Top Ten

July 18, 2013

WesternU prof charged with online child offenses

A Western University professor has been suspended after London Police charged him with several counts of online child luring and gun posession. As part of an investigation that began July 12, police examined the home of Graham Wagner, a uWestern physiology and pharmacology professor. They found a small amount of marijuana, two shotguns, a .22-calibre rifle, and a .22 Smith and Wesson handgun. Wagner has also been charged with 2 counts each of “telecommunication with person under or believed under 16 years for specific criminal offences and telecommunication with person under or believed under 18 years for specific criminal offences.” uWestern officials say Wagner is suspended "pending a review of the matter." Canadian Press | London Free Press

YorkU launches new entrepreneurship institute

The Schulich School of Business at York University has announced the launch of a new entrepreneurship institute, with the first cohort of participants to begin this September. The York Entrepreneurship Development Institute will accept 20 fellows who fall into either a for-profit track or a not-for-profit track. Program director Dana Ayrapetyan says they are aiming to help the not-for-profit sector become more self-sufficient. Ayrapetyan says “developing a stronger entrepreneurial culture around socially-motivated ventures is important for that reason.” Schulich’s new institute is part of a long list of new entrepreneurship programs and accelerators created by universities in the last few years. Some recent examples include a new university-wide entrepreneurship course at UBC, the new Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at uCalgary, and a multi-institutional entrepreneurship centre currently being built in Montreal. Yonge Street Media

Ontario colleges call for expansion of online learning

Colleges in Ontario are calling for an expansion of online learning programs in the province as they meet this week with training, colleges and universities minister Brad Duguid to discuss the subject. “The province needs a forward-thinking online strategy to help more people acquire the advanced skills they need to succeed in their careers,” says Lorraine Carter, Senior VP Academic at St. Lawrence College. “Ontario must become a world leader in online learning.” The colleges want to see more programs and courses offered through OntarioLearn, a consortium of Ontario’s colleges that registers more than 69,000 students each year. Other proposals include expanding the availability of online/in-class blended programs at individual colleges, and increasing access to the theory portion of apprenticeship programs through e-trades models. St. Lawrence College News Release

uWaterloo Athletics launches refreshed website

The University of Waterloo’s Department of Athletics has launched a refreshed version of its website to provide users with smoother functionality and enhanced visual appeal. The new site places a greater emphasis on photo and video content. “With social media playing such a big role in all aspects of communication, our goal is to continue to drive traffic through those outlets back to our site,” says social media and brand manager Steve Brooks. New features include a live Twitter feed, a larger video portal, more images, a scrolling event ticker, and rollover links. uWaterloo News Release | Athletics Website

Queen's partners with Humber River Hospital

Queen's University has formed an educational alliance with Humber River Hospital in Toronto to provide Queen's medical students with further learning opportunities. All students, residents and clinical fellows from Queen’s University's School of Medicine will rotate through each of the hospital’s acute care service disciplines, beginning with the Women’s and Children’s Program this August. HRH is one of Canada's largest regional acute care hospitals, and is home to Ontario's first Centre of Excellence for laparoscopic bariatric surgery. HRH is currently undergoing a redevelopment to become North America's first fully digital hospital. Queen's News

We’re missing jobs, not skills, opinion

Jim Stanford, an economist for the Canadian Auto Workers, offers an alternate view on the oft-touted skills-gap issue. Stanford references a Tweet by new minister of employment and social development Jason Kenney, which establishes that the government is focusing on the skills mismatch problem: skilled employees aren’t being matched with the right jobs. Stanford suggests that this theory is wrong, and that “except in very rare circumstances, the labour market almost never runs out of workers.” He says that the problem is actually a “persistent inadequacy of employer demand for labour,” and that the clear restriction to a higher employment rate is the “number of jobs, not the availability of willing workers.” He also states that a lack of skills are not the problem either; citing the high PSE attainment rate in Canada. “While investments in more training always make sense, there is no general skills shortage.” To back up this claim, Stanford also points out that StatsCan reports just over 200,000 unfilled job vacancies in the entire economy, a number that has declined, and is small relative to the overall economy (equivalent to barely 1% of the labour force). Stanford concludes that job-creation should be the government’s main focus. Globe and Mail

San Jose State puts Udacity project on “pause”

San Jose State University is planning to “pause” its experimental partnership with MOOC provider Udacity, which offers 3 online for-credit math courses for $150 to 100 students per course. According to SJSU provost Ellen Junn, the “breather” was prompted by disappointing student performance. Preliminary results from the spring semester found that students did not do as well in the Udacity courses as those who attend normal classes. However, Junn warns against reading too much into the results, citing the “significant differences in the student populations.” Junn also points out that courses included at-risk students, high school students and SJSU students who had already failed a remedial math course, a combination that caused the university to "stack the deck against [them]selves." SJSU plans to keep working this fall with edX, another MOOC provider, and reports that students in the edX experimental classes are actually faring better than regular SJSU students. The edX partnership is different from the one with Udacity, which is designed to replace classroom learning, because SJSU is using edX material only as a supplement to the classroom experience. Inside Higher Ed

Target aims at millenials with new ad campaign

Target stores have increased the "back-to-school creep" by launching an early annual marketing campaign aimed at millenials returning to university and college this fall.  This year's "Bullseye University" campaign includes an interactive YouTube reality series featuring popular web personalities. Viewers can interact with the "roommates," virtually attend events via YouTube, and purchase dorm room items featured in the videos from Target's website.  College-education-related spending is up over 40% in the last 2 years, and students, especially girls, report pressure to meet high standards of dorm room decor. CNBC News

US federal student loan debt surpassed $1 trillion

Student loan borrowers in the US now owe the federal government a total of $1.2 trillion, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced this week. This is the first time the aggregated student loan debt has surpassed $1 trillion. The milestone was passed while Democrats and Republicans on the US Senate continued to spar over how to settle future interest rates on student loans, which doubled to 6.8% on July 1. Chronicle of Higher Education

This year’s best exam gaffes

Times Higher Ed has released this year's batch of "Exam Howlers," submissions by professors of typos, mixed metaphors, and other student slip-ups.  Some of this year's gems include a reference to Alfred Hitchcock as a "torched Catholic," and one essay that opened with the line, "Sex has puzzled biologists ever since it was discovered by Darwin and Mendel." Another example shows how one very small error can lead to a very different sentence: "General Franco was supported by right-wing panties." THE reports that sex features heavily in the bloopers year-to-year.  Inside Higher Ed