Top Ten

May 19, 2015

Feds weigh in on TWU law school

The federal government has voiced its opinion on the controversial law school at Trinity Western University, describing a decision by the Law Society of Upper Canada to refuse accreditation to graduates as "unnecessary" and "not reasonable." The Attorney General of Canada articulated this position in a factum recently filed for a judicial review of the Law Society's decision. However, the federal government maintains that it takes no position on the outcome of the case. Two lawyers representing an organization that has filed a factum in opposition to the law school said the federal government's position is "perplexing." A TWU spokesperson said the school was pleased with the government's stance. Toronto Star

NB institutions join forces to promote province as an international study destination

Educational institutions in New Brunswick are combining forces to help brand the province as an international study destination. They have formed EduNB, a group committed to building partnerships and creating new international opportunities. The group will be led by New Brunswick Community College and supported by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and the NB Department of Post-Secondary Educaton, Training and Labour. EduNB is hosting a familiarization tour to provide its members the opportunity to promote their institution to agents. Stops on the tour will include campuses of Université de Moncton, Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick, NBCC, Mount Allison University, St Thomas University, the University of New Brunswick, and New Brunswick College of Craft and Design.NBCC News Release

RRC holds sod-turning ceremony for new Skilled Trades and Technology Centre

Red River College held a sod-turning ceremony on Thursday for its new Skilled Trades and Technology Centre. The 100,000-square-foot facility will be located on RRC's Notre Dame campus. Providing space to train up to 1,000 students each year, it will increase capacity at the Notre Dame campus by more than 30%. Construction is expected to begin in earnest in June. In addition to providing space to train students in high-demand trades such as carpentry; electrical; and heating, ventilating, and air conditioning, the facility will support innovation in other related industrial sectors. MB has invested $60 M in the project. RRC News | MB News Release | Winnipeg Free Press

TD provides $1 M for National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at uManitoba

TD Bank Group has given $1 M to the University of Manitoba for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR). The funding will support student interns for the next 10 years who will work to process and digitize the materials gathered by theTruth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The NCTR has been created to house the four million historical records and more than 7,000 interviews with residential school survivors collected during the TRC. President David Barnard noted that uManitoba is “honoured to help maintain these sacred records, and is committed to ensuring the NCTR is accessed by as many people as possible.” uManitoba News

Universities create public database of terrorist, extremist attacks

Researchers from five Canadian universities have collaborated on a publicly accessible database of terrorist and extremist attacks. The Canadian Incident Database (CIDB) was developed by the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society and lists 1,815 such acts committed between 1960 and 2014. According to the database's website, it was created "to provide unclassified information to national security researchers, which can be used to identify patterns and trends in order to improve our understanding of terrorism and extremist crime in Canada." The team responsible for the database includes members from UBC, Simon Fraser University, Carleton University, the University of Waterloo, and Université de Montreal. Times-Colonist (CP) | CIDB

Dal lecture-capture pilot deemed a success

Dalhousie University's Faculty of Science has met with success in a pilot program that used capture technology to record the presenter's voice, PowerPoint slideshow, and in some cases video of entire lectures. The recordings were made available on Dal's learning management system, which allowed students to view all or part of the lecture, as well as mini-tutorials on course material. The program was seen as being especially useful for international students learning the English language, students with anxiety, and students who simply couldn't make it to class due to weather conditions. Students reported that lecture capture helped reduce stress and anxiety and helped clarify class concepts. As an unexpected bonus, the program also helped foster faculty collaboration. Dal News

Faculty must prepare themselves to help grad students find careers

An article published in University Affairs argues that universities and faculty members must do more to help graduate students develop skills that will allow them to succeed in careers outside of academia. The authors say that graduate school should foster the development of critical thinkers and problem solvers rather than focusing strictly on preparing students for academic careers. They encourage professors to instil in graduate students an understanding of the variety of career options available to them, and to provide opportunities for further career development. The article highlights programs that help faculty develop the expertise they need to better help graduate students pursue a variety of careers. Catherine Maybrey has written on the issue of graduate student employability for Rethinking Higher EdUniversity Affairs

Companies invest R&D tax dollars outside of Canada

A new book from political economist Bruce Smardon argues that companies operating in Canada are not spending enough on domestic research and development. The problem isn't new, however; Smardon traces it back as far as a policy introduced by Canada's first government. Tariff laws compelled foreign companies to start or buy branch plants north of the border, while R&D continued to be performed in the firm's home country. Smardon says R&D incentive programs must ensure that funding is used to develop products and processes in Canada, but cautions that Canada's fascination with free trade and the free market may make it difficult to introduce meaningful change. CBC

US professors say teaching-intensive tenured positions can solve crisis in the humanities

A new book from two US professors argues that the true source of the so-called "crisis" in the humanities is the "deprofessionalization" of the professoriate through the large-scale employment of non-tenure-track professors. The authors call for the conversion of many non-tenure-track positions into teaching-intensive tenure-track positions. They further recommend the elimination of as much "random, ad-hoc hiring as possible" to replace "a patronage system" for hiring with recognized standards of professionalism, including that tenure-track faculty hold a PhD. The proposal has received mixed reviews; some have pointed out that the plan is not especially novel, while others have expressed concern about the impact on long-standing part-time faculty who do not hold doctorates. Inside Higher Ed

Michigan prof develops teaching tool based on "gameful design"

A new tool developed by the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor's Barry J Fishman is designed to help faculty introduce elements of gaming into their courses. GradeCraft is a learning-management system that allows students to chart their own path through course assignments, while allowing them to fail without detrimental consequences. Students who do poorly on one assignment can choose another in an effort to redeem themselves, or elect to revise their earlier work. Unsuccessful assignments are treated as learning experiences rather than failures. Fishman says the system is designed to let students make mistakes and learn from them. Fishman says what he is doing isn't "gamification," but describes it as "gameful design"—an approach that applies positive attributes of gaming to pedagogy. The Chronicle of Higher Education