Annual Review 2023-24

A collage of nine photographs of CPL colleagues in Norway, UAE, Sharjah, and Riyadh
Top Row: CPL Team with USN colleagues in Norway, Middle/Bottom: CPL Team Members in the Middle East

Empowering Education Through Global Connectivity

Over the past fiscal year, CPL has been dedicated to fostering meaningful connections with learners, colleagues, and clients worldwide.

Welcome to the 2023-2024 Annual Review of OISE Continuing & Professional Learning (CPL), where the theme of “Connections” permeates our reflections, achievements, and aspirations.

As we navigate a landscape of global education, our commitment to connectivity has been instrumental in shaping our initiatives and guiding our progress. Through collaborative endeavours and innovative programs, CPL has not only addressed challenges but has also seized opportunities to enrich educational experiences and build capacity within diverse communities. In this review, we invite you to explore the significant events, developments, and achievements that have marked our journey, reflecting on the strides we’ve made and the connections we’ve forged.

From innovative programs like Education Leaders and Professional Learning Fellowships to international collaborations and strategic partnerships, CPL continues to exemplify its dedication to empowering education professionals from all sectors and backgrounds. Join us as we delve into the highlights of the past year, celebrating our collective efforts in advancing education and fostering connections that transcend boundaries.


Work-Integrated Learning for Leaders

Confident smiling school leader with students in background

Reimagining Principal Qualifications: A New, Inclusive Approach for Aspiring K-12 Education Leaders

Effective educational leaders are necessary for building resourceful and instructive school systems. The Education Leaders Program (ELP) was designed to cater to the dynamic needs of aspiring school leaders from around the globe, and offers a fresh, online approach to leadership training, crafted to fulfill both local and international requirements. The program is rooted in OISE’s evidence-based Ontario Leadership Framework (first introduced by OISE Prof. Kenneth Leithwood, 2006), and focuses on enhancing and supporting essential practices of successful education leaders. We were pleased to pilot and launch this exiting new program over the past year.

The ELP’s curriculum is divided into two distinct phases. The first, Building the Foundations of Leadership, offers three comprehensive courses ocreating a personal leadership philosophy, mastering community engagement, and acquiring practical management tools. Upon successful completion of these three foundational courses, learners earn an OISE Certificate, while Ontario Certified Teachers also earn their PQP1 qualification from the Ontario College of Teachers.

Phase two, Nurturing Sustainable Leadership, introduces the Professional Learning Fellowship (PLF) model. This advanced segment allows learners to

engage in self-guided study, supported by expert facilitators. They refine their professional inquiries, facilitate seminars, and build comprehensive leadership toolboxes, essential for their future leadership roles. Successful completion of this phase awards a Master Certificate and, for Ontario teachers, their PQP2 qualification.

The pilot run (August 2023-June 2024) included ten diverse participants from various educational sectors and geographical regions. Feedback from the pilot run has been instrumental in refining the program’s approach, with real-time adjustments made to administrative processes and content.

In February, our first full cohort launched with 21 educators from different parts of Canada and around the world. As the program moves forward, we will continue to expand our domestic and international reach to include organizations who will benefit from a team approach to leadership learning.

The feedback loop from current and past participants will continue to shape the ELP, ensuring it remains at the cutting edge of educational leadership learning.

With its innovative design and adaptive approach, the Education Leaders Program is not just training school leaders; it’s shaping the future of education itself.

“The program’s orientation to solving a ‘problem of practice’ within one’s own professional context presented great opportunities for professional growth as well as to apply course content within one’s own professional context.”

Education Leaders Pilot Participant

The final Zoom session of our 2023 Professional Learning Fellowship Pilot showing CPL team members and learners
The final Zoom session of our 2023 Professional Learning Fellowship Pilot

Professional Learning Fellowships: Piloting a Professional Community of Practice for Solving Workplace Challenges

Last year, OISE CPL piloted the Professional Learning Fellowship program as an innovative approach to professional development

Distinct from traditional professional learning approaches, OISE CPL’s Professional Learning Fellowship program emphasizes a self-guided learning experience where participants, supported by process facilitators and experts-in-residence, take centre stage in their own development.

