Waterloo receives recognition with QS Reimagine Education Awards

Co-operative and Experiential Education and WatSPEED earn gold and silver awards for their innovative approach to student learning and employability 

By Namish Modi Co-operative and Experiential Education

Two University of Waterloo departments earned recognition on the international stage last week in the United Arab Emirates.  

Both Co-operative and Experiential Education (CEE) and WatSPEED earned honours at the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) Reimagine Education Conference Awards held in Abu Dhabi at Khalifa University.  

Known as the "Oscars of education", the awards recognize innovative approaches that enhance student learning outcomes and employability.  Award categories include the future of learning, future of universities, future of work and sustainability education.   

CEE earned gold in The Power of Partnerships Award category for its submission: Partners for Prosperity, future-proofing today’s learners for tomorrow’s workforce. WatSPEED earned silver for the Best Use of Generative AI for the simulated clinical training in the Management of Oral Anticoagulation Therapy (MOAT) professional education program. 

Anne-Marie Fannon, director of Waterloo’s Work Learn Institute and Carolyn Lee, educational developer, accepted the award on behalf of CEE while Marie Lippens, associate director of products, accepted on behalf of WatSPEED.   

Gold award for The Power of Partnerships   

According to Reimagine Education, the Power of Partnerships award is "awarded to the company or institution that has leveraged the power of partnership to innovate, scale, or improve their offering and enhance the learner’s experience outcomes."  CEE’s award submission highlighted the department’s ability to ensure academic integration between students’ work experiences and the classroom. It also called out the unit’s vast network of employers and the collaboration between CEE and industry partners.  

"We are incredibly proud that CEE has been recognized among our peers on a global stage with this gold award," says Norah McRae, associate provost of CEE. "The important work we do would not be possible without our outstanding industry partners. Their collaboration is vital and they are deserving of this recognition."   

The collaboration provides innovative, quality opportunities to ensure we empower learners for the future of work and lifelong learning. CEE created a video highlighting the outstanding partnership Waterloo facilitates with academia and industry as part of the award submission.   

Silver award for The Best Use of Generative AI  

 The Best Use of Generative AI award is based on the successful implementation of "generative AI to create or improve educational tools, platforms, or systems," to transform various aspects of education and enhance engagement among learners. 

"With the immense rise of generative AI in our work and daily lives, we are honoured that WatSPEED’s use of this technology in education has been recognized by QS," says Sanjeev Gill, associate vice-president, innovation and executive director of WatSPEED. "We’re thrilled to celebrate this accomplishment and that of our colleagues in CEE and we look forward to continuing to build on our institution’s strengths to help support a future-proof workforce." 

WatSPEED’s submission outlined how its MOAT program, developed in partnership with the University’s School of Pharmacy, uses generative AI to enable learners to interact with a simulated roster of patients needing treatment.  

Designed for pharmacists, registered nurses, and nurse practitioners who aspire to manage oral anticoagulation therapy under a medical directive, the simulations enable learners to consult with a diverse range of AI-based patients with different clinical attributes. Learners receive feedback on the information they gather - including factors that might be critical to patient health - and determine treatment plans accordingly. 

WatSPEED also created a video demonstrating how the clinical simulations work. 

Waterloo’s submissions from CEE and WatSPEED stood out among the 1,200 submissions across the 17 categories. More than 600 international experts evaluated the submissions. In 2022, CEE was awarded silver for the Sustainability Education Award at the Reimagine Awards.