Innovative Learning Centre

To purposefully and meaningfully imagine the future of education together.

Our Vision

The University of British Columbia Okanagan educates some of the brightest minds in the world. The Innovative Learning Centre (ILC) brings together students, educators, and industry partners to collaborate and engage in a cycle of learning in order to create new innovations in the world of education. We challenge the idea of a traditional classroom by exploring how physical and virtual environments can affect and improve learning.

  • To foster collaborations of academics, educators, and industry leaders signalling collaborative possibilities through actions, interactions, and transactions.
  • To design and develop places-spaces for exploration, creation, and experiential innovations focusing on pedagogical excellence.
  • To further scholarship, research and community engagement locally, provincially, nationally, and globally.


Fostering collaborations of academics, educators, and industry leaders signalling collaborative possibilities through actions, interactions, and transactions.

ILC Governance through a director and an advisory board. Advisory Board members have included:

Industry Representatives:
Robert Arn, President, IDEVCOR Media Inc
Shane Austin, User Experience Designer, Founder of co+Lab

NGOs & Private Education:
Karine Veldhoen, Executive Director, Niteo Africa & CEO, Willowstone Academy

Okanagan College Representatives:
Nancy Darling, Manager: Women in Trades Training Okanagan College

Rural Education Representatives:
Scott Anderson, Middle School Principal: School District 83 North Okanagan Shuswap
Desiree Marshall-Peer, Teacher/Curriculum Developer: School District 83 North Okanagan Shuswap

University Representatives:
Deb Carter, ILC Research Project Coordinator
Susan Crichton, ILC Director
Constance Crompton, Assistant Professor: Creative and Critical Studies
Derek Gratz, Associate Director: University-Industry Liaison Office & e@ubc
Bowen Hui, Instructor: Computer Sciences
Carolyn Labun, Professor of Teaching: Engineering
Patricia Lasserre, Associate Provost: Enrollment & Academic Programs
Bill Latta, Learning Instructional Support Specialist: Centre for Teaching & Learning & ILC
Barbara Marcolin, Assistant Professor, Management
Serveh Naghashbandi, Student Representative: IGS PhD Program
Don Thompson, IT Deputy Chief Technology Officer, UBC Okanagan
Freeda Wilson, Student Representative: IGS Doctoral Program

Urban Education:
Jon Rever, Assistant Superintendent of Schools: School District 23 Central Okanagan

Starting with a pilot project in 2013, ITA | Youth Discover the Trades Programs have funded province-wide Maker Days, facilitated professional learning events underpinned by Taking Making into Schools, a researched-informed immersive professional learning model licensed under Creative Commons.

Mitacs is a national, not-for-profit organization that has designed and delivered research and training programs in Canada for 18 years. Working with 60 universities, thousands of companies, and both federal and provincial governments, Mitacs builds partnerships that support industrial and social innovation in Canada.

Accelerate Internship: Targeting Achievement in Higher Order Thinking and STEM: An Interprofessional approach
Partner: MathToons Media Inc.
Project Overview

Accelerate Internship: Teacher Assessment Using New Technologies
Industry Partner: FreshGrade
Project Overview

2016 Congress: University of Calgary
Panel Discussion: The Professor as Social Innovator – Evolving Roles on Campus and in Communities
Newsroom: Mitacs panel focuses on the role of academics in preparing future leaders

Skills Exploration Days
Building on the Maker Day | ITA BC model and Alberta Education’s Career and Technology Foundations (CTF) Program of Studies, Grade 6 to 9 students explore a common Design Challenge, use a design thinking process, and sketch a solution in the classroom. The morning of the Skills Exploration Day, the students participate in Learn-A-Skill stations. In the afternoon, they prototype their design sketch using the tools and materials from the stations.
Learn More

Nancy Darling and her team from Women in Trades Training (WITT) have sponsored and supported numerous ILC events starting with the inaugural Maker Day November 2013 and Maker Day at Okanagan College.

Places – Spaces

Designing and developing places-spaces for exploration, creation, and experiential innovations focusing on pedagogical excellence.

