Top Ten

August 15, 2014

Ebola affects university programs

As the Ebola outbreak in West Africa continues, some American universities have suspended programs that involve students travelling to affected areas such as Guinea, Ghana, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and New York University have both cancelled fall programs, but hope to continue with winter/spring programs. Harvard University is cautioning anyone who has travelled to affected areas recently against returning to campus without first seeking medical advice. Researchers affiliated with the University of Manitoba and the Public Health Agency of Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) in Winnipeg have been working on an Ebola vaccine and treatment since 2001. In 2005, researchers made a breakthrough in the development of a vaccine that showed success with monkeys. On Monday, the World Health Organization ruled that it was ethical to deploy an untested vaccine given the unprecedented scope of the outbreak. Medical microbiology professor Keith Fowke noted that Ebola is hard to study, as it is so highly infectious. “As with all viruses, Ebola mutates, so developing a vaccine is difficult. It’s hard to keep pace with a changing virus,” he said. USA Today | uManitoba News | Toronto Star

CBU reveals new brand: HAPPEN

Cape Breton University has unveiled its new brand, HAPPEN. Guided by the defining statement “at CBU, you'll discover the effect you're going to have in the world,” HAPPEN promises students, staff, and the wider community that “CBU is committed to building a flourishing, entrepreneurial, multi-cultural and sustainable global university dedicated to students and community through teaching excellence and world changing research.” The rejuvenated brand is meant to better align with CBU’s key strategic priorities, and was developed during a year-long process of interviews, focus groups, town hall meetings, and workshops. The refreshed brand includes a new colour palette combining hues of orange and green with blues and yellows, and will be fully rolled out visually in the coming months both at CBU and through other forms of local advertising. CBU News Release | Brand Website | Chronicle-Herald

UBC invests in campus safety features

The University of British Columbia has announced a $750,000 investment in new campus safety features at its Vancouver Point Grey campus. The funding will go toward improved lighting, strengthening the campus Safewalk program, additional coverage of security bike patrols, and the development of new communication features for the Mobile UBC app. The funding comes following the recommendations of a campus safety working group that was put in place in response to a series of sexual assaults in 2013. “UBC’s Vancouver campus has been and continues to be a very safe place to live, work and study and we are committed to tangible, practical safety improvements. We also agree with safety experts that ultimately the best crime prevention is a caring, connected, and respectful community. This is why we’ll also be focusing over the long term on education and community-building initiatives,” said UBC President Arvind Gupta. These initiatives will include educational and awareness-building activities, tracking and monitoring of safety data, and improved coordination between communications, police, and victim support services. UBC News Release

CASA submits pre-budget recommendations to federal government

The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) has submitted its pre-budget recommendations to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance. CASA’s submission emphasizes its view that the high cost of education is delaying young people from achieving financial independence. It calls for changes to Canadian student financial assistance programs including the removal of employment penalties for working students and the cessation of the Canada Student Loans Program parental contributions policy. CASA further urges the government to increase the Canada Student Loans Program’s weekly limit from $210 to $245. CASA also recommends that the government increase the value of Canada Student Grants by 9.4% to account for inflation, and suggests the creation of a specific grant fund for students with high financial need. Finally, CASA calls on the government to do more to support mature learners wishing to retrain or pursue further education. CASA News Release | CASA Pre-Budget Submission

Journalism schools respond to industry changes

Upheaval in the news/media sector has led to changes in the way PSE institutions deliver journalism programs, and to changes in the content of courses in these programs. In the first of a 3-part series on changes occurring within journalism programs, Carleton University’s head of journalism, Susan Harada, discusses some of the content that journalism schools are adding to programs and courses. A survey issued to the academic leaders of journalism programs in Canada reveals that the majority of programs (41%) are adding content to existing courses, and 33% are designing new degree programs entirely. Blogging, ethics, and digital skills are most cited as having been added to courses, with digital photography, audio production, and web video topping the list of added digital skills. Harada also notes that survey respondents spoke of the removal of divisions between forms of media such as print, broadcast, and online. “Silos are coming down,” she says, as journalism students increasingly learn skills that are applied across multiple platforms, enhancing flexibility and adaptability among students. Canadian Journalism Project

