Top Ten

February 11, 2014

Queen's, PARTEQ suing Samsung for patent infringement

Queen’s University and PARTEQ Innovations are suing Samsung, claiming that it infringed on several patents, reports the Kingston Whig-Standard. The patents are for attentive user interface technologies developed by Professor Roel Vertegaal and graduate students at the Queen’s Human Media Laboratory; the technology makes video stop when a viewer looks away and start again when the viewer returns their eyes to the screen. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy S4 smartphones come with a similar technology called Smart Pause. "Queen's University offered Samsung the opportunity to license the technology to create such return on investment. Samsung chose not to do so, and therefore it has no right to use our intellectual property," says a university news release. Queen’s also says a confidentiality agreement between the parties was agreed to a month after these licensing talks took place. Whig-Standard

uToronto student too shy to attend all-female class loses human rights claim

A University of Toronto student has lost a human rights claim after his professor refused to excuse him from participating in a Women and Gender Studies course because he felt “shy and uncomfortable” as the only male in the class. Wongene Daniel Kim left the classroom on the first day when he noticed there were no other males; he contacted Professor Sarah Trimble to ask that she waive the 15% participation mark, a request Trimble refused. Kim then continued on in the class, claiming he was unaware of the deadline to drop the course and still avoid academic penalty. When Kim failed the course, he complained to the Human Rights Tribunal that he was being discriminated against because he was male. “The applicant has not satisfied me that his claimed discomfort in a classroom of women requires accommodation under the (Ontario Human Rights) Code,” wrote adjudicator Mary Truemner. CTV | Toronto Star

Huron defends decision to restrict non-Muslim auditor from Islamic preaching class

London’s Huron University College is defending a decision to bar a non-Muslim from auditing a course called Muslim Voice: Islamic Preaching, Public Speaking and Worship. The student, Moray Watson, was able to enrol in the class, but was emailed some time later and told he wouldn’t be able to take the course because Huron didn’t want to open the course to auditors. Both the professor for the course and Huron have said Watson could re-enrol in the course if he were willing to take it for credit, but stressed the need to restrict the class “to Muslims or people who serve the Muslim community.” The professor, Ingrid Mattson, says, “I don’t know to what extent he has a genuine interest or to what extent he has an ideological commitment to a certain world view of Muslims. There are people who have genuine concerns and there are ways for them to engage in discussions with Muslims, or with me, about these issues. I would think the Islam and politics class would have been much more suited to his interests.” Mattson also said that as a practical matter, the course is “largely graded on a student’s ability to, for example, preach Islamic scripture and deliver an Islamic blessing. The interactive nature of the course makes it difficult for an auditor.” National Post

69% of 2005 bachelor’s entrants completed PSE credential in BC by 2011

A new study of 12,508 students who entered BC bachelor’s programs in fall 2005 reveals that 69% of students completed a credential of some kind by fall 2011, and that 93% achieved the credential they initially entered – a bachelor’s degree. The Student Transitions Project also showed that 23% of these students were still registered in a PSE institution in BC in 2011. These students who are still attending PSE are, on average, more mobile among BC institutions than those students who completed a credential within 6 years, or those who didn’t continue studying at a BC institution. The study is produced by a partnership between BC's education and advanced education ministries and public PSE institutions. Project Highlights (BC Government)

Gen X, Y too confident about financial future

Young adults and teens may be overly confident about facing life’s major financial milestones, including paying for their children’s PSE in the future, reveal results of a survey by the Bank of Montreal Wealth Institute. 70% of the survey’s respondents who want to start a family said they’ll be able to pay for PSE, which BMO says could be as high as $140,000 for a child born in 2013. The data also reveal that 65% expect to retire “comfortably” when they choose to do so, and a majority plan to stop working at around age 61 — 2 years earlier than the average Baby Boomer. “The combination of less savings for retirement, less access to company pensions, a planned earlier retirement age, ongoing education savings, and increased costs for basics such as food and housing leave Generation X and Generation Y with a much lower probability of achieving their retirement goals than the Baby Boomer generation before them,” the BMO report cautions. Maclean’s On Campus | Full Report

UTSC launches redesigned website

The University of Toronto Scarborough has launched a redesigned website that offers an improved user experience for prospective students and those who want to learn more about UTSC’s programs, people and campus. The new site features a responsive design that adapts for mobile, tablet and desktop users, larger photographs and seamlessly-integrated rich media content. “Our goal is to provide a rich experience on what has become our primary communication platform,” says UTSC Chief Administrative Officer Andrew Arifuzzaman. “We set out to enhance the site in several key areas: content, quality, usability and visual design so we can best represent the vibrant nature of our campus.” UTSC also switched to a new content management system, Drupal, with its new site. UTSC News Release

McGill student society weighing options following uSherbrooke disaffiliation with TACEQ

The Student Society of McGill University (SSMU) is considering its future following the decision by the graduate association of the Université de Sherbrooke to disaffiliate from the Table de concertation étudiante du Québec (TACEQ), reports the Montreal Gazette. “We might consider holding a referendum on the issue ourselves,” says SSMU VP External Samuel Harris. He adds that SSMU spends about $17,000 a year to belong to TACEQ. According to the Gazette, there have also been frustrations in getting TACEQ to translate documents to English. “We just have to think about what all of this means for us in the long term,” says Harris. “We still want to be actively involved in the Quebec higher education scene.” Montreal Gazette

AFN and federal government announce changes to FNEA

Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, joined Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other dignitaries last week to announce changes to the proposed First Nations Education Act. Now called the First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act, the new approach will adopt the recommendations made by the AFN during the Special Chiefs Assembly, including recognition of First Nations and Treaty rights, sustainable funding, reciprocal accountability with no unilateral federal oversight, and meaningful dialogue and consultation going forward. As part of the agreement, Canada will commit an additional $1.9 billion for Aboriginal education – $1.25 billion over 3 years for First Nations schools across Canada, with annual increases of 4.5% pledged, $500 million over 7 years for infrastructure, and $160 million for an implementation fund. The plan calls for minimum education standards, comparable to provincial standards off-reserve, and allows for the development of First Nation education authorities, while incorporating language and culture programming. CBC | AFN News Release | PMO News Release

Centennial student behind @SochiProblems

Centennial College student Alexander Broad says he’s behind the @SochiProblems Twitter account, which has gone viral since the Olympic athletes began arriving in Sochi. Broad says he came up with the idea in class on a slow news day, and then launched the account on February 4. The account, which has grown to more than 300,000 followers, highlights the many problems in Sochi, including “subpar accommodations, unfinished venues and what appeared to be dirty drinking water at a hotel in Sochi.” "It doesn't seem real to me," says Broad of the increase in followers. “You never see parody Twitter accounts jump thousands in days." ABC News

Creativity as academic discipline

Wellesley College writer in residence Laura Pappano reports in the New York Times that PSE institutions are placing a greater emphasis on creativity as a “prized and teachable skill.” Buffalo State at SUNY is planning a PhD and already offers a master’s degree and undergraduate minor in creative studies. Saybrook University in San Francisco has a master’s and certificate, and added a specialization to its psychology PhD in 2011, and St Andrews University in North Carolina has added a minor. Pappano says that while traditional academic disciplines still matter, “educators are talking more and more about ‘process skills,’ strategies to reframe challenges and extrapolate and transform information, and to accept and deal with ambiguity.” Buffalo State Professor Roger L Firestien says “the point of creative studies is to learn techniques to make creativity happen instead of waiting for it to bubble up. A muse doesn’t have to hit you.” New York Times