Research and Support

Amal Boultif, PhD

Assistant professor at the University of Ottawa, Amal Boultif specializes in French orthodidactics and teacher training. Her research focuses on innovative approaches in education that integrate multimodality, games, digital and popular cultures in various French-speaking teaching-learning contexts. She was a secondary French teacher for twenty years in Algeria. Her doctoral research focused on creative writing, slam workshops, and writing motivation.

Megan Cotnam-Kappel, PhD

Franco-Ontarian and Associate Professor specializing in Educational Technologies and Minority-Language Education, Megan Cotnam-Kappel is particularly excited to discover innovative teaching and learning practices that connect play with students’ languages, cultures and identities.

Phyllis Dalley, PhD

Built through the French and English languages, from l’Acadie to Alberta, Phyllis Dalley, PhD., has been committed for more than thirty years to a French-language education that places the enthusiasm for learning and teaching at the heart of an inclusive school culture. She wishes to explore, with the school staff, how the relational, the communicational and the cultural are played out in a playful learning pedagogy, especially when the linguistic skills of the pupils are varied. She is founding director of the Chantiers d’actions et de recherches en francophonies inclusives.

Michelle Schira Hagerman, PhD

Farmer’s-daughter-turned-teacher and educational researcher, Michelle Schira Hagerman is happiest when designing playful learning experiences for students. She delights in small moments of discovery and in the complexities of meaning making with texts, materials and tools, both digital and physical. She is Associate Professor of Educational Technologies in the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa.

Jess Whitley, PhD

A professor of Inclusive Education, Jess Whitley’s interest in learning through play comes from her passion for inclusion and accessibility. She believes that every child has the right to benefit from play. Children who often struggle to engage in schools can thrive through play, particularly as they approach middle school years, when play is often seen as a privilege. Whether learning through unstructured loose play on a school yard, risky play in a forest, or making instruments from recycled materials, learning through play is essential for some, and good for all.

Josée Lebel, BSc, BEd, MSC, PhD

Josée has over 25 years of teaching experience in schools, science centres and museums across Canada. In 2011, she founded Beyond the Blackboard Educational Consulting, which provides strategic and pedagogical development services to informal education organizations, fostering powerful links to provincial standards. During her doctoral studies, she studied issues related to exploratory dialogue in science classrooms in Francophone minority settings. She seeks to create the ideal conditions for students to take the risk of “talking science” and co-constructing knowledge together. She is very sensitive to the linguistic issues of the French-speaking minority environment.

Research Assistants

Nicolas Gourde

Nicolas is a Master’s student at the University of Ottawa. His research seeks to investigate the various mechanisms at play contributing to the (re)production or transformation of the cis-heteronormative physical/sporting culture(s) in physical education teacher education programs. Through this project, he hopes to provide a critical opportunity to expose the limits and regulatory aims of this gendered culture, but also bearing witness to subversive practices that disturb (and potentially transform) it. Outside of his studies, Nicolas is passionate about cooking, physical training and pottery. 

Alison Cattani-Nardelli

Alison Cattani-Nardelli is a graduate student from the University of Ottawa. She studied French literature and entrepreneurship before completing a Master of Arts in Education. As part of her thesis, she had the opportunity to study alternative pedagogies and their effects in a disadvantaged social context. For two years, she contributed to research projects on the Maker movement and digital equity in Ontario, led by Megan Cotnam-Kappel and Michelle Schira Hagerman, and participated in the writing of a guide on distance learning for students with special needs for the Ministry of Education of Ontario. 

A. Sajani Karunaweera

Graduate student from Sri Lanka, Sajani Karunaweera is deeply dedicated to the area of educational technologies and how digital tools can be used in critical, reflective, and accessible ways. Whether it is in the context of teaching, assessment or professional development, her work attempts to capture the use of technologies, not as a replacement for teaching, but as a tool for the discerning teacher. Her involvement in this network builds on her motivations to promote safe spaces for students to express, explore and expand their knowledge, albeit physically or digitally, through the power of play.

Gladys Ayson

A PhD candidate in the Experimental Psychology program at the University of Ottawa. Her research focuses on children’s cognitive development, specifically their developing understanding of the future. She also works for a non-profit organization that tutors new Canadian children on their English and financial literacy. Her passions include supporting new Canadian families, translating children’s research into accessible knowledge for families, and stemming change in the Canadian education system.

Béatrice Crettenand Pecorini

With her rich humanitarian experience and her atypical profile between health and education, Béatrice Crettenand Pecorini is currently carrying out her doctoral research on lifelong learning and formal and informal intergenerational learning using digital technology. She has participated in several research projects focusing, among other things, on the teaching-learning of French integrating multimodality and digital technology, mentoring and intergenerational learning, as well as on students with special educational needs. 

Sima Neisary

Sima Neisary is a Ph.D. candidate in the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa. The focus of her research is on digital inequalities, particularly for second language learners and newcomers. She seeks to amplify the voices of ESLs and newcomers and present educational opportunities to reduce digital inequalities for those who are at risk of being left behind.

Amanda May

Amanda advocates for marginalized students living under challenging circumstances. Currently living in rural Nova Scotia, Amanda is developing her PhD thesis exploring the application of land-based pedagogies through the healing power of nature. Amanda is a certified Forest Therapy Guide.  

CPSN Advisors

Anita Tenasco

Anita Tenasco is Anishinabe Algonquin from the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg (an Algonquin community located north of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada). Anita is an educator who firmly believes in First Nations control of First Nations education, in the urgent need to revitalize First Nations languages and in the value of play in and around schools.  Anita has served her community in a number of roles in education and in community services since 1994. As Anita is the child of a Residential School Survivor – she values engaging with non indigenous educators and schools so that a voice of the Anishinabe Algonquin Nation is presented to mainstream educators.

Awad Ibrahim

Awad Ibrahim is the Air Canada Professor in Anti-racism at the Faculty of Education, University of Ottawa. He is a Curriculum Theorist with special interest in anti-racism and social justice, youth culture, Hip-Hop, diasporic and continental African identities, and applied linguistics. His most recent books include, Nuances of Blackness in the Canadian academy: Teaching, learning, and researching while Black (2002, co-edited with Tamari Kitossa, Malinda Smith and Handel Wright) and Disruptive learning narrative framework: Analyzing race, power and privilege in post-secondary international service learning (2022, co-edited with Manu Sharma and Andrew Allen).

Project Leaders