Top Ten

August 13, 2014

Canada commits $30 M to aerospace innovation

The federal government has announced that it will provide $30 M over 5 years to the Consortium for Aerospace Research and Innovation in Canada (CARIC). The industry-led network, which launched in April, aims to strengthen research relationships between industry, academia, and research institutes in Canada by funding collaborative aerospace projects. “The relative importance of the aerospace industry to the Canadian economy is second to none in the world. CARIC will be instrumental in pulling together the resources of the aerospace R&D community across Canada to maintain the leadership of our industry despite tough competition worldwide,” said CARIC President Denis Faubert. Canadian Minister of Industry James Moore added, “this industry-led network will enhance the global competitiveness of the Canadian aerospace industry by bringing together key players from industry and academia and funding collaborative research and technology development projects to move our industry forward.” Canada News Release

Fraser Institute report on First Nations education draws criticism

According to a new report released last week by the Fraser Institute, increased funding to First Nations schools will not fix the low graduation rates currently plaguing First Nations youth. Suggesting that the overall operating expenditure for First Nations students is actually equal to or greater than that for students attending provincial schools, the report attempts to dispel several “myths” about First Nations education. The report asserts that on-reserve schools do not meet provincial education standards and are issuing diplomas and credentials that are not recognized by many employers or higher education institutions. Critics of the report, such as Tyrone McNeil, President of the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) in BC, state that the report pan-nationalizes data and ignores evidence to the contrary. Jarrett Laughlin, a senior policy analyst with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), takes issue with almost all of the myths explored in the report. "From our perspective, it's perpetuating more of the 'myths' and not enough of the realities," he said. A statement released by the AFN addresses many of the report’s claims, stating that the “Fraser Institute report uses an inaccurate approach to identifying the core, sustainable and predictable funding that reaches First Nation schools,” and that “despite the lack of specific resources to develop educational standards, First Nation education systems have been able to build and develop local standards that support their schools and communities.” Fraser Institute News Release | Report Summary | Chilliwack Progress | National Post | The Tyee | AFN Statement | Winnipeg Free Press

COU releases report on campus sustainability initiatives

Ontario’s university campuses are taking great strides toward sustainability thanks to a wide variety of green programs and funding, according to the Council of Ontario Universities’ annual Going Green Report. 22 Ontario universities now conduct waste audits, and 21 have adopted green cleaning programs. Many institutions are also encouraging students, faculty, and staff to opt for green transportation as well; 14 universities offer bike-sharing programs and 9 have created on-campus bike lanes. 14 campuses generate their own renewable energy, and 18 have implemented green building standards. The report also highlights specific initiatives at some institutions, such as the creation of green revolving funds—funds that invest in sustainability projects that produce cost savings through conservation—at Carleton University and the University of Toronto, as well as various student engagement strategies. COU News Release | Going Green Report

First MOOC being offered at Lakeland College

Lakeland College will offer its first massive open online course (MOOC), Introduction to Mental Health, this fall. The MOOC is the first course of Lakeland’s Mental Health Practitioner certificate program. “MOOCs are an exciting new way for people to learn, and our new program’s introductory course is a great way for Lakeland to pilot something beyond our usual online programs,” says Michael Crowe, Dean of Teaching and Learning at Lakeland. “There’s more recognition now of mental health as part of the wellness spectrum. Professionals and other front line workers are looking for more knowledge and tools to help them work with people of all ages.” The course is equivalent to a 3-credit college-level course and will run from September 15 to November 21. Lakeland News

Trent professor wants to set up research lab in home

A Trent University professor is seeking permission from a local municipality to rezone a house she owns as a research lab, reports The Peterborough Examiner. Magda Havas studies the effects of electromagnetic energy on human health, particularly how Wi-Fi affects children. Havas wants to set up the lab in the house because it is sheltered from Wi-Fi and cellphone reception, which she says is not possible at the university. Trent officials have stated they do not have a problem with Havas’ plans as the research she will conduct there is separate from the research she does for Trent. Residents from the area where Havas’ planned lab is located have expressed concerns, and as the house will need to be rezoned, the local council will hear her proposal at an upcoming council meeting. The Peterborough Examiner

Ontario, Brock SMA identifies community partnerships, teaching excellence as key differentiators

