Innovative practice is part of who I am, but what does that mean exactly? The most memorable definition is simply “creativity in action.” There are many types and sources of innovation that inform practice.

#Innovation is about taking risks, being creative, seeking feedback, failing, and most importantly knowing when to pivot. It is important to be supported as a faculty member living through this journey.

Laura Killam


In my practice, creative ideas are often the result of reflecting on what I have observed. Through reading literature, watching others teach, Twitter, and informal discussions I am able to combine strategies and design new ways to approach problems. Innovative thinking seems to come instinctively to me but is often the combination of being surrounded by others with a commitment to sound pedagogical practices.


When designing an in-class experience it is best to start in ways that have the least impact on student grades then scale up based on feedback about what works. In that way, experimentation is safe for students. For example, gamification has evolved in my classes from a small set of badges to an integrated part of the course design over several terms.


Innovation requires experimentation, which means it is destined to fail at some point(s). Failure is fantastic when I learn from it. In order to learn about what works and what does not work, I collect as much data from students as possible. In the beginning, much of the data is anecdotal or observational. Validated measures are used both in quality assurance measures and formal research studies.


Pivoting is what happens when we change our direction. Knowing when to pivot is essential to effective innovation. For example, in one of my first year classes I was trying to do too much active learning at an application level. Based on student feedback and classroom observations I noticed that I needed to change my approach and do more scaffolded learning (Click here for the related blog post).

Current Expertise

I am prepared to engage in evidence and experience informed discussion of the following strategies that I have explored. The date in brackets is an approximation of when I began exploring these strategies (organized from most recent to most refined). Most are still in use and being evaluated on an ongoing basis. The applicability of innovative teaching strategies depends on the context. Thus, in any given term they may or may not be currently in use based on an assessment of the teaching and learning needs of current cohorts. My expertise in these areas is constantly evolving as I continue to experiment with their use. I am happy to present on any of these topics by request.

  • Virtual online simulation co-creation with an entire class (2021)
  • Neaarpod (2020)
  • Open book open web exams (2019-present)
  • PeerWise (2019)
  • Mentimeter (2019)
  • H5P branching logic, flashcards, timelines and more (2019)
  • Virtual online simulation development (2018)
  • Negotiated grading (2018)
  • Syndicated student blogs (2018)
  • Open education (2017)
  • H5P interactive video (2017)
  • Gamification (2017)
  • Collaborative in-class essay writing using Google Docs (2013)
  • Video production and use (2010)
  • Flipped classrooms (2010)


Below are some tools I consistently use:

  • Google Slides, Docs and Forums (through Google school accounts)
  • Liberating structures
  • YouTube
  • The mail merge feature in Microsoft Office

Abandoned Practices

Knowing when to stop doing something is an important part of growth. As a result of ongoing professional development I have abandond the following practices because they do not work in my context. If you would like to discuss why I do not use these strategies please contact me.

  • Lecture only. While I do lecture I use strategies to promote active engagement. Never again will I stand in front of an audience for an hour just talking.
  • Facebook. Although I have published on the usefulness of Facebook for education, my recent exposure to discussions with eCampusOntario and open education colleagues has me seriously concerned about data privacy issues. Also, I have grown to dislike the platform so it is more difficult for me to monitor student discussions on it. If students request using it for a class, however, I would. I am just not going to recommend or require it.


Here are some things I want to try when the time is right.

Peer-review software.

Feedback Fruits or PeerScholar or something similar. I need a tool to help me manage peer review of student work in large classes. Currently, we are investigating these tools. I hope to try one of them soon.


I was on Simon Bates’ website and I noticed that under current projects he is using PeerWise. This tool facilitates student generation of multiple choice questions. Here is a 90-second video about it. It is free to use. I think I may be a good way to get students to study for the NCLEX. I don’t know what course it would fit best in, but students could be assigned to use the NCLEX test map to generate questions. PeerWise recommends 2 to 3 questions per term. Knowing Simon, if he uses it the tool it is likely to pass institutional data privacy scrutiny.


Twitter in the classroom. I have had some small engagement, but it is not yet integrated into a course. Soon I am teaching a course on nursing informatics and may be able to engage the students there.

Virtual reality.

I have done some virtual reality exploration but not enough to put it on my list of proficient explorations. The concern I have is around scaling this practice.