Service Activities

I select service based on where I think I can be the most useful and, increasingly, when I can bring my expertise about educational technologies and particularly the ethical questions about them that often go unasked. This is true off-campus and on; on-campus, I also look for opportunities to represent faculty in Open Learning (specifically meaning TRUFA members in OL, not OLFMs) on University-wide committees, where I can make a difference as an advocate for this very small and often underrepresented faculty group.

My commitment to service at TRU has been consistently commented upon by collegial leadership in my APAR and PRC response letters:

APAR 2020 [C.2]: “You have taken on an incredible service role to both the department, institution and your larger professional communities.”

APAR 2021 [C.4]: “You have continued and expanded your already impressive service commitments.

APAR 2022 [C.6]: You have continued to maintain an outstanding service record at the departmental and institutional levels and beyond. […] Your external service is largely focused on what you term collective activism. These contributions are grounded in your belief in and advocacy for the ethical use of technologies. This is critical work whose reach extends far beyond TRU and is extremely important to our students and our profession.

PRC [D.7.2]: “Brenna has made significant contributions to the profession and TRU in her relatively brief time as an educational technologist.

It is my pleasure to share the details of my commitment to service within the institution and the profession, and beyond those bounds. Because this application is for both tenure and promotion, I have highlighted in peach those activities I see as demonstrating significant contributions at TRU or in a local/regional context, or in the words of the Standards document, “A candidate for tenure who was initially appointed as an Assistant Professor or Instructional Support I must have established a satisfactory record of service that involves institutional, disciplinary, professional and/or community service. In addition to consistent evidence of such service, a candidate must demonstrate professional growth and the promise of future development in service. Academic, community, disciplinary and/or professional service is expected to include contributions at a local/regional/provincial level.”

Likewise, I have highlighted in blue the activities that I see as demonstrating an expanding sphere of influence nationally, or in the words of the Standards document, “A candidate for Associate Professor or Instructional Support II must provide evidence of a strong, consistent record of service to the University, discipline and/or profession, and, when applicable, to the community at large. In evaluating service, peers will consider the quantity and the quality of the candidate’s activities, effort, leadership, and the value or importance of the service contributions. Academic, community, disciplinary and/or professional service is expected to include contributions at a national level.”

Meaningful participation in, contribution to, or leadership of the Department, which may include committees, special projects, or other initiatives.

Leadership of the Learning Technology & Innovation Campus Support Team (September 2019-present)

Since arriving at TRU, I have taken a leadership role in the Learning Technology and Innovation team. I believe the Faculty Coordinator has a responsibility to set the working environment of the unit and establish processes that work for everyone on the team. Among the responsibilities I have undertaken:

  • Calling and running team meetings, and following-up on necessary action items.
  • Organizing a workflow for pitching and planning workshops and for developing and executing promotional materials.
  • Scheduling programming and office hours.
  • Coordinating a revision to the visual signature of the promotional materials for the department, which had been very masculine-coded and didn’t reflect the kind of friendly, open approach to technology I felt was needed. Nicole Singular’s designs for the department reflect a much more inclusive approach to learning technology, and signal a necessary playfulness [E.2.1].
  • Coordinating with Marketing and Communication (and in this capacity, I was part of the TRU Connect pilot project and gave feedback on its roll-out).
  • Writing much of the public-facing communication from the unit.

As the unit has grown during and since the remote period, and particularly since Jamie Drozda moved into a tenure-track faculty role, this leadership is more equally shared among the faculty coordinators, but I do believe I continue to drive the support team from an organizational perspective.

Department Tenure and Promotion Standards Working Group, Member (November 2019-May 2021)

Five members of the department worked as a subcommittee to revise the tenure and promotion standards, and I am now the second person to apply for tenure and promotion using these standards. On this committee, in addition to being an active participant in the drafting and editing of revisions, I took the lead on composing the equity language for the revised standards [E.2.2].

Meaningful participation in, contribution to, or leadership of Divisional, University and Faculty Association committees.

Senate Committee of Teaching and Learning, Member (April 2022-present)

I am new to this committee, having joined in April as the instructional support representative. I have wanted to join this committee since I had the opportunity to present my student survey to them during the remote teaching period, because I was grateful for a space focused on what I see as the key topic of the university. I look forward to serving.

Integrated Strategic Planning Steering Committee, OL Lead (June 2021-present)

On this committee, I took the lead in preparing the Open Learning submissions. This involved organizing the working group, taking detailed notes, soliciting and synthesizing the feedback from OL as a whole, and uploading the final draft of OL’s submission, which runs to fifteen pages [E.2.3]. The final version of the report we saw did not appear to include much of OL’s submissions, and so we requested a meeting in June 2022 with those responsible for the report. They assured us that our submission was received, but I expect there will be more follow-up required. I am very committed to seeing OL well-represented in the ISP process and look forward to continuing this work.