The program uniquely combines personal leadership growth with practical project execution, pushing learners “from idea to action” in a 14-week intensive format. Key components of the fellowship include one-on-one coaching, community collaboration, and reflective practice. These elements foster self-awareness, confidence, and the skills necessary to navigate and lead complex workplace challenges.

In early 2024 we invited a cohort of twelve professionals from diverse sectors to take part in a
pilot run of the fellowship, who were each committed to implementing a specific change in their workplace. Throughout the 14-weeks, regular feedback was gathered from the cohort, enabling us to make real-time adjustments to the delivery model while planning for the next run.

Highlights from participating fellows included the opportunity to work with experts while collaborating with peers from different sectors, despite working on very different work-based projects. By the end of the program, a number of fellows had succeeded in having their innovative solutions approved by their organizations, demonstrating the tangible impact of the fellowship in real-world professional settings.

Insights from the pilot cohort have also informed future program enhancements including plans to standardize the coaching model and strengthen the ongoing community network among fellowship participants.

Thanks to the collaboration with these participants, our facilitators, experts-in-residence, and program design and administration teams, it is clear this unique approach not only builds community and enhances leadership skills but also empowers professionals to effectively drive change within their organizations, making it an ideal model for transformative professional development.

A post-fellowship brunch gathering with our incredible group of Fellows and CPL team members.

“I highly valued the opportunities for collaboration. I always valued the insights of fellows – regardless of industry and background – and this was valuable learning for me (that we don’t necessarily need to have the same workplace experience or understanding in order to support each other with our inquiries) the common thread between us all was workplace learning and development.”

PLF Pilot Participant


Expanding Horizons

Top Row L-R: Visitors from Sharjah and CPL team members at Niagara Falls, Group from Germany in OISE’s Nexus Lounge, Toronto Sign at Nathan Philips Square, Toronto. Middle Row, L-R: CPL Crew with visiting delegation in the OISE lobby, Toronto Skyline at Dusk, Presenting to a group in OISE’s Nexus Lounge. Bottom L-R: Ontario College of Teachers Sign on Building, OISE EduTours Website Landing Page, OISE Building Front

OISE EduTours: A Global Learning Experience

Back by popular demand, OISE EduTours resumed in 2023, offering unique professional development opportunities for groups visiting us from different countries around the world.

OISE EduTours provide overseas education professionals a deep dive into Ontario’s acclaimed education system, tailored to reflect the participants’ specific challenges and learning objectives.

With one or more immersive days in Toronto, EduTours participants engage in a mix of seminars, field visits to local schools, and interactive workshops. These experiences are designed to showcase innovative teaching methods, leadership strategies, and the practical application of educational theories that match the visiting cohort’s specific needs.

Popular themes have included equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility (EDIA) classroom management, School Leadership, Education Systems Reform, and embedding experiential learning / global competencies within curriculum design and delivery.

The primary benefit of the EduTours is the tailored learning experience, which not only broadens participants’ perspectives but also helps build an international network of educators. Feedback from participants highlights the value of this rich educational experience, with one group from South Korea noting the tour’s “wonderful hospitality” and “meaningful” activities that offered plenty to reflect upon and implement back home.

Hosted biannually in Spring and Autumn, OISE EduTours are more than just educational events; they are a celebration of global educational collaboration and innovation. Educators worldwide are invited to participate in these tours to enhance their professional growth and contribute to educational reform in their own countries.

