Top Ten

June 9, 2016

UCalgary pays $20 K in ransom after cyber attack

The University of Calgary paid a $20 K ransom in response to a recent cyberattack, reports CBC. According to a UCalgary release, the university received a message demanding money after hackers managed to install “ransomware” that encrypted and locked UCalgary staff and faculty emails. In a speech made Tuesday, UCalgary's Vice-President of Finances and Services Linda Dalgetty said that the school decided to pay the ransom “because we do world-class research here … and we did not want to be in a position that we had exhausted the option to get people's potential life work back in the future.” The University has reportedly consulted with cyber experts in addition to contacting the Calgary Police Service to investigate the attack. CBC reports that the school has successfully decrypted the malware and is in the process of reopening the locked files. CBC (1) | CBC (2) | National Post | UCalgary

UBC releases draft sexual violence policy, faces criticism for lack of clarity

A former UBC student who filed a human-rights complaint over the school’s response to a reported sexual assault says that the school’s new draft sexual assault policy fails to address her concerns, reports the Canadian Press. The draft reportedly does not include any new standalone policy for reporting sexual assaults, and former UBC student Glynnis Kirchmeier argues that it does not include a clear outline for what will happen after a student reports a sexual assault. “It’s one of the ways you can reduce trauma,” she says. “This policy does not tell a victim what is going to happen, and as a result it will not encourage people to report.” UBC presented the draft policy at a meeting this Tuesday and noted that it will be open for public comment and amendment in the future. Globe and Mail (CP)

Ten developments that will shape technology-enabled learning

Changing student expectations and the rise of e-portfolios are just some of the developments shaping the future of technology-enabled learning, according to Contact North | Contact Nord. The organization has released a list of the ten key developments affecting this form of learning, along with commentary on the specific role that each of these developments will play moving forward. Other developments outlined in the article include new approaches to pedagogy, governments rethinking accountability and quality, and changing forms of learning assessment. Contact North | Contact Nord

New uLethbridge grant to help train the next generation of space scientists

The University of Lethbridge’s Astronomical Instrumentation Group has received a $500 K grant from the Canadian Space Agency to train up-and-coming astronomers and engineers. The grant will be supplemented by additional supports from uLethbridge and several industrial partners, bringing the total funding to approximately $1.2 M. According to Astronomical Instrumentation Group Director David Naylor, over 90% of the funding will go towards training students while they contribute to the development of a core instrument for the space observatory SPICA. “The CSA deserves credit for providing this funding to prepare the next generation of Canadians for opportunities that are on the horizon,” said Naylor. “The students trained by FAST today will become the mission scientists of tomorrow.” uLethbridge

Is edutainment just shorthand for being an engaging instructor?

“Among the many charges lodged against the modern professoriate, one of the strangest is that we’re too entertaining,” writes Professor William Germano, before adding, “we’re not, I promise you.” Writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Germano briefly outlines the history of the term “edutainment” and the entertainment-centered learning it has come to represent. Ultimately, Germano argues that Edutainment is mostly a matter of being an engaging instructor, adding that “we struggle to modernize teaching in many ways, but one of the revolutionary techniques we might borrow from the ancients is a commitment simply to speaking well, which means listening well, too.” Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required)

NWT premier orders government offices to hire more summer students

The number of summer students hired by the Northwest Territory government is much lower this year than last, and the territory’s Premier Bob McLeod has ordered governmental departments to begin hiring more students. “The summer is not over. We are still looking to hire and we will continue to hire. We will work hard to reach last year's numbers,” stated Human Resources Minister Glen Abernathy, who added that budget cuts were not part of the reason for the drop in employed student numbers. Abernathy also explained that departments are required to have “meaningful work” available for students prior to hiring them. CBC

Campus police discuss methods for identifying threats on Social Media

Social media is a common place for students to react to and discuss threats and concerns on campus, but it also contains information that is valuable to the identification and prevention of threats on campus. Emma Pettit of the Chronicle of Higher Ed discusses the different ways that campus police have utilized computer programs and partnerships to filter through the colossal number of public posts made available each day and identify potential threats to students on their campus. “You’re talking about quite a bit of data coming in,” explains Temple University’s Executive Director of Campus-Safety Services, Charles Leone. “We still have to find out the best ways to manage that.” Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required)

$100 M Assiniboine project remains up in the air with new MB government

A change in the Manitoba government has institutions like Assiniboine College wondering how postsecondary capital projects might be affected, writes the Winnipeg Free Press. Under the previous NDP government, Assiniboine was approved for a $100 M project that would convert one of the college’s buildings into a new Centre for Health, Energy and Environment. The provincial NDP has said that the project still meets the new PC government’s criteria for return on investment through its ability to create jobs. Assiniboine President Mark Frison has expressed hope that a commitment from the federal government to cover one-third of the project’s costs will show that the “project remains a priority.” Winnipeg Free Press

Edtech is here whether we like it or not, says CV contributor

“As faculty members, if we don’t offer students a certain level of engagement with the material, it’s entirely possible that we might come to work on the first day of the semester and find nobody there to teach,” writes Professor Jonathan Rees for Chronicle Vitae. Rees lays out this warning for professors who resist changing their teaching styles to suit changing expectations from students, combined with the increasing tendency for students to leave institutions that they do not find engaging. Speaking directly to professors, Rees concludes that “it’s not that anything you’ve done before is somehow less effective, it’s that the overall environment in which you’ve been teaching has changed—both for the better and for the worse.” Chronicle Vitae

When faculty committees choose “none of the above” for their next hire

“When every faculty opening is precious, the stakes can be dysfunctionally high,” writes David Perlmutter for Chronicle Vitae, which is why today’s faculty searches will often fail to find a “suitable” candidate. With the increasing supply of qualified candidates and a decreasing demand for tenure-track professors comes a rise in hiring expectations, the author adds, leading to the present-day situation in which “one new assistant professor is expected to possess multiple attributes that in the past might have been achieved with several hires.” Other common factors behind failed faculty searches include the sudden loss of funding, committees reaching a political deadlock, and being turned down by a top-choice candidate. Chronicle Vitae