and Ontario Teachers' Federation to support experienced teachers to undertake self-directed advanced professional development; develop teachers’ leadership skills for sharing their professional learning and exemplary practices; and facilitate knowledge exchange for spread and sustainability of effective and innovative practices. To support educators’ knowledge mobilization, Carol discussed latest findings from her TLLP research (with Ann Lieberman and Anna Yashkina) indicating the importance of teachers reflecting on their own practice, collaborating in groups for collective professional learning, and extending their professional networks in person and online to lead, co-develop, communicate, and apply professional practices and resources to support improvements in teaching and learning.

Katina sat on a panel, entitled Research to Practice Networks. The panel consisted of individuals who are a part of different types of networks, including Dr. Maria Cantalini-Williams from Nipissing University, Dr. Amanda Cooper of Queens University and RIPPLE, Dr. Dragana Martinovic from the University of Windsor and the SURE network, and Michael Johnny of Research Impact at York University. The panel presentation included a lively discussion that made connections to Chris Brown’s keynote presentation earlier in the morning. Katina spoke about the complexity of a systems approach to networking and how the boundaries of these networks are less easy to define. She also acknowledged that while networks operate through informal relationships among people, they nevertheless need some formal structure in order to function well. A challenge Katina pointed to was how to keep the momentum going within the lifetime of a network. This led to a discussion about what strategies are needed to motivate individual stakeholders and organizations that are a part of a network.

panel 3

Visitors to the KNAER booth hailed from across Ontario, including Ottawa, Peel Region, Hunstville, Northern Ontario, the Greater Toronto Area, St Catharines, the Halton region, and London. Institutionally, we connected with researchers from Queens, the University of Ottawa, York, the Ontario Principals Council, Brock University, Wester University, and the University of Toronto. People were excited to learn about the numerous KNAER projects that were funded in the past and are looking forward to learning more about what KNAER has in store for the future.

We are also excited to announce that we will have three blog posts written by OERS attendees in the coming months. We invite people who are new to our website to consider writing a blog post for KNAER and joining our ever growing list of intermediaries.

You can learn more about what people were discussing at OERS by searching for the symposium hashtag #OERS16, on twitter. There was a lot of good discussion and sharing of resources over social media. Participants also created engaging visuals of the events and conversations.

Candace Rempel, an educational researcher from the Halton Catholic District School Board created a great sketch of Chris Brown’s keynote speech.

Sketchnotes by Candace Rempel of keynote by Chris BrownGreg Roussell, a system research leader from the Grand Erie District School board, created the visual (on the right) of the most active twitter users tweeting about #OERS16.

Most active twitter users

Click here for more information about OERS, including summaries of workshops and descriptions of presenters.

And, stay tuned, as more information about KNAER’s next steps will be announced on our website!