In 2020-2021 we interviewed literacy workers in Ontario about blended learning and the pivot to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The interview questions

Here are the people we spoke to:

I guess the thing that I'm most focused on with my students, is enabling them to achieve their goals while they're in the program. That is my primary focus. Whatever I need to do to help them do that, I will go out of my way to make it work. 

When I call you, and you haven't done your work or made any progress, I'm not going to judge you. I'm going to ask you one or two questions to determine how I can help you. Maybe we’ll have a laugh, and I’ll let you know that I'll check-in on you again in the future. 

Insights from Christoper:

Elisha Stuart

Program Coordinator

Brant Skills Centre

My superpower is multitasking. I've got a little a young toddler at home so I'm always trying to do stuff with him. But also, the job requires many tasks in the year at once.

I have a big passion for environmental things and green swaps and really taking care of our planet. But if we're talking professionally, I have a passion for always learning and knowing that we never know it all. So I'm always keen to learn the next new thing.

Insights from Elisha:

Evan J Hoskins

LBS practitioner and DOI2T manager

Sioux-Hudson Literacy Council


My superpower? Let's say empathy. For better or worse, I get labelled with the titles of "tech expert" and "tech lead." And it's not necessarily because I have an overt passion for tech, or that I even have an outspoken passion for it. I just want to help people, and tech literacy seems to be a common and blatant literacy gap.

I also have a passion for writing, specifically for poetry. This year saw me publish my first full-length poetry book, Ripping down half the trees, out now with McGill-Queen's University Press.

Insights from Evan:

Nanditta Colbear

Executive Director

Literacy Alliance of West Nipissing

My superpower is persuasion - that's how I get things done. I persuade people to achieve the results they wish to achieve. And that really is all it takes. You don't want to be doing everything all of the time. You want others to achieve their outcomes, and whether it be whether it be finance, legal or HR challenges, whether it be management challenges, whether it be board governance or learner outcomes, persuasion is a great, great, great superpower to have.

My passion is driving success—just looking at outcomes and results. That's always been my way of thinking. I don't like to do things for the sake of doing them. I never have and I never will. My life is too precious. My time on earth is only as much as my body will allow, and I don't want to waste my time doing meaningless things. I never, never did it that way. Not even as a teenager and I'm not going to start now. That's my passion, drive success with your results.

Insights from Nanditta:

Ryan Pike

Adult Literacy Instructor

Labour Education Centre

My superpower is empathy and the ability to intuit learner’s needs.

My passion is helping people to develop the basic skills (especially digital) and confidence they need to improve their lives, advocate for themselves, and achieve their goals. I am especially passionate about working with people who have faced systemic barriers to accessing the basic skills they need to improve their lives. 

Insights from Ryan:

Shelley Lynch

Adult Literacy Instructor, Essential Skills Upgrading

Toronto District School Board

I'm an adult literacy instructor for Essential Skills Upgrading, and I'm proud of our little school.

I'm not sure what my superpower is. I'm dedicated. I'm a hard worker. That's basic. 

I think my superpower is that my learners like me and trust me – and I’m lucky that comes naturally. Why? I’m patient, I love learning, and I never give up. I think there’s a solution to everything and I just have to find it / learn enough. I rose to the challenge of teaching online and got my best results ever. I will speak up and represent my learner’s needs, too.  

I think my patience because that is the biggest thing that my learners always thank me for. I don't really think about that—it’s just who I am. It's not that I don't get impatient because I can, but with my learners—with someone I'm helping—I have a lot of patience. And that leads to trust; they trust me. I can make mistakes, I can do things wrong, but they trust me. I'm developing the relationship with them, as adults, that's two way. Like my teacher when I was a kid, I trusted her—first adult I ever trusted. I think it's the same thing. That's what life is about: A relationship of trust and the ability to communicate, to have empathy, to give people what they need. 

One of the things I've loved about being on the computer is that I learn more. Every week, I learn more about what my students need because I see things differently. I see them in a different environment. That feeds my learning passion and then I can turn that around and help them. 

I've always loved learning. Coming out of my childhood I recognized that communication was key, and I needed to work on that—I needed to improve communication. I can't tell you how many courses and whatnot I've taken on communication over the years. I find this funny; I know listening is the most important thing, but it wasn't until I started teaching— and I was in my 50s—that I realized to help my learners I needed to listen to them, to learn who they were and what they needed and what was going on with them, etcetera. I needed to listen to them to learn. That was the best lesson ever. Not that all the courses weren’t good, but that made me realize that my highest value is not caring about people — I do care, but I think my highest value is learning so I became a better listener so I could learn. Becoming a teacher helped me become a better listener so that I could help them.

Everything I learnt about myself, helps me to help my learners more = I give back and I love that. 

As far as teaching, I'm very caring, patient, supportive, and positive. Those are the things my students always tell me they value. They know they can ask me the same question over and over and I'm always patient. I subscribe to the belief that if someone's not getting it, then I haven't successfully communicated yet, and I just have to find a different way. 

My style comes naturally to me and works well for me as students trust me, and some even tell me I’m the best teacher they’ve ever had. 

I'm also a bit of a perfectionist. I'm really good with detail. I'm very visual. I tell my students when they say something and I don't get it, that I have to see it. If I see something, it's easy for me.

Insights from Shelley:

Special Guests

Kamran Ahmadpour


I am currently the director of IT and Digital Transformation and have been working as an adult educator and IT support at PTP for 20 years. As an educator, I have been teaching computers to enhance students’ digital literacy skills to prepare them for employment and further education.  In addition to teaching, I have been integrating technology into the school program by embedding and implementing digital platforms such as learning management systems, cloud computing, mobile learning, and blended learning as well as tailoring new hardware and software programs to the needs of adult learners.

I participated in several digital learning projects and initiatives including the Programme for International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) field trial in 2013, the Mobile Adult Learning Apps pilot study with Athabasca university and George Brown college in 2018, and AlphaPlus practitioner advisory group.

I have a master’s degree in education and digital technology, a master’s degree in English language teaching, a college diploma in computer networking and technical support, and a professional development certificate in digital transformation. I co-published “Negotiating the Digital Maze of Information Literacy” in the Journal of Educational Informatics. I also develop and deliver communication courses based on Seneca College's Academic and Career Entrance (ACE) program.

Insight from Kamran