Letter of Support from Ian Linkletter

 To whom it may concern:

My name is Ian Linkletter. I work at the British Columbia Institute of Technology as an Emerging Technology & Open Education Librarian. I am writing this letter in support of Brenna Clarke Gray’s tenure application at Thompson Rivers University. I have reviewed the Learning Design and Innovations  Promotion and Tenure Standards and will focus my comments on List 2.4.2(b): Leadership in the Professional Role.

I have learned from Brenna through her provincial and global leadership as a public educator, including through conference keynotes, community workshops, academic writing, and scholarly podcasts. However, it is through three personal experiences that I can best attest to her leadership in the field of educational technology.

The first time I worked directly with Brenna was in the Summer of 2020. BCcampus approached Brenna and I to develop and deliver 6 web-based professional development sessions as part of a larger series called Adapting to COVID-19. They were intended for and attended by dozens of BC-based educators across institutions and disciplines, and their purpose was to improve teaching and learning. Our sessions consisted of a webinar called “In It Together – Building Community and Enacting Care in Online Environments” followed by weekly drop-in sessions oriented around learning design, learning technology, and effective use of multimedia in educational contexts. We also developed a collection of resources to bridge and enhance the sessions. Brenna helped bring together a team of experts from UBC, Douglas College, the Justice Institute of British Columbia, and Thompson Rivers University to contribute specialized knowledge. Our “In It Together” series was a big success, and BCcampus told us that out of almost 50 sessions, our webinar was one of the highest attended, and its recording was one of the most watched. Brenna’s leadership made these sessions shine, and together we helped many educators in BC improve their teaching.

In our BCcampus webinar, Brenna created space to discuss an important topic: the harms of e-proctoring software on students. As it would soon become clear, this space was precious. After the session, I continued my criticism online, and in September 2020 one company I criticized by name sued me for 8 tweets. I was in danger, but couldn’t talk about it. Brenna wrote an open letter which informed our communities of what had happened and invited public participation. Before long, Brenna’s professional outreach had swept the globe. Here is how The Verge described it:

“[H]undreds of university faculty, staff, administrators, and students from across the US and Canada, as well as countries including South Africa, Australia, the UK, Italy, and Mexico have signed an open letter titled “In Defence of Ian Linkletter.”

“We need critics like Ian to force transparency in spaces where it is difficult to find, as we cannot critique what we don’t know,” the letter reads. “Ian’s attempts to shine light in these dark corners should be — and are, by the EdTech community — met with gratitude.”

I am so thankful to Brenna for her community leadership. It changed my life, and is but one example of how Brenna’s commitment to social justice has had global reach and impact. Her work, both in the webinar and through the open letter, pushed against the encroachment of academic surveillance during the pandemic. This was just the start.

The last example I would like to share with you is the Teach-In Against Surveillance, which took place on December 1st, 2020. Brenna conceived of and organized this event, with the goal being to mobilize specialized knowledge for university faculty and learners. It was well-attended, with 339 people from around the world pitching in donations. Brenna led the day, introducing the event and its prestigious speakers, as well as conducting interviews. She also coordinated a team of technologists who worked to make an innovative event happen as smoothly and accessibly as possible. Leading scholars in the field of surveillance studies shared their knowledge: Maha Bali, Cory Doctorow, Benjamin Doxtdator, Chris Gilliard, sava saheli singh, Jesse Stommel, and Audrey Watters all taught that day. It was a huge success, with hundreds of educators and students gaining the expert knowledge they needed to decide whether academic surveillance had a place in teaching and learning.

I hope these examples are helpful to you as you make a decision about Brenna’s tenure. Thompson Rivers University benefits greatly from her work, which has reach and impact at an international level. She is a valued community member, contributing outstanding scholarship and service across disciplines. Her work is essential to many others in the practice of teaching and learning, and worthy of institutional support. Brenna’s leadership in the field of educational technology is widely recognized. Above all, she is a leader with profound integrity, guided by deep ethics. Brenna Clarke Gray deserves tenure.


Ian Linkletter