Top Ten

July 18, 2007

uRegina builds world's first hydrogen demo plant

The University of Regina has dedicated $3.7 million to build a new hydrogen production plant, to prove the viability of a new technology for hydrogen production.  "Investors want to see a working model before we roll it out into the field."  The plant enables large-scale biofuel research and tests, and is expected to be completed by 2008 as part of the Greenhouse Gas Technology Centre on campus.  uRegina is the first in the world to build a live demonstration plant.  H2 Daily

First Nations U signs agreement with Taiwanese university

First Nations University of Canada has signed a new exchange student agreement with National Dong Hwa, a university based in Hualien, Taiwan.  The institutions feel that the shared experience of indigenous peoples worldwide will provide a valuable learning experience for both students and faculty. Faculty, students and research will be exchanged between the two institutions over the next 5 years. Taiwanese students may even be able to attend FNU lectures via Internet broadcast.  This is the first agreement signed between National Dong Hwa and a foreign institution.  The Regina Leader-Post

Brock revises flat-fee policy for 2007-08

The Brock University Students' Union and the university itself have reached a compromise regarding the proposed flat-fee tuition policy.  The policy will now apply only to first-year students, who will for the most part take 5 full credits.  The issue is still not completely resolved, and the original flat-fee policy is still scheduled to go into effect in 2008-09.  Future talks between the Students' Union and administration are anticipated, and open forums and focus groups are also planned.  Brock University Students Union News Release

Barrie and Alberta stand as Canada's last "fountains of youth"

Basic demographic data from the 2006 Canadian census, released yesterday, paints a picture of an aging workforce with few young people in the next generation. Within 10 years, retirees will outnumber newcomers to the workforce, and possibly will outnumber children as well. Immigration patterns show that most new Canadians are about 30 years old, doing little to offset the bulge of older workers.  Barrie, Ontario is the home of Canada’s youngest urban population. Calgary and Edmonton are also booming with young people because of the oil industry’s attraction to workers from across the country.  The birthrates in Alberta's cities are higher than most others in the country.  The Globe & Mail | CTV | Statistics Canada

Atlantic universities launch high performance computing cluster

7 Atlantic universities will form the Atlantic Computational Excellence Network, a high performance computing cluster similar to others across Canada (SHARCNet and WestGrid).  The cluster will be used by researchers at all 7 institutions to perform complex calculations or run simulations.  The project is funded by a $9.9 million CFI grant.  IT Business

Commuter students are less prepared for the world

A new study in the UK finds that 1 in 5 students are now choosing to live at home with their parents while attending university, often to save money due to the rising tuitions. The value of the PSE experience, however, is significantly lessened for those students who remain at home.  Commuter students have weaker social skills and employability: "young people who live at home are less likely to undertake option work placements as part of their degree, less likely to undertake graduate level jobs on graduation, less likely to socialise with their fellow students because they remain in their pre-university social groups, and more likely to feel isolated from their peer group at university."  The Guardian Unlimited

Social Science & Humanities PhD's take longer to complete

57% of doctoral students have their "terminal degrees" in hand within 10 years of enrolling in a PhD program, based on US PhD completion statistics.  In the 1970s, the rate was approximately 50%.  Most engineering and science students finish their PhD's within just 6 or 7 years, while social sciences and humanities students average closer to 11 or 12 years, causing some to question if 10 years is the correct timing to base completion rates on. The Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required)

Payoff small for Facebook, MySpacebanner ads

Earlier this year, the click-through rate of paid Facebook advertisements was around 0.04%: "advertisers who have experimented and bought ads on Facebook are universally disappointed with the results."  MySpace has a click-through rate of 0.1%.  It has been suggested that young internet users are adept at ignoring commercial content. (Universities and colleges must consider alternatives to banner advertising to leverage the broad reach of FaceBook -- more on that subject from Academica this fall!)  Biz Report

Companies take a step back from Second Life

4 years into its existence, some bricks and mortar companies are starting to re-evaluate their efforts in the world of Second Life. Second Life properties (or "islands") developed by experienced, often volunteer, users are far more successful than similar offerings by real-world companies.  Many corporate properties in Second Life present empty rooms with no-one to talk to, and nothing to interact with -- one point to remember is that a vibrant Second Life community requires a commitment to keeping the community fuelled with staff and content to keep visitors interested.  Second Life users also don’t have the same real world needs for real world company products, which may be another cause for lack of interest in commercial Second Life communities.  The LA Times

Will you be in Chicago or Baltimore next week?

Melissa and Ken are off to separate conferences: Melissa will be attending EduWeb 2007 in Baltimore, Maryland and will be happily soaking up knowledge on presentations from Admissions Blogging to Web-based viewbooks.  She'll also be writing a guest blog for on one of the sessions.  Philip Bliss, from Academica's technology partners x2idea corporation, will also be at EduWeb, to gather US perspectives on web Content Management Systems and the latest in portal technologies.  Meanwhile, Ken will be heading off to the Strategic Integrated Marketing conference in Chicago.