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OCE’s AdvancingEducation Program Funds Exciting Classroom Innovations

November 21, 2016

TORONTO, November 21, 2016 – The first six projects to be funded through the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) AdvancingEducation program include a game-based  approach to motivating children, a multisensory chair for children with autism and a new approach to distance education. 

A partnership between the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (MGCS) and OCE, AdvancingEducation brings innovation into classrooms across the province by matching needs in the public education system with innovative products and services from Ontario companies. With the goal of advancing innovation in the ed-tech ecosystem, a second round of funding is underway and OCE will be accepting applications until January 23, 2017.  

OCE will also be presenting the AdvancingEducation Partnering Forum which will provide insight into challenges and opportunities in Ontario’s public education system that could be addressed using innovative technologies. The forum will take place Wednesday November 23, 2016 from 8:30am to 4:00pm at the Tannery Event Centre, 151 Charles Street West in Kitchener, Ontario.

Originally unveiled in February of this year, the $5 million AdvancingEducation program will connect Ontario’s English and French publically funded elementary and high schools, and post-secondary institutions with Ontario companies to test early market interest and demonstrate innovative products and technologies in an education setting. The program invests in collaborative innovation projects as a means of building a strong case for adoption and system-wide scaling.

Successful projects in the AdvancingEducation program will assist students in learning everything from time and task management utilizing assistive technology, to demonstrating knowledge integration through complex and instructionally-rich simulations.

“OCE’s AdvancingEducation program brings innovation right into the classroom, delivering real benefits to Ontario’s education system and, most importantly, the students,” says Dr. Tom Corr, OCE’s President and CEO. 

The first six projects to receive funding are:

  • A media-rich, self-directed program designed to strengthen students’ skills in mathematics, increase achievement in mathematics and increase student engagement levels. Partners: Humber College ITAL, Toronto Catholic District School Board and Vretta Inc.
  • An expansion of Brili’s internationally successful routine and activity time management software platform to meet the specific time management and self-regulation needs of students in classrooms. Partners: École secondaire publique Omer-Deslauriers, Semaphore Research Cluster at the University of Toronto and Brili, Inc., with support from IBM Canada Inc.
  • An initiative that integrates partners from post-secondary institutions, K-12 and the technology sector to build a bridge of experiential, generation-engaged, personalized education delivered through common mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets. Partners: York University, Quanser Consulting Inc., and St. Robert Catholic High School
  • A partnership that will improve assessment of student work in the distance education setting using an online collaborative grading and analytics platform. Partners: University of Waterloo, University of Guelph and Crowdmark
  • The development of an intelligent simulation platform through which non-technical teams can build and share complex, interactive simulations in law, medicine, engineering and business using cognitive computing and natural language processing. Partners: Queen’s University and Ametros Learning
  • The development of a telecommunications system, called the Webchair, with a multisensory system, called the Emoti-chair, so that children with autism can control their social and auditory presence at school. Partners: Ryerson University, Tactile Audio Displays Inc. and WebChair  

“Ontario has one of the highest-performing education systems in the world. We will continue to work with educators and leaders to build on our accomplishments by supporting innovation, transforming our classrooms and giving our students every opportunity to excel and build a prosperous province,” said Marie-France Lalonde, Minister of Government and Consumer Services.


AdvancingEducation Partnering Forum

Wednesday November 23, 2016

8:30am to 4:00pm

Tannery Event Centre, 151 Charles Street West

Kitchener, Ontario

Register here.


Media Contact:

Andrew Robertson

Manager, Media Relations

t: 416.861.1092 x 1092

About Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) Inc.

OCE drives the commercialization of cutting-edge research across key market sectors to build the economy of tomorrow and secure Ontario's global competitiveness. In doing this, OCE fosters the training and development of the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs and is a key partner with Ontario's industry, universities, colleges, research hospitals, investors and governments. A champion of leading-edge technologies, best practices and research, OCE invests in sectors such as advanced health, digital media and information communications, advanced manufacturing and materials, and cleantech including energy, environment and water. OCE is a key partner in delivering Ontario's Innovation Agenda as a member of the province's Ontario Network of Excellence (ONE). Funded by the Government of Ontario, the ONE is made up of regional and sector-focused organizations and helps Ontario-based entrepreneurs rapidly grow their company and create jobs

AdvancingEducation Backgrounder- Partners

Partners: Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB), Humber College and Vretta Inc.
Facing weak mathematics performance across Ontario, TCDSB recognized that a provincial solution is needed to help students achieve their full potential. Vretta Inc. collaborated with Ontario’s 24 colleges to develop the Ontario College Math Test (OCMT), a unique self-directed program that contains diagnostic math assessments, interactive remediation modules and carefully tailored tests. In providing TCDSB students in Grade 9 Applied Mathematics with access to the OCMT program, this project will strengthen students’ skills and achievement in mathematics and also increase engagement levels.

Partners: École secondaire publique Omer-Deslauriers, University of Toronto and Brili, Inc.
With support from IBM Canada Inc., this collaboration will develop a version of Brili’s internationally successful software platform to meet the specific time management and self-regulation needs of students in classroom settings. Brili is an assistive technology designed to help children stay motivated and on task as they perform and learn daily routine activities. Its game-based approach to learning time management and life skills keeps children motivated while providing caregivers with advanced real-time, remote monitoring and performance analysis so they can engage constructively in the child’s progress.

Partners: York University, St. Robert CHS and Quanser Consulting Inc.
Even students who excel in high school math classes can struggle with the demands of post-secondary STEM to the point that success, and even retention, are real concerns. This initiative integrates partners from York University, St. Robert CHS (K-12), and Quanser to build experiential, generation-engaged, personalized education that helps bridge the gap between high school math and STEM concepts taught at post-secondary institutions using common mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets.

Partners: University of Waterloo, University of Guelph and Crowdmark, Inc.
This project aims to improve the assessment of student work in the distance education setting. Crowdmark, an education technology company based in Toronto, provides an online collaborative grading and analytics platform that has already cut grading time and improved student learning at 30 universities worldwide. Working collaboratively, the partners will validate the potential for online collaborative grading in distance education scenarios in Ontario.

Partners: Queen's University and Ametros Learning

Simulations of real-world scenarios and challenges are powerful methods for students to gain the professional knowledge needed to succeed in their careers, but they can be prohibitively expensive. Building on Ametros Learning’s Digital Simulation Platform (ADSP), the Queen’s University Faculty of Law, Ametros Learning and a consortium of international law schools from Australia, the U.K. and the U.S., are partnering to develop an intelligent simulation platform that will allow non-technical teams to build and share complex, interactive simulations in law, medicine, engineering and business.

Partners: Ryerson University, Tactile Audio Displays Inc. and WebChair
Children with autism face unique physical and social challenges that can often lead to being bullied or socially isolated at school. To improve their educational experience, the project partners are collaborating to create WebMoti, a platform that integrates a high-tech video conference system, called the WebChair, with a multisensory system called the Emoti-Chair. The WebChair allows students to attend classes remotely, using a video and sound system that lets them feel like they’re sitting at their desk. The Emoti-Chair provides an audio tactile system that allows users to feel sounds.