Top Ten

May 14, 2014

Arrest made following Durham/UOIT lockdown

Police have arrested a 21-year-old man following an incident that shut down the joint campus of Durham College and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology Oshawa for several hours on Friday. The man allegedly ambushed his ex-girlfriend in the Durham parking lot. Witnesses say the man forced the woman into his vehicle. The victim and the accused were later intercepted at a Scarborough motel. The woman was not physically harmed during the incident. The man has been charged with forcible confinement and kidnapping and may face further charges of mischief under $5,000, possession of stolen property, and 3 counts of breaching probation. Initial reports had suggested that the man was armed, prompting the lockdown; however, police say they did not find any weapons during the arrest. Toronto Star | CTV

uManitoba planning to increase grad students’ continuing fees

Graduate students at the University of Manitoba are concerned about a proposal to increase their fees by 330%. The proposed increase would apply to the “continuing fee” paid by graduate students following their first year; currently, the fee is $700. Dean of Graduate Studies Jay Doering pointed out that uManitoba is the least expensive place to pursue a master’s and the second least expensive place to get a PhD out of the U15 group of Canadian research intensive universities, and will remain so after the increase. In the proposal submitted to the uManitoba Graduate Students’ Association (UMGSA) and posted to UMGSA’s Facebook page, the University said that the current level of the continuing fee “does not reflect the costs associated with graduate students in the ‘continuing’ category of their program” and that the low fee hinders the university’s ability to provide competitive levels of financial support. UMGSA President Laura Remple, however, argued that the low fee helps uManitoba attract students looking for a flexible education. At Western University, graduate students recently petitioned the university to cut “post-residency” fees following the completion of coursework. WesternU students pay full tuition for the duration of their programs. CBC | CJOB | London Free Press

Postscript: May 15, 2014

The Government of Manitoba has rejected the University of Manitoba’s proposal to increase its graduate students’ continuing fees by over 300%. Education and Advanced Learning Minister James Allum told uManitoba to withdraw its proposal, describing it as “contrary to our commitment to an accessible and affordable post-secondary system.” He suggested that student reaction to the proposal indicated a need for further dialogue, and advised uManitoba to consult further with its students. The Manitoba government has previously denied attempts by the university to increase graduate student fees, most recently in 2010. Winnipeg Free Press

Canadian universities work with India on Water for Health project

A joint initiative between Canadian universities and the Government of India will help provide people in need with safe drinking water. The $3-million Water for Health initiative brings together India’s Department of Biotechnology and IC-IMPACTS, a Canada–India Research Centre of Excellence. The University of Alberta will play a critical role researching management practices for safe drinking water, including quality monitoring and finding affordable treatment solutions. The University of British Columbia, meanwhile, will focus on sustainable infrastructure and the University of Toronto will tackle public health. “We have a common goal, a common passion to make a big difference in Canada and India,” said uAlberta professor Sushanta Mitra. It is hoped that the research will benefit not only India but also the 5 million people in Canada who do not have access to safe drinking water. uAlberta News

Georgian paramedic program goes digital

Georgian College’s paramedic program is going paperless this September. Instead of textbooks, students will come to class with iPad minis loaded with eBooks. The initiative continues Georgian’s ongoing green commitment to reducing paper wherever possible. Everything from student competencies to mock patient reports are tracked or performed digitally at the college. “My students submit their essays digitally through Turnitin, I mark them using Word or Adobe PDF review functions and return them via email,” said one professor. Program Co-ordinator Randi McDermott cited the convenience of the iPad compared to traditional textbooks. “Students can carry all of their books, notes, articles and apps in one device,” McDermott said. “Another advantage to eBooks is the ability to highlight text, annotate and rapidly search for information without the cumbersome exercise of flipping pages.” Tablet purchases for higher ed have helped drive overall adoption; however, research has found that some students still view them as luxury devices. Georgian News

uToronto hosts first national co-curricular record summit

The University of Toronto recently hosted the first national summit devoted to Co-Curricular Records or Transcripts (CCR/T). As the popularity of CCR/Ts continues to grow, educators and those involved in the development and/or validation of CCR/Ts wish to ensure the successful coordination and recognition of records; the majority of attendees agreed that national guidelines and principles are necessary. Summit participants also exchanged best practices related to the development of CCR/Ts. In the last several years, institutions have rapidly begun to develop CCR/Ts, allowing students to document their activities outside the classroom. uToronto currently includes over 1,200 opportunities for students’ CCR/Ts, and plans to increase that number to 4,000 by this fall. uToronto News

