Top Ten

March 26, 2014

Sask PSE institutions get $4.4 million for mining research, education

The International Minerals Innovation Institute (IMII) has announced $1.1 million in funding for 2 research and development projects and $3.3 million in funding for 4 education and training projects at Cumberland College, Northlands College, Parkland College, the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology, and the University of Saskatchewan. All 6 projects are focused on safety, environment and developing specialized training for the mining industry. "We believe through initiatives like these projects, the collaborations of industry, government and postsecondary institutions are going to help us to produce real outcomes for a world-class minerals industry," says IMII Executive Director and Senior Technical Adviser Engin Ozberk. StarPhoenix

Alberta heeds parents’ calls, adds traditional methods to math curriculum

The Alberta government has decided to change its new math curriculum, requiring students to learn through more traditional methods—like memorizing multiplication tables— following concerns from parents about the proposed new “creative-math movement.”  “I’ve heard loud and clear from parents that they want more reassurance that students will be expected to recall basic math facts from memory,” says Alberta Education Minister Jeff Johnson. “We believe that we can successfully weave the memorization of fundamentals in with the development of other critical competencies such as problem solving, application and collaboration.” Math pedagogy has come under scrutiny in Alberta and the rest of the country after the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released data that revealed Ontario math scores, compared to the rest of the OECD, were beginning to slip. Manitoba has already made similar changes to its math curriculum, returning to more traditional memorization-based learning. Ontario is currently reviewing its math curriculum, but does not plan to make changes similar to Alberta and Manitoba; British Columbia is also dealing with complaints from parents about its own draft curriculum, which is being redesigned to emphasize creativity. Globe and Mail

Laurentian students vote to create new student centre

The Laurentian University Students’ General Association/Association générale des étudiant(e)s (SGA/AGÉ) undergraduate members have voted in favour of constructing a new Student Centre on the Sudbury campus, with a vote of 601 to 318. Approximately 20% of eligible students voted in the referendum held last week. The $10-million centre will be funded through a $40 incidental fee, which will be implemented next year; the fee will increase to $80 in 2015-16, and be set at $114 thereafter. The student owned and operated centre will offer social spaces for students, including a new pub/restaurant and several commercial operations, and will become a primary location for the delivery of social services on the Sudbury campus. Laurentian President Dominic Giroux says, “The new Student Centre aligns very well with the new Sudbury Campus Master Plan approved last October, as well as the $60-million investment to be made by 2016 to modernize the campus, improve food services and student residences.” SGA/AGÉ News Release

U15 joins global network of research institutions

The U15 Group of Canadian Research Intensive Universities has joined a global network of research institutions made up of the Association of American Universities (AAU), the League of European Research Universities (LERU), The Russell Group (from the UK), the China 9 grouping of leading Chinese universities (C9) and the Australian Group of Eight research-intensive universities (Go8). The Canadian consortium is now a signatory of the Hefei Statement on the Ten Characteristics of Contemporary Research Universities. The network seeks to create common metrics for research output and performance, establish a joint statement on the roles and importance of contemporary research universities, and unite established groups of research-intensive universities to better engage with the global research council. The move coincides with the Canadian government’s recently-announced investments in research, such as the $1.5-billion Canada First Research Excellence Fund. U15 News Release | Hefei Statement

Smart Decision startup creating PSE navigation tool for students

An Ontario startup, Smart Decision, is developing a website that will help students make a decision about where to attend PSE and what to study. Smart Decision Co-founder and McMaster Student Union VP Finance Jeffrey Doucet says, “Right now we are focusing on developing our application tool, and it has continued to evolve as we have worked on it. The more research we have done, the more information we stumble across that we believe is relevant to undergrad students here in the Province of Ontario.” The site will include aggregated information on program costs, job prospects, and salary expectations. “As these students prepare to enter the workforce or apply to grad school, our social profile will summarize their accomplishments throughout their undergraduate experience, in an easy to access and exportable resume tool,” Doucet explains. The startup is currently gathering information about the needs and experience of undergraduate students. Smart Decision Blog

McGill feminist group launches creative advocacy campaign

A McGill University Faculty of Law feminist group has launched a photo campaign that gets people thinking about what it means to be a feminist by “showcasing that feminism comes in all genders, races, and backgrounds.” The campaign, on Tumblr, features photos of various people with captions such as “I am a male, and I am feminist,” “I am going to take my husband’s name, and I am feminist,” and “I am one of the boys, and I am feminist.” "We want to reclaim the term, deconstruct the misconceptions attached to the term feminist, and demonstrate that feminism is something that is inclusive and does represent different voices," says Feminist Collective member Aishah Nofal. Huffington Post

Vancouver startup “HelpHub” launches online tutoring service

A Vancouver-based entrepreneur has launched HelpHub, an online tutoring service that uses innovative “tricks” to get students comfortable with online tutors. The system alerts online tutors when students are signed into the service, so that they can reach out to the student. HelpHub Founder Miguel Kudry says he was surprised to find that tutors gained a large amount of traction by reaching out to these browsing students. Tutoring takes place either on a chat window, or via video conference, billed by the minute. Tutors can set their own rates, and HelpHub charges a 5% commission. The startup has so far attracted “a few thousand” tutors and students; Kudry says he has raised $250,000 in seed money. Globe and Mail

Report suggests US student aid impedes competency-based education

A report out of North Carolina State University suggests that the current federal student aid system hinders competency-based education (CBE) because it has been designed to “fund PSE education occurring within structured, discrete time periods.” Education Professor and report author Stephen R Porter writes that “because CBE depends on demonstrating learning, rather than time, this poses problems within a time-based model of aid disbursement.” He adds that the US government requires CBE programs to translate competencies back to credit hours in order for their students to receive federal student aid. Porter says institutions should engage in “thoughtful experimentation” with federal student aid that supports CBE. Full Report | Inside Higher Ed

Columbia, NYU to hold night of lectures in bars

Columbia University and New York University are sponsoring a new initiative that will see 50 academics deliver lectures at bars across Manhattan on the evening of April 29. The initiative, Raising the Bar, aims to “spread knowledge and shake the city’s nightlife culture,” explains the program website. Organizers add that the model seeks to address concerns that the “ivory tower” image of higher education pushes away many prospective students, by "embedding education as a non-threatening pop culture." The initiative is set to spread to Boston and the west coast in the coming months, and the organizers even envision things like "guerrilla lectures" in subways. The Guardian

“Hacker schools” in US helping fill IT industry needs

“Hacker schools,” private PSE institutions that specialize in teaching students how to write code, are becoming increasingly popular in the US as companies attempt to deal with a shortage of qualified employees in the computer software area. A local technology association survey found there are nearly 4,000 open positions in Georgia alone, and some industry executives say it can take 6 months to fill some top jobs. These institutions do not offer certificates or diplomas, but some, such as The Iron Yard in South Carolina, guarantee job placement in 6 months, or students get their money back; the institution says it has yet to issue a refund. Dozens of “hacker schools” are opening across the US, with a heavy concentration in high-tech markets like San Francisco, New York, and Boston. eSchool News