Top Ten

November 13, 2013

SIAST receives $12.7 million from federal government for language training program

The Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology (SIAST) has renewed its contract with the federal government to provide language instruction training to new immigrants in SK. The 3-year, $12.7-million contract will fund instruction for almost 3,000 learners at SIAST’s Wascana and Kelsey Campuses. SIAST’s Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program is supported by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, and provides the highest possible LINC levels to permanent residents. The program also offers a Canadian culture component to help newcomers better integrate into their communities. SIAST Wascana Campus LINC program head Brenda Sherring says, “Many of our newcomers to the province have university degrees or technical/trade certificates. The only thing stopping them from working in their chosen fields and fully contributing to the Canadian economy is the English language.” SIAST News Release

uQuébec establishes new research network

The Université du Québec à Montréal has created a research network among its partner institutions (Université du Québec à Abitibi -Témiscamingue, Université du Québec à Outaouais and Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières) to facilitate the exchange of interdisciplinary research. The Réseau québécois de communication internationale, interculturelle et développement (REQSIID), led by professor Carmen Rico De Sotelo of the Department of Social and Public Communication, aims to create a forum for discussion to identify areas for future research and to improve the field of international and intercultural communication and development. The REQSIID also aims for annual publications and the creation of a platform to host a website and virtual database. uQuébec News (in French)

YorkU creates innovative partnership with health care organization

York University has partnered with the Toronto Central Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) to collaborate on joint research and training opportunities. This "unprecedented" arrangement will offer students experiential learning placements, as well as research opportunities for graduate students and faculty. “With the ongoing shift toward home and community care, our partnership with Toronto Central CCAC is timely in that it will advance research in these increasingly important areas, as well as benefit students with practical, experiential education opportunities,” says YorkU Faculty of Health Dean Harvey Skinner. The partnership involves faculty and students from all 5 degree programs in the Faculty of Health (Kinesiology & Health Science, Psychology, Nursing, Global Health and Health Policy & Management). YorkU News Release

College diplomas help university grads enter the workforce

Increasing numbers of university graduates are continuing their education at colleges and polytechnics, according to a recent Globe and Mail article. “It’s a huge trend,” says Linda Franklin, President of Colleges Ontario. “In the last five years in Ontario, we have seen a 40% increase in university graduates going to college.” The post-recession job market has made it harder for young Canadians to find work, and more Canadians have university degrees than ever before, more than 22% according to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. A college diploma or certificate provides the hands-on training for a specific position, complimenting the theoretical learning of a university degree. Also, employers are investing less in on-the-job training, and are looking for experience on a resume. Lane Trotter, senior VP Academic at Fanshawe College notes, “What’s great about these graduate certificate programs is they allow students to get into the workforce quickly because they already have a solid underlying base from their previous education.” Globe and Mail

Innovations in higher ed for Canada to consider

Last week there were 2 separate conferences designed to examine the state of Canada’s PSE systems and to look for ways to improve Canada’s approach to education and training. The Conference Board of Canada’s summit, and the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario’s conference both discussed several innovative ideas currently in practice in other jurisdictions that may benefit Canada. The Globe and Mail’s James Bradshaw notes 3 possible initiatives to follow, including the practice in Tennessee of funding institutions based on students’ outcomes (including degrees awarded and job placements); adopting innovative teaching methods such as experiential or service learning; and the evolution of education in the arts to include skills like entrepreneurship and leadership in order to be more employable. Maclean’salso reported on the conferences and possible education innovations to consider, such as Switzerland’s emphasis on vocational streaming, Australia’s MyUniversity website that shows all programs available nationwide with employment prospects, Israel and China’s private partnerships with benefactors who fund institutional expansions, and Tennessee’s performance-based funding. Globe and Mail | Maclean’s  