Historian donates Franco-Ontarian history archive to Laurentian

Historian Gaétan Gervais has donated his personal archive of more than 50 years of Franco-Ontarian heritage to Laurentian University. The collection encompasses the years between 1950 and 2000. Gervais, an emeritus professor at Laurentian, said that he hopes “to convey to future generations some sense of the setbacks and successes that marked an important period for Ontario’s Francophones in modern times.” The archive will add to the holdings of organizations and individuals throughout northern Ontario and become part of the 7 searchable special collections held at the JN-Desmarais Library at Laurentian. “To archive more than 400 boxes of this valuable collection donated by Gaétan Gervais adds tremendous wealth that is unique to French Ontario to our holdings,” said Laurentian President Dominic Giroux. Laurentian News

CBU launches $2-million clean mining research program

Cape Breton University is launching a 5-year, $2-million Green Mining Technologies Research Program, in partnership with Yava Technologies Inc. The new program will focus on developing innovative, economical, and sustainable approaches to conventional mining practices to reduce environmental challenges. Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation (ECBC) has also committed a further $500,000 to the project for the purchase of critical specialty equipment for the commercialization of the technology. “It is imperative that we continue to work together on programs such as this. Only through collaborative efforts will we succeed in finding the numerous opportunities for innovation and ingenuity in Canada’s future,” said CBU President David Wheeler. Primary research and development will take place in CBU’s Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment. CBU News Release

EU launches U-Multirank university rating system

The U-Multirank, an EU-funded university ranking system, was officially launched in Brussels yesterday. The system assesses over 850 PSE institutions around the world on 5 indicators: research, teaching, international orientation, success in knowledge transfer via partnerships with business and startups, and regional involvement. Unlike other major ranking schemes, U-Multirank does not produce a single table of institutions; rather, users personalize the ranking based on their priorities. The tool takes into account feedback from 60,000 students, over 1,000 faculties, and 5,000 study programs from 70 countries. Each institution is marked on a range of activities and graded. U-Multirank is intended to help students make informed decisions about their education, but some EU politicians and university leaders have criticized the initiative. The League of European Research Universities, which represents 21 research-intensive universities, withdrew its support of the project citing “serious concerns.” However, others are hopeful that the tool will help draw attention to universities that have been overlooked under existing ranking systems. Times Higher Education | U-Multirank

MOOCs have only begun to disrupt higher ed

In an article for the Boston Globe, 2 researchers say that we have only just seen the beginning of the effect MOOCs will have on education. MOOCs, they say, have already revealed much by forcing PSE institutions to offer aggressive discounts. Moreover, MOOCs have challenged preconceived notions of the college classroom, for students and teachers. But, the authors believe there are greater changes in store. They predict that MOOCs will move away from their “massive” and “open” roots as companies like Udacity and Coursera try to establish more sustainable business models. As this occurs, the challenge to established institutions will become more significant. MOOC providers are well-poised to capture a massive market of non-consumers of traditional education by building curricula targeted at employer-identified skills gaps. Traditional colleges, the authors say, must clarify their value and will likely have to scale back their offerings, with far-reaching implications on how they operate. Boston Globe

STEM students perform better in classes that use active learning methods

A new study by researchers at the University of Washington and University of Maine has determined that students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) classes that use active learning perform better on examinations than do students in lecture-only classes. The report “Active Learning Increases Student Performance in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics” is a meta-analysis of 225 previous studies comparing student outcomes in STEM courses that use different instruction methods. Students in classes that used various forms of active learning scored an average of 6% higher on exams than did students in lecture-only courses. Students in lecture-only classes were also more likely to fail the class than students in active-learning classes. "The data suggest that STEM instructors may begin to question the continued use of traditional lecturing in everyday practice," states the report. Critics of the report suggest it creates “false polarizations” between instructors who only lecture and those who use various forms or combinations of active learning with lectures, when in fact very few instructors rely solely on lecturing. Inside Higher Ed | The Chronicle of Higher Education