Senate Steering Committee, Member (February 2021-present)

On this committee, in addition to being an active participant in placing members of the TRU community on senate committees, I helped to re-draft the exit survey given to all senate committee members after completion of a term. We are in the process of establishing how best to implement that survey now.

Academic Computing and Technology Advisory Committee, Chair (October 2019-present) 

I joined this committee to ensure I had a sense of where faculty felt underserved by educational technologies, but I was volunteered into the Chair role at my first meeting and have served in that capacity ever since. On this committee, I organize the agenda and communicate between the leadership stakeholders who attend, including the CIO and on occasion the Provost. I also report to ACTAC on behalf of the faculty support group. This year I organized two special meetings: one to collect faculty questions and ask administration for details about the Return to Campus plan [E.2.4], and one to advise ITS about how to spend Return to Campus funding. With the recent loss of administrative support for this committee, I also schedule meetings, take the minutes, and distribute necessary documentation. I will be ending my time as Chair in Fall 2022.

Open Education Working Group, Vice-Chair (July 2021-present, incoming Chair, member since 2019)

I joined this working group in June 2020 in order to be more informed about what OER projects are underway at TRU but have since taken on a leadership role. On this working group, I take the minutes and organize the notes, as well as helping with scheduling. I have also done extensive outreach and meeting with TRUSU to discuss ways to best get students involved in the OEWG. This year, the OEWG has undertaken a report to the Provost on the Future of Open Education at TRU; on that project, I have done the majority of external stakeholder communications, drafted and distributed the faculty and student surveys, taken detailed notes in interviews, and co-authored the draft final report [E.2.5]. As of our first meeting in Fall 2022, I will be Chair of this working group.

Data Stewardship and Analytics for Learning and Teaching Task Force, Member (November 2020-present) 

On this committee, I am an active participant and try to offer context for how technologies are implemented and used at TRU so that we have a realistic framework for our discussions.

EnvisionTRU Working Group (14 November 2019)

In addition to the consultation I attended on my first day of work, I was invited to a session in order to contribute to the drafting of the university vision statement. This half-day workshop was actually a really positive experience and helped me get to know our institutional values.

Participation in, contribution to, or leadership in Departmental or Divisional administration.

Learning Technology Group, Member (September 2019-present)

Because of how governance is organized, OL faculty do not yet have a divisional administration; I consider the liaison work between service units of the LTG meetings – especially through the remote teaching period – to be equivalent in significance. On this committee, I am an active participant and, alongside Jamie Drozda, am present to offer support-side feedback and requests to our system administrators and our colleagues in IT Services.

Contributions to the intellectual and cultural life of the campus.

Teaching Practices Colloquium and Open Education Week

Because outreach is a critical component of faculty support work, I try to maintain a strong presence at both the Teaching Practices Colloquium and Open Education Week, both to support and encourage these events and to connect with the campus community about the unit’s work and my research and writing. I also support these events by producing special episodes of You Got This! that promote them, including inviting my colleagues to share audio teasers of their TPC papers.

Sessions at TPC, 2020-2022:

  1. 2020: “Blogging Through Failure: Public Accountability and Personal Growth.”
  2. 2020: Poster session advertising LT&I support offerings, also presented during PD Week, with Jamie Drozda.
  3. 2020: Group presentation with the CRICKET team about CELT’s course redesign resource.
  4. 2021: “Ethics, EdTech, and the Rise of Contract Cheating.”
  5. 2021: “The University Cannot Love You: Gendered Labour, Burnout, and the Covid-19 Pivot to Digital”
  6. 2022: Group presentation with the OEWG to introduce the Open Education Communities of Practice.
  7. 2022: “Procurement as Praxis: Reconsidering Acquisition from an Ethic of Care Perspective.”

Sessions at OpenEd Week, 2020-2022:

  1. 2020: “Are We the Product: Online Learning and Our Personal Information” (co-presented with Brian Lamb).
  2. 2020: “More Than Free: How Open Education Supports Learning.”
  3. 2022: “Are We the Product Redux: Notes from the Future” (co-presented with Brian Lamb).
  4. 2022: Faculty and student focus group sessions with Ken Monroe.
  5. 2022: “Open Approaches to Knowledge Mobilization: Podcasting, Blogging, and Online Research Communities.”
  6. 2022: UCalgary/TRU Lightning Talks. “Lessons Learned on Our Test Drive: Iterative Development of WordPress ePortfolios” (co-presented with Jamie Drozda).

VitalSource Critique (February 2021)

It is the role of the faculty educational technologist, I believe, to frame the ethical discussions around the use of technology within the institution. It is for this reason that I, with Carolyn Ives, wrote an open letter to share with faculty about the problems with the VitalSource inclusive access textbook program [E.2.6]. I was heartened to see the points from our letter become a significant part of the campus resistance to the program and was delighted to see it put to bed (for now). I remain earnestly interested in the lived experience of ethics and edtech on our campus, including in our procurement processes.