La Cité Collégiale SMA emphasizes francophone education and labour market integration

Ontario has released the strategic mandate agreement (SMA) signed between the province and La Cité Collégiale. The report identifies La Cité’s areas of differentiation as its promotion of francophone education and culture in Ontario, its production of graduates who are adept in working in both of Canada’s official languages, and its support for underrepresented student populations. La Cité is further recognized for its employment services and support programs, including labour market integration programs and employment resource centre. The SMA also notes that the college has been expanding its applied research programs and its collaboration with industry. La Cité’s support for experiential learning and student mobility programs are also identified as strengths, as well as its use of online learning tools. The agreement names as proposed areas of program growth skilled trades; health and life sciences; administration, hospitality and tourism; emergency and legal services; and social and human services. La Cité SMA

Lakehead SMA focuses on accessibility, FNMI support, and regional partnerships

The strategic mandate agreement (SMA) signed between Ontario and Lakehead University emphasizes the institution’s focus on accessibility; its support for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit learners, and its use of technology-enabled learning. The SMA highlights Lakehead’s commitment to economic development in Orillia and Thunder Bay through applied research, community collaborations, and its support for institutes and initiatives such as the Thunder Bay Regional Research Institute and the Ring of Fire development. The agreement also acknowledges the Lakehead University Centre for Analytical Services (LUCAS), which has provided 77 regional partners with access to research equipment and services. Further areas of strength include experiential learning, student/faculty ratios, and its student success facilities. Five program areas are identified in the SMA as proposed areas for growth: business, entrepreneurship, and innovation; engineering; health sciences/health and medicine; social justice/Aboriginal emphasis, and sustainability. Lakehead SMA

Branding experts consider the impact of Generation Y on marketing

The Globe and Mail has released as part of its Agenda 2020 series an interview with 2 marketing experts on the impact that Generation Y will have on marketing and branding. Both experts say that brands are becoming increasingly important, and that in the digital era it is more critical than ever that organizations and companies have an effective brand and marketing strategy. The experts agree that Generation Y typically expects more flexibility from their brands. They add that traditional modes of advertising remain important and emphasize that marketers must understand how the strengths of media such as radio fit alongside social media in an overall strategy. According to the interview, consumers have come to expect a longer-term relationship with brands that extends beyond an initial transaction. The experts say that Generation Y will expect service when they need it without being stuck in a queue; they add that automation should lead to increased personalization of services and information in the future. Globe and Mail

MIT researchers creating “YouTube for MOOCs”

Juho Kim, a PhD candidate in the User Interface Design Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is working on a project called LectureScape. Kim describes LectureScape as “an enhanced video player for educational content online, powered by data on learners’ video watching behavior.” The platform collects data on users’ consumption patterns, identifying which parts of videos are most often rewatched, skimmed, searched, or reviewed, and can also create interactive transcripts, word clouds, and summaries of content. Kim says that the platform is designed to use signals derived from viewers’ habits to help learners feel more connected to the content. LectureScape uses collected data, but is also based on research into human-computer interaction. Kim and his development team hope that the platform can help instructors improve video content for massive open online courses (MOOCs) as well as enhance the way in which the videos are presented to students. He believes that the platform could lead to more personalized video content. Kim emphasizes that LectureScape is free, and that he intends that it will stay that way. Forbes

100 years of change in college admissions applications

A student library assistant at Elon University in North Carolina recently unearthed an admissions application to the institution that dates back to 1922. After the student posted the application on Reddit, Elon’s special-collections librarian and archivist Katie Nash shared an even older application form from 1913. The 100-year-old, 2-page form is a far cry from today’s application packages, asking students to outline their knowledge of Cicero, Xenophon, and Homer, as well as their background in French Literature. The 1922 application is just one page, and moves away from antiquity toward students’ health and religious background. The 1922 form also asks students what sports they play and what daily and county newspapers they read. Nash also provided more recent application forms, which by the 1970s began to resemble more closely today’s version. The applications provide insight into the history of the institution and its aspirations, as well as trends in more general attitudes toward education in the US. The Chronicle of Higher Education