Top Ten

March 10, 2011

VIU faculty go on strike

Vancouver Island University announced yesterday the cancellation of classes, services, and activities at its Nanaimo, Cowichan, Parksville, and Power River campuses due to strike action by members of the university's faculty association. The Canadian Press reports that as many as 18,000 full- and part-time students are affected. Among the key issues for association members are job security and ensuring students have access to PSE at VIU. The institution is facing a government-imposed 3-year funding freeze that will see the university having to cut 10% of its costs in that time. VIU Advisory | Nanaimo Daily News | Canadian Press

UPEI ordered to pay back reinstated employees

The Supreme Court of PEI has ruled that the University of Prince Edward Island should compensate 3 employees who were forced to retire in 2005 by paying them thousands of dollars in lost salaries. Last year, the employees won a human rights case that struck down UPEI's mandatory retirement policy and forced the institution to rehire them. The Court is still reviewing the entire human rights decision on mandatory retirement and may rule that no compensation is required. Should the Court agree with UPEI and uphold its mandatory retirement policy, the employees may have to return any compensation they are given now. Charlottetown Guardian | CBC

ACCC pushes for national education standards for personal care providers

The Association of Canadian Community Colleges and the Canadian Association of Continuing Care Educators are leading an initiative to create a set of basic competencies that could become a national education standard for personal care providers. A national forum held this week is the first step -- more than 75 health care educators, professionals, employers, and government representatives met in Ottawa to discuss key issues and jurisdictional challenges. Educational requirements for personal care providers vary from province to province, and credentials are often not recognized between, and even sometimes within, jurisdictions. ACCC News Release

PSE a focus in Ontario's Northern Growth Plan

Last Friday, Cambrian College was the venue for the Ontario government's launch of its map for northern prosperity, called the Northern Ontario Growth Plan. On the subject of educational attainment, the document states the province will work with PSE institutions and school boards to expand participation opportunities for northerners, which could include increasing opportunities for studying PSE programs online; facilitating student mobility; and opportunities for accessing French-language PSE and training. The plan says the government will work with the region's higher education institutions to attract students from across Canada and worldwide with the goal of raising the province's profile and competitiveness as a world-class destination for PSE. Cambrian News Release | Read the document

Times Higher Education releases inaugural reputation rankings

Yesterday Times Higher Education published its first World Reputation Rankings. The reputation ranking is drawn from a survey of more than 13,000 academics worldwide. The data informed the current World University Rankings, but are now published in isolation for the first time, revealing discrepancies between some universities' reputations and their overall ranking. Canada has 4 universities in the reputation top 100 -- University of Toronto (17), McGill University (29), University of British Columbia (31), and University of Waterloo (in the 91-100 group). Harvard University places first in the reputation ranking. Times Higher Education | QMI Agency | Top Universities by Reputation 2011

uSask president to step down next year

University of Saskatchewan president Peter MacKinnon announced Wednesday that he will step down from his position on June 30, 2012. MacKinnon is uSask's eighth president, having been sworn into office in July 1999. Among MacKinnon's lasting legacies, uSask's board chair notes, will be the establishment of the institution's strategic directions in 2002, which has been the foundation for the university's growth and development ever since. The search for a new president will follow uSask's approved process, beginning with the establishment of a search committee by summer. uSask News Release

uOttawa launches Canada's first virtual history lab

Yesterday the University of Ottawa's education faculty celebrated the opening of its new Virtual History Laboratory (VH Lab), the first research centre in Canada to study the online learning of history. Using innovative approaches such as eye-tracking analysis, the VH Lab will explore the methods and quality of virtual learning to better understand the needs of online learners, and to develop the models and contexts that help improve the design, presentation, and evaluation of websites, simulations, and learning materials in history. uOttawa News Release

monocleCAT allows students to answer questions using mobile devices

A pair of University of Waterloo graduates has developed a classroom response system that turns students' mobile devices into interactive teaching tools. The online platform, called monocleCAT, is similar in concept to the "clicker" response system; however, instead of having to buy clickers, students answer multiple-choice questions using their own personal gadgets, such as a BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad, laptop, or cellphone. monocleCAT also allows students to download files and take part in open-ended questions and other interactive exercises. About 4,500 students at 5 Ontario institutions -- Brock, UoGuelph, uToronto, uWaterloo, and UWO -- are currently using the platform in 25 different courses. University Affairs

Alberta PSE minister proposes province-wide student card

Alberta Advanced Education Minister Greg Weadick is working on an initiative that would give post-secondary students in the province access to academic information at other institutions in Alberta by using nothing more than a barcode on their cellphone. The proposed province-wide student card would allow students to access libraries and academic information such as transcripts from schools across Alberta. "(Cellphones) are (students') life, and we want to make sure they can connect to all those services," says Weadick, who is looking to move forward with the initiative throughout the year. The Gateway (uAlberta student newspaper)

Study reveals positive impact of "success coaching"

According to an analysis of the impact of InsideTrack, a commercial service that provides one-on-one coaching to students on areas such as time management and academic goals, after 6 months of using the service, coached students were 5.2 percentage points more likely to be enrolled than were other students -- a 9% gain in retention. The impact also holds for completion rates -- students in the control group completed at a rate of 31%, compared to 35% for those who received coaching. The study also found that individualized coaching was a cost-effective strategy. Inside Higher Ed | The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)