Top Ten

January 9, 2007

$2 Million LIFT to Ontario Faculty

Yesterday the Ontario government opened nominations for its new Leadership in Faculty Teaching awards, which will recognize up to 100 college and university faculty with $20,000 over two years. "Faculty who go the extra mile to provide college and university students with an outstanding learning experience should be recognized for their teaching efforts." Nominations close February 28. MTCU media release

Ranking Universities by Faculty Output

Yesterday, Academic Analytics released the rankings in its second annual Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index (FSPI), an analysis of 7,300 PhD programs at 354 US research universities based on publications, citations, and research awards of faculty. The top institutions are Harvard, California Institute of Technology, UC San Francisco, MIT, and Yale. Media release

BLAST in Antarctica

On December 22, while the eyes of the world's children were focused on the North Pole, the Balloon-borne Large-Aperture Sub-millimeter Telescope (BLAST) was successfully launched in the Antarctic. For 11 days the telescope floated at an altitude of 39.5 km, collecting data on stellar formation for astronomers at uToronto, UBC and a consortium of other universities in the US, UK, and Mexico. UofT news

Ryerson Launches Documentary MFA

Starting this September, Ryerson will be offering an MFA program in Documentary Media aiming to combine the traditions of documentary film and photography with emerging new media. The school intends the program to further its goal of becoming Canada’s leader in photographic and media study and research. The MFA program will focus on the concept and theory of producing non-fiction work in film, photography and new media. Ryerson news

In Defense of the Liberal Arts

The Alberta economic boom is causing waves of social change across the country and Michael Higgins, in a Globe & Mail opinion piece, expresses his concern that Canadians will forget the necessity of a "non-utility" university education. Economic and commercial pursuits may be leading to a stigmatization of the Liberal Arts. "It is the role of a liberal arts education to transcend utility, to see the value of the human person beyond the use to which he or she can be put." (Certainly Academica's research suggests a growing focus on careerism and employment outcomes by university applicants.) Globe & Mail (free registration required)

uWaterloo Softens Co-op Marks Policy

In December, the University of Waterloo announced that it would automatically forward student transcripts to all prospective co-op employers, but recently UW's policy has been amended. Starting this September, co-op employers will be asked if they require marks or whether students can be given the option to withhold their transcripts. 15% of UW students interviewed during a spring term chose to withhold their marks. UW Imprint

Carleton Scholarship for African Students

AIDS awareness activist Nnaemeka Ekwosimba is the first recipient of Carleton University’s Richard Van Loon Scholarship. The $5,000 award is earmarked for an African student with high academic achievement, and requiring financial aid in order to pursue their studies at Carleton. The recipient states that the Van Loon scholarship effectively recognizes the obstacles faced by international students, particularly those from developing countries. Carleton media release

Law School Curriculum Needs More Humanity

A new report from the US-based Carnegie Foundation argues that Law schools need to put more effort into teaching practical "lawyering" skills as well as understanding of ethical and moral considerations of law. Through widespread use of the "case-dialogue method" of teaching, students are showing improved capacity for understanding legal process, seeing both sides of legal argument, sifting through facts and precedents, using precise language, and for understanding the applications and conflicts of legal rules -- however, this method of teaching often misses out on the complexity of the living people involved in a case, as well as the social and ethical perspectives. Inside Higher Ed

PEW Survey on Social Network Website Use

A recent phone survey of 935 American teens found that more than half use social networking websites, and that almost half visit them daily. 70% of 15- to 17-year-old girls are members, versus 57% of boys the same age. MySpace is the most popular site for secondary school students: 85% of youth that use social networks use MySpace, 7% Facebook and 1% Xanga. Girls are using the service primarily to maintain connections, while almost a third of boys are using the service to flirt. A 10-page summary is available free online. Washington Post | PEW Summary Report (PDF)

Major Metropolitan Areas Prime for Distance Education

Although online learning is often perceived as a medium to overcome geographic barriers, residents of major metropolitan centres are actually the biggest market. Despite the variety of campus-based alternatives,'s list of the top 10 cities for online learning includes the largest metropolitan areas in the US. On a per capita basis, cities with military bases appear to be the most fertile ground for distance education. At the close of 2005, it was estimated that fully 7% of all PSE enrollments were in online programs. eLearners media release