  • Work with faculty, staff, students, and affiliates to provide appropriate tools and spaces to imagine and explore meaningful innovations and pedagogical practices
  • Work with developers and innovators to incubate significant educational tools and learning environment
  • Support faculty and students to obtain grants and other funding options to support and sustain their innovations
  • Provide consultation and leadership in the Okanagan Valley and beyond to pedagogical excellence in a time of change and possibility (e.g. school districts, ministries, NGOs, etc.)
  • Facilitated and nimble
  • Supported by academics with a proven record of innovation and pedagogical excellence
  • Networked to existing partnerships with ICT innovators / developers in the Okanagan Valley
  • Networked with existing academic partnerships / affiliations with national and international universities

We envision classroom places-spaces where one can explore, create and experience innovations in pedagogical excellence. Imagine that places-spaces signal possibilities of observing and participating in the actions | interactions | transactions of those teaching and learning within an environment – both physically and virtually.

Design Studio (EME 3118)

The ILC conceptualization of a Design Studio is that of a workplace for people engaged in conceiving, designing and developing new innovative educational practices.

Design Studio development includes technological resources best suited for enabling the incubation of significant educational tools and rethinking learning environments.


In the News:

Learning Lab (EME 1123)

The Learning Lab (EME 1123) is a home for educators, undergraduate and graduate students, visiting academics, entrepreneurs, researchers and industry partners. Each partnership benefits from collaborative projects and synergies afforded by the layout of the unique design and layout of the Learning Lab.

“We’ve used the learning lab as an inspiring meeting space for our team and as a place to imagine the integration of our tools within future classrooms. Meeting at an educational innovation centre helps support the priority of including the “educational research” component of our development” ~ MathToons Media Inc

This flexible place-space has furnishings and technology specifically designed to adapt to the learner. It is a creative learning environment where students, educators and industry partners can decide how they want to imagine, explore and discover.


Living Wall

Living wall is a project about designing and implementing a vertical garden for the ILC by students and faculty members. It brings together elements of design, air quality, learning environments, belongingness, and curricular ties. This project informed one of the Design Challenges, Food Security in A Cooler Climate

part of the Taking Making into Classrooms Toolkit used with the Taking Making into Classrooms Toolkit (PDF, download)

Gesture Table

The Gesture Table disrupts the way we interact with interactive white board. It serves as the next step in the evolution of human-computer interaction. Collaborating with Total Interiors designers and UBC Okanagan campus IT Services, we designed our Gesture Table using a 52” LED TV, Mac mini computer, Leap Motion Controller, DOS, mouse, and touch screen to gesture creating an opportunity to engage in a new ways.

Pedagogical Incubator (EME 1110)

A quiet place-space for small groups to answer the following questions, in a time of substantial change, globalization, and ubiquitous access to information.

  • What does it mean to teach well?
  • What might teaching and learning look like?
  • What environments support / foster changes in teaching & learning?

From discussions based on the questions above, the following events were co-hosted

The following list provides an overview of works created since the ILC was opened (2012) by staff, students and collaborators.