Data Privacy Day (28 January 2020)

I organized a tabling session in the Old Main concourse with Stephanie Tate, then-Learning Strategist for Academic Integrity, to talk to students about how academic integrity relates to data privacy practice, and I worked with OL designer Nicole Singular to create handouts, digital signage, and posters for the event. We quizzed students, offered prizes, and had conversations with 65 students about these issues over a three-hour period. We also distributed information on these issues via Student Services.

Contributions to professional or learned societies through participation in local, provincial, national, and international organizations and programs related to the faculty member’s discipline.

Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, Committee on Academic Integrity and Contract Cheating, Member (June 2021-present)

This committee met for the first time in June, and I am eager to undertake work to address contract cheating in Canada. So far our work has been to determine the goals of the participants and prioritize the work to be undertaken. I am most interested in advancing an ethical approach (eg. resisting surveillance tools, etc) and strategies to influence the procurement of technologies in promoting this work.

MidYear Festival Organizing Committee, Member (February 2021-present)

I was part of the organizational committee for this ground-breaking international teaching and learning professional development opportunity that took place over June, July, and August 2022. In this role, I helped to determine logistics and to plan the list of events. I also presented two sessions for the Festival. Our work was the subject of a write-up in Inside Higher Education. I will continue on in an organizational capacity for as long as the festival continues to run.

Anti-Surveillance Activism (March 2020-present)

After reading Shea Swauger’s “Our Bodies Encoded,” about the harms of surveillance technologies on students, I became active in denouncing these tools and educating faculty about alternatives. For example, when Ian Linkletter was sued by Proctorio, I wrote an open letter inviting signatories from around the world to denounce the lawsuit and support Ian [E.2.7]. The impact of the letter was noticed by VoxMedia publication The Verge, who wrote, “since the beginning of September when the lawsuit was first filed, hundreds 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.”

Choosing to write this letter was scary: Proctorio is a huge and obviously litigious company, but I was also a relatively new faculty member at TRU and did not really know how my activism would be received. But ultimately, I came to recognize that the purpose of academic freedom is to use it in defence of the values and ethics one believes in; I have tried to live my ethics in all of my interactions with the community.

In his letter in support of this application [D.8.4], Ian Linkletter writes,

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. […] 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.

I have continued this activism in social media and in community organizing, and I discuss the global Teach-In #Against Surveillance I designed and executed in more detail in my Overview of Professional Duties [D.3]. But I believe that working in educational technologies – with its massive budgets and huge profits – demands a strong ethical compass. I am grateful to be employed somewhere where I am given space to follow it.

Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English, Board Member (Colleges) and Douglas College Representative (September 2010-June 2019)

I represented Douglas College at ACCUTE from 2010-19 and served on the Board from 2015-18. In this role, I advocated for the specific needs of literary researchers and teachers working at colleges in Canada, and I also vetted conference proposals for the annual meeting. After leaving the board and since arriving at TRU, in 2020 I consulted with the Board on two issues: first, their response to anti-Black racism in the Canadian academy; and second, their decision to cancel the annual conference. In the former, I reviewed the President’s letter and advised a more explicit statement about anti-Black racism; in the second, I advised ACCUTE to cancel their 2020 meeting rather than moving the conference online due to the significant issues of equity and access that they could not overcome.

Canadian Association of Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies, Executive Member (BC Representative) (May 2013-May 2018)

I served on the Executive of CACLALS (now CAPS) as a representative for British Columbia; in this role, I helped to organize the annual meetings and I vetted conference proposals for our conference at Congress.

Contributions in a professional capacity to the community at large and to cultural, community, and service organizations.

BC and Yukon Book Awards, Adjudicator

I served as adjudicator for the 2021 BC and Yukon Book Awards in the Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize category. I had the pleasure of reading thirty-six new books for children and young adults and attending a series of meetings to pick the winner.

Vancouver Humane Society (December 2021 – February 2022)

I reviewed the online courses the VHS created in order to move their training materials online and also trained the course facilitator to build H5P branching scenarios to offer some interactivity. This was a paid consultancy, but I donated my fee back to the VHS.

Academic and professional mentorship.

GO-GN Mentor (June 2021-present)

I have recently registered and been approved as mentor for the Global OER Graduate Network, specifically offering mentorship in podcasting projects and ethical edtech work. I look forward to the opportunity to serve in this capacity.

Peer Reviews

During the emergency remote teaching period from March 2020 – August 2021, I mentored many faculty in the development of their Moodle spaces. I did formal peer reviews of these spaces for Manu Sharma, Rochelle Stevenson, and Shannon Smyrl [E.2.8].

As I look to the future of my role, I intend to seek more national and international service opportunities; I would particularly like to serve in an organizational capacity for the OpenEd international open education conference. Internally, as I leave my role as Chair of ACTAC this year, I will be looking for new opportunities to connect with faculty to hear about their educational technology needs and to understand where they are feeling underserved.