Top Ten

November 20, 2007

Why girls don't like science

The Canadian Council on Learning reports that, while the number of Canadian women pursuing PSE continues to grow, there still exists a large gender gap in science-related occupations.  In light of studies showing similar abilities in complex problem solving, these findings suggest that cultural or environmental factors rather than biological ones affect girls’ interests and career choices.  The report suggests that parents can take a number of steps to foster their daughters’ interest in science.

Examining student access and financial assistance for PSE

Written by policy analysts at the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation, the Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRRP) website features two articles about PSE access and financial assistance.  “Mind the Access Gap” observes that, “in addition to financial issues, factors like academic ability, parental influence and poor information play a role in shaping the educational pathways that young adults follow.”  The second article, "The Case for Modernization," looks at PSE quality and explores a strategy for modernization of financial aid.

Shorter training considered for Med students

A two-year review is underway to consider allowing students without undergraduate degrees to enroll in physician training, shortening the time it takes to train doctors.  Although the number of students entering medicine is at a record high, the review comes at a time when Canada’s medical schools are under pressure to produce more doctors in a shorter timeframe, as Baby Boomers age and hundreds of doctors approach retirement.  The review will look at best practices around the world.

Campuses start to hire in expectation of future shortages

The AUCC predicts that Canadian universities will have to replace about half of their faculty in the coming decade, further intensifying the competition for talent on campuses.  Though plenty of job opportunities is good news for academics, universities will have to compete with institutions around the world for faculty, as well as the growing number of opportunities available in the public and private sector.  As the first wave of faculty retirements has begun, more graduate spaces are becoming necessary.

CPRN outlines recommendations for adult learning

The Canadian Policy Research Networks recently released their report on adult learning entitled “Towards an Effective Adult Learning System.”  The vision for a more accessible and effective adult learning system was the result of regional roundtable discussions with a number of stakeholders, including business, labour, government, and educational institutions.  Among the highlights, the report recommends a public policy framework that acknowledges the “right to learn”, financial support, employer incentives, investment in basic skills training, and a coordinated approach to respond to adult learners’ needs.

Iraqi professors learn at uAlberta

14 Iraqi professors are visiting the University of Alberta this month to learn from the school's education experts, in an attempt to help rebuild the country's devastated educational system.  Sponsored by UNESCO, the United Nations' culture agency, uAlberta was the only university in North America chosen to participate in the new Teacher Training Network for Iraq program.  During their stay, chemistry and biology professors are being taught numerous skills, including how to design instructional packages and modernize their outdated curricula, so that they can return to Iraq and teach other teachers.

York & Memorial announce extended Biz partnership

York University's Schulich Executive Education Centre and Memorial University of Newfoundland's Centre for Management Development have announced a new partnership that will expand program options between centres.  The partnership will see more collaboration between the two centres, and increased professional development opportunities.  The CMD has been working with York since 1999, but the new partnership will see SEEC programs available at the CMD for the first time.

Mature students disappointed by CE websites

A new report finds school websites are often found lacking by adult learners, in particular.  More than 500 prospective mature students were surveyed, and reported that most sites were "at least somewhat helpful," but many were "difficult to search or skimpy on useful content."  More than 90% of prospective students who visited continuing education websites wanted cost information for courses, but only 59% were able to find this information effectively.

Profs seek to end "digital drift"

In an effort to create an environment where students aren’t tempted to surf the web, check their emails, shop online, or network on Facebook, many professors are turning their classrooms into “laptop-free zones”.  Some profs find the lack of technology refreshing, while others wonder if they should restrict technology when most campuses are wireless, and some require laptops.  A Calgary-based company has developed a product called SynchronEyes, which allows professors to monitor thumbnail views of every computer screen in the class, and block websites such as Facebook.

Podcasting for pennies a day

With a “rock-bottom” budget, an online program director at an inner-city Los Angeles college has successfully provided podcasts of classroom lectures to students, as part of a pilot program started in 2006.  Using free cast-off computers from a local county courthouse and help from an open source software startup, the podcasts are available to the many LATTC students who had traditionally used personal tape recorders to help overcome their poor language skills.