Innovative Learning Centre

Purposefully and meaningfully re-imagining the future of education together.

Our Vision

Human beings are meaning-makers — adapting, changing, and building understandings through knowledge-making discourses.

The Innovative Learning Centre (ILC) brings students, educators, and community members together from across disciplines and interests to co-create learning experiences invested in this elemental and formative nature of knowledge. Thus, innovation is not characterized as a distinct quality in self, others, and situations that is rare and special but, instead, turns to innovation’s roots of innovare, to renew, for insights into its elemental and catalytic roles within teaching/learning experiences of all kinds.

Multiple opportunities to revisit understandings through varied traditions, perspectives, and methodologies are understood as key to enlarging and deepening thinking. Documenting and analyzing the lived individual/collective curricular, programmatic, contextual, and ethical consequences for students, educators, and communities, articulating the innovative significances and implications for learners and learning, forms the ongoing tasks of the ILC.


In alignment with UBC Strategic Plan (2019), Shaping UBC’s Next Century, three themes of inclusion, collaboration and innovation represent key opportunities for transformational change:

  • To design and develop inclusive places-spaces for exploration, creation, and experiential innovations focusing on pedagogical excellence.
  • To foster collaborative possibilities for innovative connections across practitioners and researchers.
  • To further innovative scholarship, research and community engagement locally, provincially, nationally, and globally.

On-going Projects

Innovative, Collaborative, Inclusive Programming: Okanagan School of Education (OSE), Faculty of Education, UBC

The OSE is comprised of the undergraduate, professional development, summer institute, and graduate programs of study. A shared conception forming the heart of all our programs is an educator identity characterized by the notion of a scholar-practitionerWe understand a scholar-practitioner to be a student of learning — always renewing understandings. Thus, investing in the formative nature of professional knowledge is an educator’s task throughout all phases of one’s career. Our programs of study deliberately foster many opportunities for theory/practice intersections articulating:

  • Needed curricular conditions, supports, and student and educator sensibilities.
  • Exemplars, making visible the entrusting of learning to educators and their students as generative springboards for others to gain access to possibilities for the particulars of their contexts.
  • Shared language to articulate the learner/learning intents for all involved.
  • Research and scholarly activities documenting, disseminating, and mobilizing the long-term significances.

Innovative Collaborations: The Small Secondary School Think Tank

The Small Secondary School Think Tank was created in 2013 as a result of the Rural Education Advisory expressing a need for an annual event where educators from across the province could come together in an effort to share ideas and collaborate on the unique challenges faced by small schools in British Columbia.

The Think Tank, hosted by the Okanagan School of Education, takes place in the Innovative Learning Centre (ILC) Learning Lab, located in the Engineering, Management and Education (EME 1123) Building on UBC’s Okanagan campus annually.

Each year one case study school is chosen. During the two-day think tank, educators discuss the case school and the unique challenges faced by the school community. Educators also participate in a Design Challenge. This is a process where educators creatively identify problems, and then solutions, using design thinking, a philosophy supported by the ILC.

Review the most recent case studies below.

Located on the traditional territory of the St’at’imc peoples and Lillooet Secondary School serves the communities of Zwisten, Sekw’el’was, Xaxli’p, Ts’kw’aylaxw, Tsal’ath, T’it’q’et and Lillooet.

There are 210 students between Grades 8 and 12, with 67 per cent declaring Indigenous ancestry.

A 2016 survey of Indigenous learners showed:

  • Lack of connection to adults in school
  • Lack of belonging in the school of community
  • Experiencing racism
  • Feelings that racism was going unaddressed by staff
  • Feelings of inequity in the way the school served students

From there the school embarked on an action plan for learning to creative a culturally safe space for all learners.


Lillooet Think Tank Presentation

Pemberton Secondary School (PSS) is located in Pemberton BC. The total population is approximately 5,000, which includes the town of Pemberton, the rural outlying areas, and Mt Currie. Pemberton is located 30 minutes north of Whistler, BC.

Pemberton Secondary School is a diverse and unique school comprised of 40 per cent Aboriginal students (non-status First Nations, Metis and Stl’atl’imx Nation – N’Quatqua, Lil’wat, Samahquam, Skatin, and Xa’xtsa7 Bands). It has an active student population, students with diverse artistic interests, a growing international program, children of long-time Pemberton residents, and students that are new to the area. Specialized programs currently offered at PSS are:

  • Outdoor Education Program for Grade 10
  • Ski, Snowboard & Bike Academy (SBBA) for Grades 11 and 12
  • French immersion Grades 8 – 12
  • Ucwalmicwts Language Program

Watch the Small School Think Tank Video


Osoyoos Secondary School is a rural high school in the South Okanagan Similkameen School District #53. The population is approximately 200 students, Grades 8 – 12. Approximately 20 per cent of the population is of Indo-Canadian ancestry and 10 per cent is of First Nations ancestory, with all of their First Nations students coming from homes that are off reserve.

Osoyoos Secondary has a very positive school culture characterized by strong relationships between teachers and parents support and has strong connections to the community. A significant number of O.S.S. graduates return to Osoyoos to live, work, raise families, and send their children to school in here.

Declining enrolment made it challenging for the school to offer a strong complement of elective courses to students. Over time, students in the Grad Programs had fewer options to choose from and thus had little ability to create a Grade 10 – 12 graduation plan that was personalized to their needs and goals. At the end of the 2014/15 school year staff agreed to enter into a process of exploration and research in order to find ways to increase choice for students.

By 2016/17, staff, parents, and students moved that Osoyoos Secondary adopt a Flexible Schedule learning model.


News: UBC’s annual Think Tank supports a bright future for Osoyoos Secondary School

Osoyoos Secondary PowerPoint Presentation: Flexible Schedule Timetable

Desert Sands Community School (DSCS) is in its first year as a Kindergarten to Grade 12 school in Ashcraft, BC, a rural community in the heart of the Gold Trail School District #74.

In 2016, students and staff from Ashcroft Secondary School joined forces with those from Ashcroft Elementary School to create a new learning community for 265 students, as well as to share space with the children who attend Strong Start and Early learning programs.

Watch the Small School Think Tank Video


Desert Sands Community School Case Study

News: UBC works with small schools to tackle big problems

Sequence of Activities

Growing Innovations Slideshow

Innovative Engagement: Building Academic Retention Through K-9s (B.A.R.K.)

Run by Okanagan School of Education Professor, John-Tyler Binfet, B.A.R.K brings together university students, trained therapy dogs and handlers in an effort to reduce stress, combat homesickness, foster interpersonal connections, and promote the overall social-emotional well-being of students.

Throughout the academic year, B.A.R.K offers sessions at the Library, in the Engineering, Management and Education Building, Fipke Building and VEDA Exclusive Student Living. You can find the dates and times of their sessions on their website.