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13th Annual May UnConference (May 24 - 27, 2022) - we're going hybrid!

Registration is now closed.

Pitches have been pitched, votes have been voted, and from the seeds planted by oCUBErs inquiring brains, a program has sprouted! This is our first fully hybrid UnConference! We can't promise that there won't be technical glitches etc. (who hasn't experienced tech issues while teaching?!?!), but we'll all be in good company!

Check your email for your registration package, including Zoom and Padlet link(s). 




10:00 - 10:50 am ET Practical strategies for managing the hidden work in teaching

The last two years seemingly have increased hidden work for instructors (e.g., managing accommodations, extensions, offering multiple methods of instruction/assessment, dealing with larger volumes of student email, messages). In this discussion, we’ll compile all the methods we have to lighten/streamline/prevent this unnecessary workload, while still ensuring accessibility and accommodations.

11:30 am - 12:20 pm ET EDI - how do we do it and how do we measure it?

We’re aware of many structures/policies in our courses that reduce accessibility, may reinforce gender gaps, or lack inclusivity. What EDI initiatives have oCUBErs developed or used? We aim to collect real, practical (i.e., not workload heavy) strategies to help us make first (and further!) steps towards improving our courses/instruction. As well, how do you know these are successful? And finally, turning this lens on ourselves, what are our current EDI gaps as an organization? What can we do to support and engage members of equity-deserving groups?

1:30 - 2:20 pm ET How to facilitate effective group work

How can we help to facilitate effective group work (e.g., team charters), such that all members of a team are participating? What can we do when group members are not pulling their own weight on group assignments? Does everyone in a group have to receive the same grade or can it differ depending on their contributions?

3:00 - 3:15 pm ET Incorporating sustainable flexibility into large courses

For the past two years, I’ve been incorporating flexible grading schemes into all of my classes. Students ‘choose-their-own-adventure’ grading scheme and I use their grading choices to finalize their grades. I think I’ve found a somewhat sustainable way to do this. I want to share what I’ve learned and also hear and learn from what everyone else in this amazing community has been doing to support flexible and inclusive learning in large classes!

3:15 - 3:30 pm ET  How can we distribute student workload throughout the term...especially when it's only 6 weeks?

How can we better distribute student workloads, especially in summer courses that have shorter terms? Let’s discuss how we might best design course deliverables for compressed course formats (e.g. 6 weeks over the summer) so as to ensure a balanced and manageable workload for students.


10:00 - 10:50 am ET Ungrading

This session is inspired by Susan D. Blum’s book ‘Ungrading: Why Rating Students Undermines Learning (and What to do Instead)’. This session will seek participants’ ideas on why we grade, what we want our grades to reflect, and potential benefits and drawbacks of assigning grades. We can also discuss the challenges of implementing upgrading practices and consider creative solutions to overcome these challenges to incorporate some form of upgrading into our courses. As the core of our stance on ungrading, are we trying to address reliability or bias?

11:30 am - 12:20  pm ET  Post-pandemic student work habit development

During the pandemic, many students have benefitted from more widespread kindness, UDL strategies, etc., and this has been overwhelmingly positive for students. Indeed, many oCUBErs were probably doing this pre-pandemic. Now that we’re returning to a “normal”, what do we do about situations where some students need extensions for everything or miss key events/assignments, to the point where the integrity of the course (and the learning) is compromised? Is there a way to bring those students back on track without disadvantaging them or breaking the health of their instructor(s)?

1:30 - 2:20 pm ET  How can I help you? Intentionally developing skills in our courses

As an extension from previous oCUBE sessions that have addressed the importance of skills-training development, this session would focus on pragmatic issues surrounding the implementation of specific skills-based interventions. Drawing on the repository of resources at, this session would seek participants’ input on how to embed and measure the efficacy of skills-training interventions into the curriculum.

3:00 - 3:15 pm ET  In-person vs. virtual labs: quality, purpose, and student perspectives

Returning to in-person labs in conjunction with an ever-growing space crisis in our teaching labs, has pushed Faculties to consider keeping some virtual labs to free up lab space. Are virtual labs equivalent to in-person? Should we push back against this trend? If we have to use virtual labs, how effective can we be?

3:15 - 3:30 pm ET  Using worksheets as an active learning tool

Research by Weir et al. (2019) suggests that use of worksheets, a low-tech in-class activity, is a high-yield strategy for enhancing student learning. Let’s discuss strategies on how to use worksheets most effectively!


10:00 - 10:30 am/11:00 - 11:30 am ET  Fix My Sh%#!

This perennial oCUBE favourite (nearly a decade!) is back! Fix My Sh%#! is an opportunity to crowdsource solutions to your teaching/learning/etc. problems from the awesome minds of fellow oCUBErs. Over the course of UnConference, submit your "sh%#!" to the padlet link in the registration email.

Water image by Daniel Sinoca, UnSplash.

March/April 2022

For the first time, the May UnConference will officially be hybrid! We had interest in both online and in-person attendance, so we're offering both options so that everyone interested will have the opportunity to attend in their preferred format. 

The oCUBE program is built on session ideas 'pitched' by members. Got an idea for a session - pitch it

Regardless of how you're attending, we're looking forward to seeing everyone at the UnConference!

The UnConference schedule will be released on May 17.


There is no registration cost to attending the UnConference online or in-person. 
  • However, you must register,  regardless of whether you are attending online or in-person. 
    • If you are attending in-person you must contact Shamrock to book your lodging.
    • In-person costs for lodging and food are detailed below. 


May 24 - 27, 2022 

  • Tues. May 24 in-person social element in the evening. 
  • Wed. May 25 and Thurs. May 26 - UnConference sessions in the morning and afternoon! 
  • Fri. May 27 (morning) - state of oCUBE (aka oCUBE members' meeting)More information on scheduling to come. 


Online or at Shamrock Lodge, Muskoka 


Beautiful and accommodating Shamrock Lodge in Port Carling, ON has been hosting our May UnConferences since  2013 and they were with us in spirit in 2020 and 2021. 

There are 3 options for your stay: 

  • Single occupancy (lodging and food): $275/night + HST +15% service charge
  • Double occupancy (lodging and food): $225/night + HST +15% service charge
  • "The Treehouse"
    • Shamrock provides one multi-person cabin ("The Treehouse") free-of-charge!* The only fee for this option is to cover meals (in 2019, this was ~$70/day + HST, and it's increased a bit since then). Note that this multi-person cabin (1 king in the loft; 1 bedroom with queen bed; 1 bedroom with 2 single beds; 1 bathroom) doesn't afford enough privacy for complete separation of genders. 


  1. CALL Shamrock and book your lodging of choice - let them know you're with oCUBE! There is a $100 deposit.
  2. Let Shamrock know of any food allergies, dietary requirements, or special accommodations that you require. 
  3. Fill in the oCUBE Registration form
  4. Need financial assistance? See below and fill in the funding request form


Really want to attend in person but you aren't sure you can afford it? oCUBE has funding available for oCUBE members wishing to attend the in-person UnConference and needs some financial support. oCUBE is a supportive community; we've got your back!

oCUBE has funding available to cover up to the price of a double-occupancy room ($225/night per person). If you choose to stay in a single room ($275/night per person), you'll need to cover the difference. If you need a roommate, we'll try to help you find one (no guarantees). You also have the option of lodging in "The Treehouse", in which case oCUBE will cover the cost of your meals.  

Fill out this form to request funding support. 

oCUBE is partnered with

Open Consortium of Undergraduate Biology Educators is a non-profit. 

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