Top Ten

July 17, 2012

uToronto joins Coursera

The University of Toronto is the lone Canadian PSE institution among 12 international schools announced yesterday as new partners in Coursera, a major US-based venture offering massive open online courses (MOOCs). uToronto will pilot 5 courses starting this fall, lasting 4 to 6 weeks. The courses are not for credit, and will not provide certificates offered by other MOOC initiatives. Canadian institutions are starting to see MOOCs as a way to "dramatically increase the visibility of their brand," and to reach the growing middle class in emerging nations such as Brazil and India, says Contact North president Maxim Jean-Louis. Globe and Mail | Inside Higher Ed

Appeal court upholds ruling on pro-life protest at Carleton

Pro-life students suing Carleton University cannot claim the institution breached their Charter right to free expression by refusing to give them space to make their point, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled last week. The court upheld a decision reached in January, agreeing that the Charter does not apply to Carleton as the university is not carrying out a specific government program or policy when it books space for extra-curricular use. The decision narrows but does not end the students' lawsuit. They will continue their claim that they were wrongfully arrested at Carleton's behest, that the university violated its contract with students by limiting their freedom of expression, and that it breached its own policies. Ottawa Sun

Deal brings new student accommodations to York U

York University's board of governors has approved the selection of Forum Equity Partners and Campus Suites Inc. as the lead proponent to construct and manage a new suite-style student housing project at the university. New housing is just one element of York U's 10-year Student Housing Strategy. In addition to the new student accommodations, all 10 existing undergraduate residences and 6 university apartment buildings at the Keele and Glendon campuses will be updated. Y-File

Fleming breaks ground for Kawartha Trades and Technology Centre

Fleming College held a groundbreaking ceremony Monday to celebrate the start of construction on its Kawartha Trades and Technology Centre. The 87,000-square-foot facility will be used to teach and train students from the college, regional high schools, and regional industry. The centre will feature sustainable shop facilities, smart-wired classrooms, and labs with the latest technology. The centre will provide new space and equipment for training in areas such as carpentry, masonry, welding, plumbing, electrical, and engineering programs. Fleming News Release

McGill VP on appealing to Chinese donors

Marc L. Weinstein, VP for development and alumni relations at McGill University, cautions that though China is a relatively untapped market, it is a hard one for Western fundraisers to break into. In China, deals are made or broken by personal connections, says Weinstein. Several of McGill's biggest donors in China would not have given to the institution if its president had not been present at the signing of the papers. With rankings carrying particular weight in Asia, Chinese graduates are more swayed to donate to their alma mater when they are reminded of its prestige, Weinstein says. He notes that McGill is most successful when it appeals to benefactors with a project that has a local connection. The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)

Program-specific ESL classes boost academic performance, student engagement, study finds

New research from the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario observes that sheltered, program-specific ESL courses can lead to improved academic performance and better overall student engagement; however, the designers of these programs must be mindful of the effects of isolating ESL students, as many participants felt disconnected from the greater student population. Examining the impact of OCAD University's English Language Pathway Program, researchers found that improvement of participants' academic performance in their first year did not carry over to their second year of studies when they were fully integrated into regular classes. Researchers stress the importance of providing supports for students as they move to a full load of integrated classes at the end of the sheltered ESL program. Research Summary | Full Report

Ontario teacher ed confirmations in July reach 10-year low

Ontario Universities' Application Centre data show that as of July 4, there are 7,058 accepted offers of admission for teacher education at Ontario universities, down 8% from the 7,668 confirmations recorded in July 2011. This month's numbers are the lowest on record since July 2003. Teacher Education Confirmation Statistics -- July 2012

Saskatchewan makes changes to student aid program

The Saskatchewan government has introduced new processes to improve services for students applying for financial assistance. The first change is the launch of the Master Student Financial Assistance Agreement. This new document will require students to sign only one student loan agreement for their entire PSE. The second change is the introduction of the Electronic Confirmation of Enrolment, which allows PSE institutions to electronically confirm enrolment, eliminating long queues at registrar and financial aid offices, also saving time for both students and institutions. Saskatchewan News Release

uCalgary researchers develop virtual human for medical education

University of Calgary researchers have developed a new interactive tool that will change the way medical education is taught. Named after a medical student who died in a car crash, LINDSAY is a virtual human that uses various touch interfaces to help students learn anatomy and physiology in 3D. The project is a collaboration between the Faculties of Medicine and Science and can be customized to whatever lesson students are being taught. uCalgary News Release

Canadore adopts mental health and wellness dog

Next month Canadore College will welcome a mental health and wellness dog. The German Shepherd puppy will live in residence under the care and supervision of Canadore's residence life coordinator, and will undergo intensive training as a service dog. Canadore is welcoming suggestions for names for the dog from the public on its website. Canadore News Release