Keynote Speakers

Learn more about our 2024 keynote speakers:

  • Visiting keynote:
    Dr. Awneet Sivia, Associate Vice-President, Teaching and Learning, University of the Fraser Valley
  • Memorial University keynote:
    Dr. Jeannette Byrne, Associate Professor, School of Human Kinetics and Recreation, Memorial University

Visiting Keynote

Dr. Awneet Sivia

Associate Vice-President, Teaching and Learning
University of the Fraser Valley

Dr. Sivia stands outside Peter Jones Learning Commons with arm resting on railing.

(Why) Isn’t All Teaching Innovative? Putting Innovation in/to Practice

The value of higher education is being tested on multiple levels by social, cultural, and geopolitical tensions, locally and globally. Post-secondary institutions need to be responsive and innovative in preparing graduates and positioning them for what Gannon (2021) calls “radical hope”. In the face of these challenges and the paradoxes that exist in higher education, educators must transform what they teach, how they teach it, and why they teach what they do.

In this presentation, I suggest that all teaching is inherently innovative. When we shift from “we teach content” to “we teach students”, each new student and every new class from year to year is an invitation to never teach the same way twice. This means we need to put innovation in practice by continually refining teaching through our “lenses of knowing”: learning from students, colleagues, research, and self-reflection. I draw on these four lenses of knowing to share powerful examples of innovative teaching across higher education. In today’s university classrooms, faculty are taking bold steps to push their practice forward through signature pedagogies, humanizing approaches, ungrading assessments, and something I call “first touch” with the curriculum. The impacts on student and faculty engagement are significant. Putting innovation in/to practice is not only important for transforming teaching, it is a call to action for higher education.


Dr. Awneet Sivia currently holds the position of associate vice-president, teaching and learning, at the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, British Columbia. She has been at UFV since 2011 as a chair, and associate professor in the Faculty of Education, Community, and Human Development.

Prior to UFV, Dr. Sivia worked as a high school science teacher and went on to become an education coordinator, faculty associate, and instructor at Simon Fraser University. For the past twenty years, Dr. Sivia has been working in teacher education programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. In her current role as AVP teaching and learning, she works with a team of designers, specialists and facilitators to support and promote high standards in teaching practices, curriculum, assessment and multimodal instructional delivery. With a vision to empower educators to teach for local and global citizenship, social change and critical agency, Dr. Sivia and her team engage UFV educators in communities of practice to promote dialogue and collaborative problem-solving.

In this post-pandemic innovation phase, Dr. Sivia calls on educators to look beyond pandemic pedagogies and expand the repertoire of pedagogical arrangements and assessments to confront the onset of generative AI technologies. She believes that post-secondary institutions are on the cusp of a monumental shift in what we do, how we do it, and what impact and relevance we need to have in order to hold the unique place in society that universities and colleges can hold – places of becoming, learning, doing, and dreaming.

Dr. Sivia's research and scholarship spans the areas of science teacher education, diversity leadership, social justice education, humanizing pedagogies and leadership in online education. Her latest research studies focus on Indigenizing self-study research, humanizing approaches to curriculum, practices of online school leaders and equity in university program admissions. She is currently working on a study to explore the experiences of first-year faculty as they move through to tenure.

Dr. Sivia also leads a network of South Asian Canadian teacher educators representing five BC universities, and she is actively engaged in decolonizing and diversifying education at all levels by advocating for systemic change. She has been a speaker at TEDx Abbotsford and was honoured with UFV’s Teaching Excellence Award in 2021, the West Coast Teaching Excellence Award in 2022, and was recognized as a recipient of the 3M National Teaching Fellowship in 2022.

Dr. Sivia loves her forest walks, spending time with her family and binge-watching Netflix, on occasion.

Memorial University Keynote

Dr. Jeannette Byrne

Associate Professor, School of Human Kinetics and Recreation
Memorial University

Dr. Byrne smiling in foreground with window in background showing St. John's campus.

Let’s focus on learning – teaching innovation can make a difference.

I entered academia because of a love of learning and a passion for helping others to learn. I loved lecturing, being in the classroom and watching students as the ‘ah ha’ moments happened. I taught in the same way that I had been taught. I assessed in the same way that I had been assessed. And then, slowly, I realized I had to change – I recognized that, almost universally, my students were not learning, but were instead working as hard as they possibly could to avoid getting a bad grade. In this presentation I will share with you the learning journey I then embarked on and the central role that my students have played in helping me try to make learning the focus of my teaching. In sharing my journey, I will talk about how innovations, both big and small, are helping my students shift their focus from grades to learning and in so doing, become more engaged learners again. We will explore the good, the bad and ugly of grades, in an effort to find a better way. This won’t be a ‘How to’ session, but rather an opportunity for us all to stop and reflect on how the innovations we bring to our teaching can serve to bring some fun back in to teaching for teachers and learners alike.


Dr. Jeannette Byrne is an associate professor in the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation. She teaches a variety of courses within the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation and recently she has begun teaching in nursing, delivering a course to students at the Centre for Nursing Studies, Faculty of Nursing and the 3 Satellite Sites. As a lover of learning and a passionate educator, Dr. Byrne’s focus is on helping her students reach their full learning potential by striving to optimize the learning environment she creates in her courses. Teaching primarily lab-based courses, Dr. Byrne works closely with her various learning facilitation teams to create learning experiences for students that both challenge them, while at the same time supporting them in their academic journey. She views herself as a partner with students in the learning process and everything she does in the classroom is guided by her belief that all students want to learn – the role of teachers is to create an environment that can help to facilitate that learning.

An overarching goal of Dr. Byrne’s teaching is that her students develop a deep understanding of and appreciation for the course material in order to apply their learning in situations outside the classroom. While she uses many different approaches in her teaching, at the foundation of her approach to teaching is to have students “think, process and do.” Dr. Byrne is the recipient of the 2018 President's Award for Distinguished Teaching and was part of the inaugural Teaching Enhancement Through Scholarly Inquiry (TESI) program at Memorial. Her research program currently focuses on the role that assessment plays in student engagement and learning.