Ontario has published the strategic mandate agreement (SMA) it signed with Brock University. The SMA identifies as Brock’s key areas of differentiation its undergraduate teaching, its research and graduate programs, its transdisciplinary research hubs, and its contributions to the social, economic, and cultural development of the Niagara region. The SMA cites Brock’s business and technology partnerships, health partnerships, and community partnerships as areas of institutional strength, as well as the university’s support for unique student experiences and experiential learning opportunities. The agreement identifies 4 proposed areas for growth: health and well-being, lifespan issues, sustainability and social justice, and business. Brock is also encouraged in the SMA to develop further degree pathways in business and other disciplines with Niagara College and other institutions. Brock SMA

SMA between Cambrian, Ontario emphasizes innovative teaching, graduate employment rates

The strategic mandate agreement (SMA) signed between Ontario and Cambrian College emphasizes Cambrian’s innovative use of experiential learning, collaborative approaches to teaching, and applied research opportunities, as well as Cambrian’s leadership in reaching “at-risk” learners. The SMA notes Cambrian’s strong collaborative work with employers and community partners, as well as the college’s strengths in applied research and as a critical regional employer. The province also highlighted Cambrian’s strong employment rate, as well as the fact that Cambrian graduates' rate of employment in fields related to their studies is 56.6%, the highest among all Ontario colleges. According to the SMA, Cambrian’s areas of institutional strength include its strong co-op programs, its emphasis on e-learning courses, its high rate of student satisfaction, and its first-to-second-year retention rate. Ontario also indicated its support for Cambrian’s planned Co-curricular Record Program. The SMA identifies gas technician, refrigeration and air condition systems mechanic, and residential and air conditioning systems mechanic apprenticeships as proposed areas of growth, as well as automotive service technician, power engineering, health and community services, and environmental mining. Cambrian SMA

Canadore’s support for Aboriginal education, flexible learning highlighted in SMA with province

Ontario has published the details of its strategic mandate agreement (SMA) with Canadore College. The SMA notes Canadore’s support for northern economic development via learner-focused education and applied research, as well as Canadore’s support for flexible, applied, and experiential learning. Per the SMA, Canadore’s strengths include its work with a variety of industries and its function as a technology transfer agent. Canadore’s strong relationship with First Nations communities was also identified as a strength, especially the college’s partnerships with Anishinaabe, Inuit, and Métis communities in Ontario. Ontario also remarks upon Canadore’s student success programs, including its enhanced resource centres and links to community resources. Its Department of Quality Learning, Teaching, and Innovation is also highlighted as a strength. The SMA identifies 5 programs as proposed areas for growth: aviation (non-flight), health (inter-professional education approach), Indigenous teaching and learning, heavy industry support services, and digital technology platforms. Canadore SMA

uMichigan professor’s software aims to improve traditional lectures

Some faculty at the University of Michigan have implemented a program called LectureTools, which collects data on students’ reactions to lecture material. The software is meant to solve a particular problem: while digital education initiatives are capable of collecting all manner of metrics about student participation, it is far more difficult to quantify students’ engagement in a more traditional classroom. LectureTools developer Perry Samson, a professor at uMichigan, says that “universities are doing students a disservice, because in order to make ends meet, we have these large intro courses that are just terrible environments for learning.” With LectureTools, he hopes faculty and institutions will be able to find meaningful data that can drive improvement. With the software, students can indicate confusion, respond to questions, and take marginal notes. Future versions might nudge the professor to respond mid-lecture if it detects that students are disengaged. Samson hopes to ease professors’ lives, but success still requires that students use the software, and that faculty are willing to act on the data it provides. The Chronicle of Higher Education

Active learning classrooms require deliberate design but can benefit faculty and students: article

An article published in Campus Technology outlines the basics of using technology to enhance active and collaborative learning in the classroom. The article highlights a number of institutions that have created active learning classrooms, including McGill University and Dawson College in Quebec. Most active learning classrooms feature a large, interactive display or whiteboard at each student table that is designed to be shared among students. Some classrooms rely on personal devices such as tablet computers, though some practitioners caution that these devices can stifle collaborative efforts. The piece also outlines some of the benefits of active-learning classrooms, including increased interaction between students and professors, support for different learning styles, and improved student engagement. The article advises that implementations proceed incrementally and deliberately, and that institutions offer faculty development and support to ensure success. Campus Technology