New mental health awareness campaign initiated by CAMH

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has launched a new awareness campaign designed to “change the perception that mental illness only affects the individuals and families of those afflicted.” The campaign focuses on the ripple effects of 5 widespread conditions: schizophrenia, depression, alcoholism, bipolar disorder, and children with mental illness, and uses TV spots, newspaper ads, transit advertising, online banners, YouTube content and Facebook ads to get people talking. The campaign is using hashtags to connect social media users, but instead of having only one tag, the campaign uses a variety of tags to prompt conversations. “We want to encourage people who use social media to speak about it to hopefully get the word out and make it more commonplace [to discuss] mental illness.” Marketing Magazine |Campaign website

uOttawa launches newly designed bilingual website

The University of Ottawa has launched a newly designed website that “will help deliver on its commitment to an unparalleled student experience.” Drew Anderson, Executive Director, Communications, calls the new site “simpler, cleaner and more intuitive;” it is built to enable students and prospective students to access information quickly, and features a more-intuitive search engine, a “top-task bar” that allows users to access specific information directly on the homepage, and offers a revamped “Students” page which is now the portal for all key tools for students. The new site is mobile friendly, and features open-source back-end coding “for a unique English/French parallel content management system (CMS) for its bilingual community.” uOttawa News Release

Need for coordinated internship strategy

Experts are calling for more co-ordinated efforts towards managing and overseeing internships in Canada. One big issue is that existing legislation regarding internships is provincial, and therefore varies from province to province. "None of the regulations that have to do with internships anywhere in Canada have any mention of number of hours. We don’t have any hours per week or limit on how much interns can work, which in my view is problematic," says Claire Seaborn, a law student who established the Canadian Intern Association. In some provinces, workers compensation boards cover interns’ workplace accidents, others do not. In Alberta, internships that are not affiliated with educational institutions are illegal. Seaborn notes that the “patchwork of legislation” is confusing to interns and employers alike, and says that a "a coordinated effort would be fantastic." Ontario recently announced it is looking into legislation for student interns, and Minister of Labour Yasir Naqvi stated that trainees, interns and co-op students will be included under Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act "to ensure they have the same rights and protections as all workers." CBC

PhD students are not well prepared to be teachers

According to Derek Bok, former President of Harvard University, the “most glaring defect of [US] graduate programs ... is how little they do to prepare their students to teach.” Bok discusses the lack of instruction around pedagogy in most graduate programs, noting that as Teaching Assistants, many graduate students receive little supervision and feedback regarding their teaching styles and methods. Pointing to recent research around cognition, motivation, and the effectiveness of different teaching methods, Bok suggests that “pedagogy has become a much more complicated process that has evolved from an art that one can acquire by oneself to a subject requiring formal preparation.” As the number of students entering PSE rapidly increases year after year, the need for more formal training is imperative, whether it is provided by an institution during graduate programs, or by colleges and universities to beginning instructors. Bok concludes by noting that in order for the US to capitalize on the education of its people, “it will have to come through the quality of instruction that our undergraduates receive and not just from the quantity of college degrees being offered.” Chronicle of Higher Education

Council established to explore effectiveness of digital learning

Carnegie Mellon University announced this week that it is establishing a Global Learning Council (GLC) made up of educators, researchers, and executives to lead efforts to “develop standards and promote best practices” in online education. CMU also announced the launching of the Simon Initiative, which “will harness CMU’s decades of learning data and research to improve educational outcomes for students everywhere.” CMU’s database on student learning, considered the world’s largest, will open to public access as part of the initiative, in order to facilitate collaboration with outside researchers. The Simon Initiative is focusing on 4 main areas: sharing rich data globally, helping teachers teach, accelerating innovation and scaling through start-up companies, and improving the campus-based learning experience. CMU President Subra Suresh stated, “The world is experiencing an educational revolution, but there has not been sufficient effort to date to address the fundamental question: are students using these technology platforms really learning successfully? ... our goal is to create guidelines and best practices that ensure academic rigor and successful learning for students worldwide.” CMU News Release | Inside Higher Ed | Chronicle of higher Education