An early spring EduTour Visit with colleagues from South Korea standing in front of the OISE sign in OISE's lobby
An early spring EduTour Visit with colleagues from South Korea

“Everything from the moment we first met on the first floor to the beautiful night at CN Tower including your considerate photo present was perfect and meaningful. The tour was short but powerful enough to give us so much to think about and work on.“

Ms. Balgeun Chang, Daegu Metropolitan Office of Education, South Korea

A Milestone in Educational Collaboration:
The Saudi Education Minister’s Visit to Canada

Simcoe Hall meeting hosted by OISE CPL with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Minister of Education delegation
Simcoe Hall meeting hosted by OISE CPL with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Minister of Education delegation

In a significant development in international educational cooperation, the Government of Canada led a delegation from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), including His Excellency Yousef Al-Benyan, the Saudi Minister of Education, to visit leading educational institutions.

Dr. Elisabeth Rees-Johnstone with His Excellency, Yousef Al-Benyan, the Saudi Minister of Education.
Dr. Elisabeth Rees-Johnstone with His Excellency, Yousef Al-Benyan, the Saudi Minister of Education.

This visit marked the first state-level interaction since 2018 and led to a series of engaging discussions aimed at forging collaborations in education.

Following preliminary engagements in Ottawa and at Queen’s Park with the Honourable Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education for the Province of Ontario, the delegation visited the University of Toronto.

As part of this visit, OISE CPL hosted His Excellency in a fulsome discussion on Saudi Arabia’s education goals in alignment with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan.

The visit also included a tour of our Jackman Institute for Child Studies as well as MaRS Discovery District, orchestrated in collaboration with the Canada Arab Business Council. These sessions showcased Ontario’s pioneering work in early childhood education and underscored our mutual interest in research, innovation, and the application of educational strategies to foster significant societal advancements.

“Everything was so impressively executed … the Arabic name cards, the presentation with Arabic, the lapel pins the wonderful materials – all so brilliant and so thoughtful. All of these details mean so much. Thank you.”

Global Affairs Canada, Trade Commissioner (Riyadh)


Connected Educators

Learning Experience Designers: Contextualizing Professional Learning for International Audiences

Learning Experience Designers combine principles of instructional design, educational theory, and user experience to create effective and engaging learning environments. At OISE CPL, our LXD team focuses on understanding how education professionals learn and they design experiences that facilitate this process. LX Designers shape teaching and learning by incorporating technology, interactive elements, and innovative strategies to make learning more personalized and impactful. Their expertise leads to learner-centric environments, where the needs and preferences of learners guide the creation of content and the choice of teaching methodologies, resulting in more effective and enjoyable learning experiences.  

The diverse expertise of our Learning Experience Designers, Dr. Liz Coulson, Tigist Amdemichael, and Andrzej Szeib have contributed to the design and delivery of innovative programs that are not only rooted in robust educational theory but also adaptable and relevant across different cultural contexts.


A Global Community of Practice: Building Faculty Capacity

Dr. Liz Coulson and Tigist Amdemichael are at the heart of an incredible collaboration between OISE CPL and the Sharjah Education Academy (SEA). Together they are supporting SEA in design and development of its first Post-Graduate Diploma and Master’s Degree programs in Educational Leadership. Our collaboration forms a true Community of Practice model, with SEA faculty leading the program design while Liz and Tigist provide support and guidance to help build faculty capacity.

Both Liz and Tigist guide different sub-groups each working on two sets of courses. Every two weeks, the groups come together as a whole community to share their progress, challenges, and ideas for improving elements of the design of the courses. One recent innovation resulting from the community’s exploration is the application of School SIMS. This online simulation tool for educators involving live actor scenes and artificial intelligence, allows learners to experience the consequences of their decisions while bridging the gap between theory and practice. This is one example of an innovative learning tool tested in the Community of Practice that has been very effective and is inspiring us to consider other projects where simulations could enhance learning. 

Together, Liz, Tigist, and our colleagues in Sharjah are helping us to form and enhance the Community of Practice Service Model which will support ongoing projects in 2024-25 and beyond.


