Leaders in Education and Technology: Cheryl Ward

Image courtesy of the Patient Safety Council of British Columbia

Special Acknowledgement: As a Metis student of education research, I would like to acknowledge my fellow indigenous peoples. Also, to the right of Cheryl Ward, imaged above, is my father-in-law Dr. Doug Cochrane, former chair of the B.C. Patient Safety and Quality Council.

Cheryl Ward, an Executive Director at the Provincial Health Services Authority of B.C., is an advocate for social justice, equity, and indigenous patient safety within the B.C. health care system. She is primarily concerned with improving care for indigenous people, informing cultural safety in provincial and regional health authorities, and addressing stereotyping and discrimination in the B.C. health care system. Holding a doctorate in education from Simon Fraser University, Ward’s research on anti-racist pedagogy (e.g. Ward’s Ed.D thesis (Ward, 2018)) has contributed to the conceptualization and development of a program called San’yas.

San’yas is an online program that educates health care professionals on equity, cultural safety, and high-quality health care practices for indigenous people (Provincial Health, 2020). The curriculum incorporates historical information, current research, and Indigenous perspectives to effectively combat systemic racism and stereotyping in the health care setting. Coursework is delivered through a basic learning management system, which incorporates text, interactive multimedia, and discussion forums to facilitate learning (Provincial Health, 2020). For a quick video overview on the San’yas course design, go here. The program is predominately learner-centered, encouraging learners to acquire knowledge through self-reflection, in addition to multimedia content delivery. Reaching over 30,000 people nationwide, San’yas has experienced significant success and growth, including curriculum adaption to other contexts such as child welfare, public sector, justice, and mental health, earning Ward the Leadership in Quality Award in 2017 (BC Patient Safety, 2020).

To me, Ward’s contribution to the field of education and technology (ed  tech) is thus: the success of the San’yas program demonstrates that online learning does not need to incorporate advanced, cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence and analytics to be effective or adoptable; rather, it’s about innovating effective learner-centered experiences through strong pedagogical design and technologies that operate to facilitate learning. Ward’s San’yas program serves as a case study and reminder to focus on the end goal: learning.

In sum, Ward’s contributions to the field arguably support the notion that there is no “technological utopia” (Weller. p.175); meaning, technology alone will likely not solve the problems within the education industry, for we need to view such solutions from the pedagogical perspective and then branch out to ed tech accordingly.



BC Patient Safety & Quality Council. Quality awards – Cheryl Ward. Retrieved September 15, 2020, from https://bcpsqc.ca/quality-awards/winners/cheryl-ward/

Provincial Health Services Authority in BC. San’yas indigenous cultural safety training. Retrieved September 12, 2020, from http://www.sanyas.ca/home

Ward, C. (2018). Teaching about race and racism in the classroom: managing the indigenous elephant in the room. Simon Fraser University. https://summit.sfu.ca/item/18705

Weller, M. (2020). 25 Years of Ed Tech. Athabasca University Press. https://doi.org/10.15215/aupress/9781771993050.01

Image Credit: https://bcpsqc.ca/blog/catching-up-with-the-2017-quality-award-winners/

4 thoughts on “Leaders in Education and Technology: Cheryl Ward

  1. Great individual and work showcased, thank you, Jonathan. The work of cultural competencies is a part of the curriculum we teach and expect students to discuss the learning in these matters, each time they go out in the work term. Our group at UVic does have a great LE, NONET Experiential Learning Coordinator and will ask them about incorporating more on the Indigenous Cultural Competencies to be added more to our workshops and staff training.

    1. Thanks for you feedback, Ash. It is great to hear the University of Victoria is supportive and open to expanding the Indigenous cultural competencies of faculty and staff. This supports the notion that programs such as San’yas are highly transferable to other fields/sectors. Great to hear!

  2. Jonathan, this summation for Cheryl Ward covers nicely her accomplishments. Excellent find for the assignment “People in the field”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *