Top Ten

July 9, 2014

eCampus Manitoba officially launches

Manitoba has announced the launch of eCampus Manitoba, a new website that offers students access to hundreds of online courses. 7 institutions—Assiniboine Community College, Brandon University, Red River College, the University of Winnipeg, Université de Saint-Boniface, University College of the North, and the University of Manitoba—have partnered with the provincial government to create the website, which hosts 520 unique courses and over 1,100 course equivalencies. Students can also receive live advice via a virtual help desk. “eCampus Manitoba ensures post-secondary students across the province have access to a wide range of high-quality, online learning opportunities to put students on the right track to get the education they need to get a good job, here in Manitoba,” said Education and Advanced Learning Minister James Allum. Manitoba News Release

Corinthian selling off Everest College campuses in Ontario

US-based for-profit education provider Corinthian College will sell off all 14 Ontario locations of Everest College. Corinthian is reeling after the US Department of Education put a hold on the college’s financial aid payments. Corinthian spokesperson Kent Jenkins said that the company is confident that it will be able to sell its Everest College locations and that it is working with Ontario regulators to ensure a smooth transition for students. Should Corinthian be unable to find a buyer for some locations, students attending classes at those campuses may select an alternative training completion option or receive a full refund of their fees. Everest provides careers training in business, technology, and healthcare. Toronto Star

OUSA report shows how Ontario students pay for their education

New data released by the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) reveal how students pay for their education in the province. OUSA’s analysis of 9,000 survey responses shows that 60% of Ontario students applied for government financial assistance, and that 84% of applicants qualified for funding from the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP). However, two-thirds of respondents remained concerned that they would not be able to afford to complete their education and 4 in 5 said they were worried about paying off their student debt. 16% of students applied for a private bank loan or line of credit, with 60% of those saying that that they did so because existing government aid was insufficient to meet their financial need. The study also found that students in financial need were far less likely to receive merit-based scholarships than their more affluent peers, leading OUSA to recommend Ontario base scholarships solely on financial need. OUSA News Release | Toronto Star | Full Report

Augustine College unincorporates but will stay open

Augustine College, a small, Christian liberal arts college in Ottawa, has moved from incorporated to unincorporated status, citing its small size and new corporation rules. The CBC reported that the move signaled that Augustine was preparing to close its doors; however, Administrator Harold Visser said that the report is inaccurate. “[Augustine] is simply moving from an incorporated to an unincorporated status for administrative reasons. There are new corporation rules coming into effect, and because of our small size, we thought it made sense to continue unincorporated,” Visser said. “We are looking forward to the start of another academic year in the fall,” he added. Augustine describes itself as “unapologetically Christian” but says it is open to non-believers as well. It graduates classes of up to 20 students per year. CBC

Hootsuite profiles Ryerson’s innovative use of social media

Social media management software provider HootSuite has profiled in its blog the innovative ways in which 3 universities, including Ryerson University, use social media. Ryerson is recognized for the effective way its social media teams make the “digital hand-off” of students between different university teams. The institution streamlined its social media strategy by forming a committee of social media practitioners, and notifies students about relevant social media accounts as they progress through the admissions funnel. The procedure saves students from a deluge of repetitive tweets, and ensures a good signal-to-noise ratio. The blog post also examines the University of Southern California’s social listening practices, which it uses to draw the interest of, engage with, and convert potential students. The blog post also highlights USC’s YouTube series Dorms, a riff on MTV’s Cribs. Ohio State University, meanwhile, effectively uses social media to engage with alumni on Facebook with timely content. HootSuite Blog

Summer jobs provide important experience even if not directly tied to desired career

Obtaining a summer job isn’t just important for students who need to pay their bills; it can also help students build a career, even if the connection isn’t immediately apparent. While students strive to find summer jobs that fit their career aspirations, Sharon Irwin-Foulon, Executive Director of Career Management and Corporate Recruiting at the Ivey Business School at Western University, says any job can be valuable so long as students can effectively communicate the skills and experience that they gained. Some employers are more interested in well-rounded candidates than those who narrowly specialize in a particular field. Experts further advised those students who are unable to find work to seek out volunteer experiences. “It’s better to do volunteer work for four weeks than to have nothing on your calendar,” said Nicholas Creschner, a Montreal-based human resources Director. StarPhoenix (CP)

US Dept of Education releases stats on graduate employment rates

The US National Center for Education Statistics released on Tuesday a new report that profiles how the class of 2008 has fared on the job market, 4 years after graduation. The data, collected in 2012, show that 83% of those graduates who were not enrolled in an additional PSE program were employed; of those, 85% worked full-time, 8% worked in one part-time job, and 8% had multiple jobs. The employment rate was highest among engineering and engineering technology graduates, of whom 89.6% reported being employed. Health care graduates also reported high rates of employment, with 87.1% identifying themselves as being employed. The employment rate was lowest among social sciences and humanities graduates, who reported employment rates of 78.2% and 78.4%, respectively. Those respondents who were employed full-time earned an average of $52,500; this figure was driven up by science, technology, engineering, and math graduates, who earned average salaries of $65,000. Results of a similar study on Canadian grads were released earlier this month. Toronto Star | NCES Summary

Prof creates, tears down MOOC as pedagogical commentary on data privacy

Students were puzzled when a massive open online course (MOOC) in which they had enrolled mysteriously vanished from Coursera. The course, “Teaching Goes Massive: New Skills Required” sought to educate individuals who felt “threatened,” “lost,” or “unprepared” for the rising popularity of MOOCs in PSE. However, the course’s content disappeared in its second week. The class forum has since been restored, but students were bewildered and their requests for information only led to further confusion. The course’s Swiss developer, Paul-Olivier Dehaye, compounded the mystery by posting cryptic tweets vaguely alluding to an experiment. He claimed to have been removed from the course, but a Coursera spokesperson said he removed the content himself. On Tuesday morning, Dehaye made a post—since deleted—on a collaborative text editing website saying that the entire affair was intended to “confuse everyone, including the university, Coursera, the Twitter world, as many journalists as I can, and the course participants,” apparently to raise awareness of how MOOC providers could use course participant data; he also made reference to Facebook's recent big data experiment. Inside Higher Ed | The Chronicle of Higher Education

US PSE institutions work to avoid "summer melt"

US universities are developing new strategies to deal with “summer melt,” the time in the summer when high school graduates no longer have access to their previous schools’ resources, but have not been integrated into a new campus community. “You get the acceptance letter and start the celebration. They don’t realize all the other steps,” said Shauna Cunningham, a high school guidance counsellor in St Louis. As many as 20% of recent high school students in some major US cities abandon their PSE plans in the summer after graduation; the rate climbs to as high as 40% for prospective community college students. Some school districts use text messages as a low-cost option to keep students on track and ensure that they take the necessary steps to begin studies in the fall. Other school districts offer drop-in counselling centres that guide students through a maze of financial aid applications, housing contracts, and other enrolment obligations.Victoria Times Colonist (AP)

Is email on the way out?

Following the introduction of the Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), some are wondering whether or not we are in the last days of e-mail. An article in the Globe and Mail makes the case that for many people, this would be a welcome change. According to one technology research firm, 108.7 billion emails are sent and received around the world every day, mostly from business accounts. Data show that employees spend on average 40% of their time dealing with internal email, often at the cost of productivity on more important tasks. As a result, some organizations are turning to alternatives such as Twitter or instant-messaging apps for internal communications. Some companies are also considering platforms for external communications that better engage readers who want to be entertained as well as informed, as well as having the potential to go viral. The Globe and Mail