Redesigning Courses for Global Access 

Andrzej has been instrumental in leading two significant initiatives aimed at broadening the global accessibility of OISE CPL’s offerings. In our collaboration with the Riyadh Schools Platform (RSP), Andrzej led the redesign of some of our key Ontario-centric teacher training courses to suit global audiences. This involved a meticulous revision of assessment and evaluation plans, ensuring they offer greater flexibility and relevance to educators in any geographic context. Andrzej has also been pivotal in ‘unlocking’ our courses for broader access. This initiative focuses on redesigning existing online courses to be on-demand and self-directed, allowing learners from around the world to engage with the content at their own pace.

Clockwise from Top Left: Celia Richardson, Jason Theodor, Martha Jez, Kathy Witherow, and Rosemary Evans – our Dream Team of OISE CPL Educators in Residence
Clockwise from Top Left: Dr. Celia Richardson, Jason Theodor, Martha Jez, Dr. Kathy Witherow, and Rosemary Evans – our Dream Team of OISE CPL Educators in Residence

A New Era of Professional Learning: OISE CPL’s Educators in Residence Transform Educational Practices

In 2023, OISE CPL welcomed five Educators in Residence (EiRs) from diverse professional sectors. This strategic addition was aimed at enhancing the Professional Learning Fellowship program to provide a more enriching learning experience for learners. Our EiRs included distinguished Education Leaders, Ddr. Kathy Witherow and Rosemary Evans, Education Entrepreneur, Martha Jez, Creative Consultant, Jason Theodor, and Organiational Development Leader, Dr. Celia Richardson.

In addition to supporting our Fellowship programs, the EiRs played pivotal roles within InnovED – OISE’s Campus-Linked Accelerator – running various programs such as Innovation Labs, Workshops, Seminars, Roundtables, member engagement and other learning events. Jason Theodor’s workshops on Artificial Intellligence in product and business development were a particular hit among the InnovED member community.

CPL’s Jenna Marinucci also collaborated with Jason in a 4-month action-research project exploring AI integration with specific administrative functions. This project helped advance the technological capabilities of OISE CPL, demonstrating the practical impact of integrating EiR expertise in our day-to-day operations.

EiRs have also provided invaluable support and guidance in some of our client service agreements. Rosemary Evans’ extensive experience as a school leader has provided so much value to our Sharjah Education Academy team. Her lived experiences and leadership have been instrumental in all aspects of the collaboration.

The introduction of Educators in Residence has marked a new era for OISE CPL, emphasizing a team-oriented approach that welcomes innovation and harnesses collective expertise to address educational challenges.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have access to such an amazing community of education leaders and innovators — it’s truly what makes our community special. Our EiRs are generous professionals who readily share their expertise and in doing so they empower other professionals to develop critical skills, stay abreast of industry trends, and drive meaningful change within their organizations.”

Dr. Elisabeth Rees-Johnstone

Over the 2023-24 fiscal year, we welcomed 47 new sessional facilitators to the OISE CPL community and welcomed back 131 facilitators to support the delivery of our courses.  

Our administrative team had the pleasure of hiring 8 work-study students through the University’s Career Learning Network (CLN) who helped support our operations throughout the year. 

CPL Team Members with Gelareh Keshavarz at the OISE Awards Ceremony, 2024
CPL Team Members with Gelareh Keshavarz at the OISE Awards Ceremony, 2024

2023-2024 OISE CPL Award of Excellence

Congratulations to Gelareh Keshavarz, this year’s recipient of the OISE Continuing & Professional Learning (CPL) Award of Excellence.

Since joining the University of Toronto in 2009 and the CPL team in 2019, Gelareh has been a pivotal force in designing, developing, and facilitating CPL courses.


Her proactive collaborations extend across Canada and internationally, enhancing learner engagement and connecting educational communities beyond borders.