  • Naghshbandi, S. (2014). Identifying secondary school teachers’ understandings and implementations of design thinking within a design-based research Approach.
  • Bourne, C., Crichton, S., & Carter, D. (2015). Reflections on service-learning situated in challenging contexts: Lessons learned. Advances in service-learning research series, Service-learning pedagogy: How does it measure up? American Education Research Association.
  • Crichton, S. (2012). Using digital tools in qualitative research – Supporting integrity, simplicity, deep insight and social change. In C. Nunes (Ed.)Online research methods in urban and planning studies. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.
  • Crichton, S. (2013). E-Portfolio. In R.C. Richey (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Terminology for Educational and Communications and Technology. New York: Springer.
  • Crichton, S. (2015). Living and working in a global space: Liminality within an academic life. In K. Ragoonaden & B. Kanpol (Eds.). Contested sites in education: The quest for the public intellectual, identity and service (pp. 49-60). New York: Peter Lang Publisher.
  • Crichton, S., & Carter, D. (2015). Taking Making Into the Schools: An Immersive Professional Development Approach. In M. Niess & H. Gillow-Wiles (Eds.). Handbook of Research on Teacher Education in the Digital Age. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.
  • Crichton, S., & Carter, D. (2016). Transformative learning: Musings on space, place, pedagogy and the role of educational technology. In E. Miller, D. Becker, & K. Becker (Eds.). Technology for Transformation: The Confluence of Educational Technology and Social Justice. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing Inc.
  • Crichton, S., & Kinash, S. (2013). Enabling learning for disabled students: Considering changes in teaching and learning. In M. G. Moore (ed.). The handbook of distance education, Third Edition. New York: Routledge.
  • Crichton, S., & Onguko, B. (2013). Appropriate technologies for challenging contexts.In S. Marshall and W. Kinuthia (Eds.) On the Move: Mobile Learning for Development. (pp. 25-42). Charolette, NC: Information Age Publishing.
  • Bourne, C., Crichton, S. & Yakong, V. (2016). Supporting literacy in challenging contexts: Reflections of a global service-learning project for teacher-candidates in the Upper East Region, Ghana. In A. Tinkler, B. Tinkler, J. R. Strait & V. M. Jagla, (Eds). Advances in service-learning research: Service-learning to advance social justice in a time of radical inequality.
  • Carter, D. & Crichton, S. (2014) Empowering twenty-first century assessment practices: designing technologies as agents of change, Educational Media International, 51(4), 295-309, DOI: 10.1080/09523987.2014.977007
  • Crichton, S. (2014). Using a design approach to leapfrogging pedagogy in challenging contexts. Electronic Journal of e-Learning, 12(1), 3-13.
  • Crichton, S., Bourne, C. & Carter, D. (2014). Considering design principles for good global service learning (GSL) projects within the academy: Musings on intent and vulnerability. (Guest Web log content) Retrieved from a href=”” target=”_blank”>
  • Crichton, S., Pegler, K. & White, D. (2012). Personal devices in public settings: Lessons learned from an iPod Touch / iPad project. Electronic Journal of e-Learning, 10 (1), 23 – 31.
  • Macintrye Latta, M. & Crichton, S. (2015). Innovation’s renewing potential: Seeing and acting mindfully within the fecundity of educative experiences. Education and Culture, 31 (2), 27-38.
  • Schmidt & Carbol Consulting Group. (December 2013). Literature Review. Prepared for Alberta Education as part of the deliverables for the Alberta Distance Education Review Contract.
  • Schmidt & Carbol Consulting Group. (December 2013). Summary Final Report – New Directions for Distance Education: Toward Flexible Learning. Prepared for Alberta Education as part of the deliverables for the Alberta Distance Education Review Contract
  • Schmidt & Carbol Consulting Group. (October 2013). Phase 3 – Interim Final Report. Prepared for Alberta Education as part of the deliverables for the Alberta Distance Education Review Contract
  • Schmidt & Carbol Consulting Group. (2013). Preliminary Recommendations. Prepared for Alberta Education as part of the deliverables for the Alberta Distance Education Review Contract
  • Schmidt & Carbol Consulting Group. (July 2013). Phase 3: Program Evaluation (Value for Funding). Prepared for Alberta Education as part of the deliverables for the Alberta Distance Education Review Contract
  • Schmidt & Carbol Consulting Group. (July 2013). Alberta Distance Education Review Project – Second Interim Report. Prepared for Alberta Education as part of the deliverables for the Alberta Distance Education Review Contract
  • Schmidt & Carbol Consulting Group. (January 2013). Alberta Distance Education Review Project – Phase 1 Report. Prepared for Alberta Education as part of the deliverables for the Alberta Distance Education Review Contract
  • Bourne, C., Crichton, S. & Carter, D. (2015). Using Project Design Principles for Good Global Service-Learning Projects. Case Study Presentation. International Service Learning Summit: Global Communities Partnership Conference. march 4-6, Durham, NC.
  • Carter, D., & Crichton, S. (2014). Empowering 21st century assessment practices: Designing technologies as agents of change. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of American Educational Research Association, Philadelphia, PA.
  • Carter, D., Onguko, B. & Thomas, R. (2012). Education: a discipline engaging our borders and enabling our crossings. 4th Annual Borders and Border Crossings, IGSA conference, UBC.
  • Carter, D., Veldhoen, K., & Crichton, S. (2013). Innovations in Visualizing Student Assessment Information. The Canadian Society for the Study of Education (CSSE) 2013 conference, Victoria, BC
  • Crichton, S. (2012, June). Emerging appropriate technologies and the need to consider new approaches to professional development. Paper presented at the 7th International Conference on eLearning (ICEL 2012), The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
  • Crichton, S. (2013, June). Leapfrogging pedagogy: A design approach to transforming learning in challenging contexts. Paper presented at the 8th International Conference on eLearning (ICEL 2013), The Cape Peninsula University of Technology Cape Town, South Africa.
  • Crichton, S., & Carter, D. (2014). Sensing a LEAP in Interaction: Building a Case for a Gesture Interface. CSSE Session: Post-Literate Pedagogies: The Digital Gymnasium. Brock University, St. Catharines, ON 24 – 28 May 2014.
  • Naghshbandi, S., Crichton, S., & Carter, D. (2014). Use of design thinking as a disruptive element to focus collaborative problem finding among K-9 educators. 8th International Conference on Design Principles and Practices. January 2014, Vancouver, BC.

