Top Ten

June 23, 2014

MB creates coordinated research funding organization

Manitoba has announced it will create a new research funding organization, Research Manitoba (RM), which will consolidate existing funding sources into one coordinated body. RM will incorporate the Manitoba Health Research Council, the Manitoba Research and Innovation Fund, the Health Research Initiative, and the Manitoba Centres of Excellence Fund. The province has committed $17 million in funding to RM for 2014-15. University of Manitoba’s Brian Postl has been chosen as the first Chair of RM; Postl currently serves as Dean of Medicine and Dean & Vice-Provost (Health Sciences) at uManitoba. “Changes in the research landscape are emerging; to keep ahead of these changes Research Manitoba will encourage our researchers to collaborate and engage across disciplines, faculties and institutions,” said Postl. “Part of our role will be to create strategic opportunities that allow the research community to turn their discoveries into an innovative future.” Manitoba News Release

uLethbridge and Lethbridge College share $5-million donation

Alberta agricultural entrepreneur Cor Van Raay has donated $5 million to the University of Lethbridge and Lethbridge College for the establishment of the Cor Van Raay Southern Alberta Agribusiness Program. The new program will be delivered jointly by the college and the university, and will focus on agriculture-related education opportunities in areas such as Ag-economics, business development, entrepreneurship, and agricultural innovation. The funding, to be shared between the 2 institutions, will go towards establishing endowed student awards, academic programming, an Agriculture Entrepreneur in Residence (Lethbridge College) and an Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program (uLethbridge). “Through the establishment of this program, we will be able to create student opportunities such that we educate future generations in agribusiness practices that enable them to successfully operate wide ranging businesses in the agricultural sector,” said uLethbridge President Mike Mahon. Lethbridge College News Release | uLethbridge News Release

New study finds Indigenous employees seek socially-conscious employers

According to a new study, Indigenous PSE graduates are more likely to be interested in working for an employer that “focus[es] on social, environmental and ethical responsibilities, and [that has] a corporate culture that is accepting of minorities and supports gender equality.” However, according to the report, employers may be failing to attract these potential employees by not clearly communicating their involvement in socially responsible causes. “[Companies] are recognizing there is a lot of value, but they are looking at how to portray themselves in a way that is relevant to these populations,” said one spokesperson for the research firm. Many companies have developed outreach or employee support groups, such as TD Bank’s Aboriginal Employee Circles. Companies must also be mindful of the desire of many Aboriginal employees to return to home communities for mentoring and/or volunteer work. “Being a role model is very critical to the First Nations people as they want to give back,” noted TD VP and head of the Aboriginal employee committee Monique Bateman. Globe and Mail

OCAS releases information page for immigrant applicants

The Ontario College Application Service (OCAS) has launched a new page on its applicant-facing website specifically for immigrant applicants. The new page, titled Applying to College as an Immigrant Student, is available in English and French and provides information to aid immigrants in the application process, including programs and services, what to expect during the application process, financial aid opportunities, language proficiency requirements, and links to government resources. The online resource was developed in partnership with the Colleges Ontario College Sector Immigrant Programs and Services Committee (CSIPS), and consists of information based on discussions with focus groups with immigrant students and college staff. OCAS News Release | Webpage

ACDE outlines benefits, risks of internationalization in accord

The Association of Canadian Deans of Education has published an Accord on the Internationalization of Education. It notes that while internationalization has the potential to offer enriching educational experiences for all students, improve intercultural understanding, and foster integrated learning across curricula, it involves substantial risks. These include the potential for exploitation as a result of pursuing profit maximization, systemic exclusion of some groups, (neo)colonization, personal and social disruption, and personal risk to participants. The accord notes that deans, directors, and chairs of education are well positioned to influence internationalization and must take steps to benefit students while mitigating these risks. It calls for action grouped under 4 headings—promote inclusive experiences of mobility based on sustainability; promote ethical teaching and research partnerships based on equity and reciprocity, promote curricular internationalization based on economic, social, and global justice; and establish and secure long-term institutional commitment—to ensure that teacher education aligns with a commitment to social justice and a critically informed, accountable curriculum. Full Accord