As a Learning Consultant, Gelareh meticulously tailors learning solutions to meet the diverse needs, interests, and cultural backgrounds of learners, ensuring maximum engagement and effectiveness. She is committed to expanding CPL’s community reach and supporting education mobility, and applies Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) principles and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) guidelines to her work, ensuring student-centered relevancy.

Recently, she began co-developing CPL’s inaugural Occupation-Specific Language Program, further testament to her dedication and innovative approach in the field of professional learning.

Read more about the 2023-24 OISE Teaching Excellence Awards Recipients


Community Collaboration

OISE CPL Team with USN Colleagues in Norway
OISE CPL Team with USN Colleagues in Norway

Building a Future Through Collaboration: Building a Community of Practice for USN International Baccalaureate Educators

In an era where education demands both flexibility and deep, integrative practices, the collaboration between the University of South-Eastern Norway (USN) and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) stands out as an example of progressive development. Over the past four years, this partnership has thrived through a series of annual facilitated sessions, designed to fortify a professional learning community among 14 private schools within the Norwegian International Baccalaureate (IB) Network. This initiative has expanded to include up to 22 schools, highlighting a commitment to broadening its impact.

Michael, Elisabeth, and Brian posing with USN Banner
Michael, Elisabeth, and Brian posing with USN Banner

The primary goal of this collaboration is to foster a vibrant community of practice for K-12 IB educators. This community aims to create a collaborative space where educators can engage in inquiry to address their schools’ specific International Baccalaureate Program Development Plans.

The goal of these sessions is to apply practical insights into their educational contexts and reflect on the outcomes, to cultivate a culture of shared knowledge and continuous improvement.

The impact of this collaboration is most notably seen in its “adaptive, continuous improvement methodology,” which effectively addresses the specific, practical needs of educators. This approach has allowed the program to be highly responsive and relevant, ensuring that the insights and strategies developed are immediately applicable and beneficial.

Reported satisfaction and success stories from participants underscore the value and effectiveness of this collaborative effort. Educators have expressed appreciation for the practical framework and the opportunity to engage in meaningful, reflective practice that directly influences their teaching and their students’ learning outcomes.

Looking ahead, the partnership is poised for its next phase, with plans already underway for a follow-up session in Norway in October 2024.

“The ‘Building a Future Through Collaboration’ project at OISE exemplifies our commitment to fostering a vibrant community of practice. By leveraging the collective expertise of our team, that in turn models and promotes innovative teaching practices, we are contributing meaningfully to our collective professional growth.”

Dr. Elisabeth Rees-Johnstone

seven young kids with backpacks walking toward a school

Building Bridges for the Future: Our Partnerships with Ontario School Boards

Education is rapidly adapting to global demands, and our partnerships with school boards are central to this evolution. We’re collaboratively pushing the boundaries of traditional educational standards to challenge teaching and learning norms.

Ontario schools are global leaders in progressive educational improvements, and are dedicated to creating inclusive environments that meet diverse student needs.

Our multi-dimensional collaborations began with one Greater Toronto Area (GTA) school board in early 2023, where we met to explore opportunities for enhancing educator leadership skills, leading to our Education Leaders program being customized for the identified needs of the school board’s teachers.

UofT's Paul Dietz, posing with Animatronic Characters
UofT’s Paul Dietz, posing with Animatronic Characters

With this particular collaboration, various UofT and OISE research partnerships and innovation projects have been developed, including an intiative with Paul Dietz, a Distinguished Engineer in Residence at the University of Toronto, on advanced animatronics, now being tested in Ontario classrooms.

Dr. Eunice Jang from OISE also introduced the pioneering Balance AI technology to our school boards, laying the groundwork for future AI policies within our schools-network.

OISE's Dr. Eunice Jang, of Balance AI
OISE’s Dr. Eunice Jang, of Balance AI

Looking forward, we are excited to deepen our school board partnerships. In June, we plan to meet with school board leadership to align our strategic objectives and identify further collaborative opportunities. These types of alignment meetings are crucial for developing a roadmap that aligns with the board’s strategic goals, ensuring our initiatives are impactful and synchronized with their educational aims.