ILC Professional Publications

ILC publications are collaborative responses to either a Group’s need or Special Events. All ILC professional publications are under Creative Commons Licensing CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

DIY Guidebook. This guidebook will introduce you to the world of simple microprocessors and coding. The examples described throughout the guide show how microcontrollers and coding can be easily incorporated into Design Thinking and Making activities for classrooms and schools. Published 2016 (Issuu)

Piloted in 2013, Maker Day is a research-informed immersive professional learning event sponsored by Industry Training Authority in BC (ITA BC). These events are based on the Taking Making into Schools and Classrooms model developed and facilitated by Dr. Susan Crichton and Deb Carter (2013-2018).

Taking Making into Classrooms: A Toolkit Fostering Curiosity and Imagination in Alberta Classrooms (PDF download)

This toolkit integrates classroom learning activities with a learn-a-skill event sponsored by Skills Canada Alberta and draws from the Career and Technology Foundations (CTF) program. More about Skills Exploration Days and Teacher Resources

Taking Making into Schools: A Toolkit for Innovation and Change in Teaching and Learning
Thanks to funding from International Development Research Centre’s (IDRC) Canada Africa Research Exchange Grant (CAREG), Drs. Susan Crichton and Lilian Vikiru have developed and field tested this professional development approach to help teachers modify their classroom practices. Published 2015 (Issuu)

Taking Making into Classrooms in Challenging Contexts: A Toolkit Fostering Curiosity, Imagination and Active Learning
Collaborative work of Dr. Susan Crichton (UBC Okanagan), Dr. Wachira Nichols (AKU, IED), and teachers from Dar es Salaam and Nachingwea regions. This toolkit situates Making within the context of schools in challenging contexts and provides teachers with a set of classroom resources. Funding provided by the Innovative Learning Centre (ILC) at UBC Okanagan and Strengthening Education Systems in East Africa (SESEA) co-funded by Global Affairs Canada and Aga Khan Foundation Canada. from the Canadian Department of International Development (DFID).
Published 2017 (Issuu)

One resource used in this Toolkit comes from Niteo Africa SocietyWhen We Give Children Books (link)

Addendum: Taking Making into Classrooms in Challenging Contexts
Additional Handouts for Creating Simple Storybooks and Picture Books. Two New Teacher Sample Resources: Foldscopes (using origami microscopes) and Fun with Flight (mathematics and physics).
Published 2017 (Issuu)

The unConference Toolkit was developed in preparation for the inaugural Digital Youth and Learning unConference hosted by Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT) in Nairobi, Kenya in May 2013. Published: 2014 (Issuu)