HEQCO report outlines best practices for learning outcomes

The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) has issued the results of a multi-year study into learning outcomes for degree programs in life and health sciences, physical sciences, and social sciences. According to the authors, effective assessment is a major hurdle for faculties interested in incorporating system-wide learning outcomes. The study reviewed outcomes in 2-year and 3-year diplomas as well as 4-year honours bachelor’s degrees and research-based master’s degrees and describes characteristics of desired outcomes for each type of program. The authors suggest a number of best practices for assessment, including examples of evaluation tools. They suggest that “it is critical that students are provided with a clear method for demonstrating what they have achieved,” such as learning passports, badges, or e-portfolios, to help students communicate their accomplishments to potential employers. HEQCO Summary | Full Report

uSherbrooke restructures, offers funding to promote innovation

Université de Sherbrooke has restructured the portfolio of its VP Research, which will now be called the VP Research, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship. The move is intended to help the office better reflect the institution’s emphasis on both applied research, technology transfer, and innovation. Along with this restructuring, uSherbrooke is deploying a comprehensive strategy to promote knowledge transfer and the commercialization of its research. With funding from NSERC, it will offer institutional grants to support the development of prototypes or proof-of-concepts based on the work of its researchers. uSherbrooke’s VP Research, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship emphasized that the moves will help the institution forge strong relationships with industry partners. uSherbrooke News Release (in French)

US for-profit education chain may be "unable to continue" operations

Corinthian Colleges, a for-profit education chain with 72,000 students at 107 campuses in the US, may face bankruptcy within weeks after the US Department of Education placed a 21-day hold on its ability to receive federal financial aid payments. The Department of Education said that the company “failed to address concerns about its practices, including falsifying job placement data used in marketing claims to prospective students and allegations of altered grades and attendance.” The company has already sold or shuttered 7 campuses and on Thursday issued a report to the US Securities and Exchange Commission saying that it may be “unable to continue as a going concern” if it cannot obtain alternate financing. It had asked its lenders to help them meet a $55-million shortfall for this quarter, but was refused. Should the company declare bankruptcy, it would lose access to financial aid programs and would be unlikely to recover. The fate of its students should that occur remains murky. Inside Higher Ed | The Chronicle of Higher Education | LA Times | US Department of Education News Release

Postscript: June 25, 2014

The US Department of Education and Corinthian Colleges have reached a deal that will provide the for-profit education chain with $16 million in financial aid funding and allow it to stay in operation long enough to sell off or “teach-out” its campuses. The Dept of Ed placed a hold on all financial aid payments to Corinthian due to concerns about false marketing claims and other practices. Corinthian has until July 1 to produce a complete transition plan including details of which campuses will be sold or closed. “We will continue to closely monitor the teach-out or sale of Corinthian’s campuses to ensure that students are able to finish their education without interruption and that employees experience minimal disruption to their lives,” said US Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell. Inside Higher Ed | The Chronicle of Higher Education | US Dept of Ed News Release

Disrupting the theory of disruptive innovation

New Yorker contributor and Harvard professor Jill Lepore has written a piece challenging the prevailing wisdom of what she calls the “gospel of innovation.” Lepore challenges the findings of Clayton M Christensen, author of The Innovator’s Dilemma, calling his “sources often dubious and his logic questionable.” Christensen had argued that established firms often become victims of their own success, in that because they are established leaders in the market they are reluctant to embrace new, potentially disruptive technologies. Lepore says that Christensen’s terms have become the lingua franca of business, politics, and PSE. However, she finds fault in the case studies that Christensen uses to build his argument. She notes that many of his examples of business that failed did not lose out to disruption at all, but often took over the upstarts; she also says that some of his examples of “disruptive” business were actually well-established players in their markets. She challenges Christensen’s characterizations of his findings as laws of nature, instead calling his theory of disruptive innovation “a very poor prophet.” The New Yorker | Businessweek

MOOC study suggests the “dropout” label inaccurate

A new quantitative study of student engagement in massive open online courses (MOOCs) by researchers at Stanford and Cornell Universities suggests that considering students who do not complete MOOCs as dropouts “misses key distinctions and fails to acknowledge the spectrum of learning goals that students bring to open online courses.” The authors introduce a “taxonomy of engagement” to describe the wide range of MOOC participants, based on the behaviour patterns of more than 300,000 students enrolled in Stanford-based Coursera courses. The 5 broad types of MOOC students are: Viewers, who “watch lectures, handing in few if any assignments;” Solvers, who “hand in assignments for a grade, viewing few if any lectures;” All-Rounders, who “balance the watching of lectures with the handing in of assignments;” Collectors, who “primarily download lectures;” and Bystanders, who are “registered for the course, but their total activity is below a very low threshold.” The study’s authors hope the research will change the way people think about MOOCs. The Chronicle of Higher Education | Full Study