Our collaborations with Ontario schools exemplifies how joint efforts can bridge research and practical application in education, emphasizing the importance of adapting to the evolving needs of educational boards in ways that significantly impact the community. Through our ongoing partnership, we are actively shaping the future of education—a journey of mutual growth and commitment to excellence.

“Each new initiative we build together opens new doors and sets the stage for further collaboration. It’s a relationship that extends beyond individual projects; it is a comprehensive engagement model that serves as a blueprint for interactions with other educational boards.”

Brian Kalakula, Partnership Development Officer, OISE, UofT

University of Toronto Entrepreneurship leaders taking part in the Accelerator Summit sitting at tables, talking and writing on sticky notes
University of Toronto Entrepreneurship leaders taking part in the Accelerator Summit

University of Toronto Entrepreneurship Accelerator Summit: Fostering Collaboration and Innovation

In January 2023, the University of Toronto Entrepreneurship (UTE) community held its inaugural Accelerator Summit, a landmark event designed to strengthen the bonds and synergies among its 12+ campus-linked accelerators.

A full image of dozens of sticky notes wtih small writing - the output of one of the workshop sessions.

The summit featured a series of engaging activities including team-building icebreakers and exercises like the “Stop, Start, Continue” session, where participants reflected on past operations and envisioned new paths to leverage their diverse strengths.

Keynote presentations from distinguished speakers added a layer of depth and inspiration. Thara Pillai, Director of Alumni Engagement at Harvard Innovation Labs, and Leah Cowen, VP of Research and Innovation at the University of Toronto, delivered impactful talks. Pillai discussed extending support to entrepreneurial alumni, while Cowen shared insights into fostering innovation in research and the management of evolving fungal pathogens, highlighting the intersection of academia and real-world impact.The summit wasn’t just a gathering but a proactive arena for professional development, with participants actively discussing improvements for future events and expressing a keen interest in more frequent collaborative engagements. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with suggestions for increasing community engagements and sharing resources more effectively across the network.

Following the session, UTE launched the CLA Community Roundtable, a pilot series aimed at providing regular opportunities for collaboration and discussion among accelerator leads. This initiative is a direct response to the community’s desire for a more interconnected and supportive ecosystem.

” It was a great first step in connecting a group of highly motivated, excited, and passionate leaders in this space and there is so much more room for growth in opportunity with this type of event.”

Jenna Marinucci, OISE CPL


Operational Highlights

The following 2023-24 statistics provide a brief overview of our performance across a number of key areas:

These performance indicators are aligned to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and highlight how our work is grounded in equity, diversity, and inclusion while working to improve educator well-being, education quality, education work environments and operations, and education partnerships. 

The Sustainable Development Goals Icons from 1 - 17

Professional Growth 

Supporting educators’ career pathways and professional growth 

During our 2023-24 fiscal year, 4,833 learners participated in CPL courses, customized programs, and services. 4,556 enrolled directly in our courses, while 544 participated in closed enrolment (customised programs & services).

We issued 785 Certificates to learners, as well as 2,436 Records of Learning for learners to apply earned professional development (PD) credits toward further accreditation from various organisations, including the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT), the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO), the Canadian Council of Professional Certification (CCPC), and the Canadian Counselling & Psychotherapy Association (CCPA), and the Institute for Performance & Learning (I4PL) to name a few.



Widening opportunities & making participation easier

Top 10 locations by number of learners

  • Canada
  • USA
  • China
  • Hong Kong
  • Norway
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Korea
  • United Kingdom
  • Japan


Making learning engagements relevant to current and emerging education domains / needs

Our courses equip education professionals with the skills, competencies, and professional standards needed to achieve and maintain a professional license or certification required for career advancement. Many of our courses and programs are accredited or approved by industry bodies.