Top Ten

October 29, 2013

uToronto announces $4.9-million automotive partnership with Ford

The University of Toronto has announced a new $4.9-million partnership with Ford Motor Company to develop a new material for car parts using renewable resources extracted from wood pulp. The team, led by Professor Mohini Sain of Forestry and Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry, is using 2 key ingredients from wood pulp to create a high-strength composite that will make the manufacturing process greener, leading to reduced vehicle emissions. The Automotive Partnership Canada (APC), a collaboration of public and private sector members, is supplying $2,513,500, and financial and in-kind contributions from Ford and uToronto bring the total value of the project to $4,981,500, researchers say. uToronto News Release

7 universities among top 150 in Global Employability rankings

Seven Canadian universities have made the 2013 Global Employability University Ranking released by Paris’’ Emerging human resources consultancy. uToronto remains the top Canadian university in the rankings this year, and has made the top 20 – jumping to number 14 from 24. McGill (30), UBC (51), uMontral/HEC Montreal (59), and McMaster (73) are all in the top 100. uWaterloo and WesternU rank 114 and 119, respectively. To come up with the rankings, Emerging conducts an online survey of 2,756 recruiters from 20 countries, who are asked to draw a portrait of the ideal university and to select from a list of local universities that, in their opinion, produced the best young graduates. Next, CEOs and Chairpersons, selected amongst the top 1000 companies in 30 countries, cast a maximum of 10 votes from the local and global rankings established in phase one, with the possibility to submit additional names. Rankings 2013 | Full Report

ACCC announces industry-engagement plan to support job growth

The Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC) has announced that it is seeking closer alignment with Canada’’s businesses and industry associations to support jobs and growth, bridge the country’’s skills gap, and ensure students have the necessary knowledge to start a good career. The plans were made during ACCC’’s National Skills Summit, at which presidents and CEOs from Canada’’s colleges, institutes, and polytechnics came together to identify solutions for greater access to education, including for Indigenous learners, and to connect Canadians to the right skills for employment. To support the new engagement with industry, ACCC will re-establish an employer coalition, promote its work on pathways and transferability, leverage its membership on committees of other related organizations, and will name 3 new external directors to its Board of Directors. ACCC News Release

George Brown aims for co-ops in 100% of programs

George Brown College has expanded its field and co-operative education to 75% of its programs in 2013, up from 69%, and the college plans to have 100% of eligible programs include a field education component by 2020. Employers say hosting a field-education student increases productivity, brings fresh energy into the workplace and offers them a way to meet and assess potential future employees, says GBC. ““In fact, some of the college’s partners have been so pleased with their field education experience, they’ve taken students from multiple academic divisions.”” GBC News Release

YorkU online tool empowers students to develop writing skills

York University has introduced a new modular, online tool designed to help students with academic assignments. The Student Papers and Academic Research Kit (SPARK) modules are organized into 3 categories, ““Getting Started”,” ““Exploring”” and ““Pulling it Together”,” and focus on key academic literacy skills such as time management, research strategies, essay structure, essay editing and creating bibliographies. The modules include such interactive components as test-your-knowledge quizzes, videos, and printable worksheets designed to enhance academic literacies. ““The students that we spoke to both in focus groups and through concept testing revealed that they appreciated that SPARK allowed them to choose when, and how, they wanted to learn. From those consultations the theme of empowerment emerged,”” says YorkU Reference and Instruction Librarian Adam Taves. YorkU News | SPARK

BC looks for ways to boost trades

The British Columbia government is focused on ways to tackle a ““looming jobs crisis”” and boost trades, including drafting a new kindergarten to grade 9 curriculum and rethinking the role of PSE and apprenticeship training, reports the Globe and Mail. The proposed elementary curriculum aims to change the way BC schools teach, and is based on the idea that students will learn more usable skills with hands-on, multidisciplinary projects than with the current 62-minute-blocks system where ““learning is done in silos.”” An independent review of the authority that handles credentials and standards for apprenticeship programs is due in November. In PSE, BC is developing 20 open textbooks for skills training and technical PSE subject areas, which are in addition to the open, online textbooks announced last fall for 40 high enrolment first- and second-year subject areas. Globe and Mail | BC News Release

Canadian PSE must focus on quality, not quantity

Canada is falling behind in knowledge creation and adoption, so we must ““recognize the value in creating world-class universities, and then find the political will and public support to change how our universities are funded,”” argues Western University President Amit Chakma in a recent National Post op-ed. Chakma looks to several 2013 university rankings, in which Canadian institutions fall behind those from other countries, as an argument for change. ““Given these standings, we need to ask some tough questions about how our university system can help Canada compete more effectively internationally,”” says Chakma. He argues that the current ““bums-in-seats”” funding model, which was designed long ago to maximize the number of educated students, fails to support excellence. ““By removing the structural barriers and focusing on quality — rather than quantity — we can build a system that will close the gaps that threaten our future prosperity,”” concludes Chakma. National Post

Universities offer students ability to generalize

The Globe and Mail reports on the increasing popularity of generalist university programs in its Canadian University Report 2014. The University of Victoria offers a Minor in Human Dimensions of Climate Change, an interdisciplinary program that Evan Pivnick says ““strengthened his ability to consider problems from different perspectives and communicate with experts from disparate fields.”” The Globe points out that while interdisciplinary programs have been around for some time, universities are coming up with unique curricula that ““recognize that modern problems require thinkers with a broad wisdom not limited to a single field.”” McMaster University’’s honours integrated science, arts and science, and bachelor of health sciences programs are inherently interdisciplinary. Dalhousie University’’s College of Sustainability offers double majors that involve working on sustainability challenges in the community with professors in the arts, business, science, engineering, health and design faculties. Most of the 60 universities researched for the Canadian University Report offer relatively new interdisciplinary undergraduate programs in subjects as varied as cognitive science, peace and justice, food systems and community engagement. Globe and Mail

Manitoba launches online educator’s’ resource

The Manitoba Department of Education and Advanced Learning has launched a bilingual online resource that will allow K–12 educators to share learning resources, network with specialists, and share best practices to enhance the quality of education. The Manitoba Professional Learning Environment (MAPLE) includes moderated discussions, searchable libraries of resources, wiki online databases, blogs, event registration, news, and shared resource collections in all subject areas across the curriculum. MAPLE will also function as a forum in which teachers can provide feedback to the Department of Education and Advanced Learning. ““MAPLE is part of our strategy to improve the quality of education in Manitoba by making sure teachers have the tools they need to support student success,”” says Education and Advanced Learning Minister James Allum. Manitoba News Release

Khan Academy launches MCAT preparation videos

Khan Academy, a provider of free, online educational videos, has launched a series of videos designed to prepare learners for the revised MCAT exam, which will first be administered in spring 2015. The 150 videos were created by winners of a student competition hosted this year in collaboration with the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a public health organization. According to Inside Higher Ed, additional MCAT prep videos will be added to the Khan Academy website in 2014. Inside Higher Ed