Top Ten

July 11, 2017

UAlberta partners with Google AI division on research hub

A research division of Google focused on artificial intelligence announced last week that it will set up its first international research lab in downtown Edmonton in partnership with the University of Alberta. The 10-person lab will reportedly be headed by UAlberta AI experts Rich Sutton, Michael Bowling, and Patrick Pilarski. “This is a huge reputational win for the University of Alberta,” said UAlberta Dean of Science Jonathan Schaeffer. “We’ve been one of the best AI research centres in the world for more than 10 years. The academic world knows this, but the business community doesn’t. The DeepMind announcement puts us on the map in a big way.” Edmonton Journal | CBC | UAlberta | Globe and Mail | DeepMind

Review finds MUN board well-governed, issues recommendations for greater accountability

A review of Memorial University’s board of regents has found the group “well-governed” and “very committed” in response to allegations of bullying and harassment. Student representative Brittany Lennox initially made the allegations after resigning from her position in fall 2016, telling CBC that the board was “completely untransparent” about how it spends public dollars. The author of the recent report, Harriet Lewis, noted that more can be done to “foster a more inclusive and accountable board culture” and issued 32 recommendations to this effect. Lewis added, however, that the board was “led by a highly professional and dedicated chair” and suggested that the culture “of peer review and constant intellectual challenge ... may be felt as intimidating, particularly for an undergraduate student.” CBC | MUN

UWaterloo considers standardized student course-evaluation system

The University of Waterloo will decide later this year whether a new, standardized system for course evaluations can give students a voice in judging teaching quality while addressing faculty concerns about bias, reports Simona Chiose for the Globe and Mail. UWaterloo has reportedly been studying how to consolidate its diverse course evaluations over six faculties since 2014. If the new system is approved by the school’s senate, all students would see the same fundamental questions. The new system would also give departments the ability to design a secondary part to the survey. The school’s faculty association and some departments have argued that student evaluations suffer from deep-seated bias—particularly against women and marginalized groups. Students, however, argue that linking student opinions to merit pay increases is the only incentive for universities and professors to pay as much attention to teaching as to research. Globe and Mail

KPU takes part in “outside-the-box” prison exchange program

Criminology students at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and some of those incarcerated at Kwìkwèxwelhp Healing Village in Harrison Mills are taking part in an “outside-the-box” prison exchange program. The program sees 13 KPU students enter the prison to study with 13 incarcerated students. “Giving inside students credit puts them on more equal footing with their outside counterparts and imbues the program with a particularly powerful impact,” said KPU Arts Faculty Associate Dean Wade Deisman. “Against the prison setting as the backdrop, and with prisoners as participants in the dialogue, issues of crime and social justice take on a whole new gravity and meaning.” The course focus and program were developed through consultation with Elders at Kwìkwèxwelhp and the Sts’ailes First Nations. NationTalk

New pilot project encourages faculty members to go beyond the textbook

The University of Calgary’s Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning is piloting a new Open Educational Resources project to help reduce textbook costs for students. The Open Educational Resources (OER) Pilot Project aims to provide institutional infrastructure that will lead more professors to adopt or adapt OERs for their own courses in order to create the best possible learning resources for students at a low cost. “Not only would OERs save students money, but unlike textbooks, they have the ability to be updated more regularly and evolve as science, policy, and practices change,” explained Tatum Priyambada Mitra, the Graduate Students’ Association representative for the project. “We may not be the first university to consider OER as resources, but we can build on the work already out there.” UCalgary

More training, support needed for deans to enact institutional transformation

“In the current Rubik’s Cube that is the contemporary university, the people we see as the crucial linchpins for transformation are the deans,” write David English and Rob Kramer for Chronicle Vitae. Kramer and English highlight how deans are uniquely positioned in the university, but are rarely offered the training, professional development, and support needed to thrive in the position. To this end, the authors reflect on a program that they implemented at their institution that tested what forms of training, coaching, and other initiatives can help deans in their roles, and explain how to implement these programs on a campus. Chronicle Vitae

Loyalist introduces new Radiation Safety program in Port Hope

Loyalist College has announced that it is launching a new, one-year Radiation Safety certificate program in Port Hope, Ontario this September. The program is reportedly designed for those who are interested in working as Radiation Safety personnel within nuclear facilities and organizations. “Understanding the regulations that govern nuclear facilities and techniques for ensuring safety are important components of the program,” explained Loyalist College President and CEO Ann Marie Vaughan. “Students will gain the knowledge and skills to play an important role in helping communities to redevelop remediated sites and return them to a safe state.”  Loyalist

Queen’s, Fleming sign degree pathway agreement

Fleming College and Queen’s University have signed the first degree pathway agreement between the schools. The agreement will allow eligible graduates of Fleming’s Pre-Health Sciences Pathway to Advanced Diplomas and Degrees certificate program to pursue a Bachelor of Health Sciences Degree (Honours) at Queen’s. “This is a groundbreaking agreement for Fleming College, and it is a definite advantage for our graduates,” said Sandra Dupret, dean of the School of General Arts and Sciences at Fleming. Michael Adams, Director of the Bachelor of Health Sciences program at Queen’s, added that “Queen’s University’s Bachelor of Health Sciences program is pleased to welcome Fleming College graduates who are ready to pursue an advanced degree in health, and want to do so through a state-of-the-art, customizable, and flexible online program.” Fleming

UK admissions officers say “Google it” mentality impacts students’ ability to transition to PSE

Nearly half of UK admissions officers believe that direct-entry students are not prepared for the transition to university, according to the 2017 Survey of University Admissions Officers. When asked to choose from a list of 15 factors which ones they thought had the most impact on a student’s ability to succeed in PSE, roughly nine in 10 of university admissions officers cited “not being able to think and learn independently” (89%). This was followed by “unable to manage their own time or workloads” (88%). The admissions officers gave these responses in spite of the fact that nearly three quarters believed that students “put more effort in to considering their university choices before they apply than they did in the past.” 52% of respondents felt that students were “unable to remember facts, possessing a ‘Google It’ mentality.” Times Higher Education

CICan launches Natural Resources Internship program

Colleges and Institutes Canada has announced the launch of its new Natural Resources Internship program, which aims to help graduates gain relevant STEM-related work experience in the natural resources sectors. The new program will provide employers with wage subsidies of up to $15K to hire recent graduates for six to 12 months. The program is offered with the financial support of Natural Resources Canada as part of the national Green Jobs - Science and Technology Internship Program. “The Natural Resources Internship program will respond to the growing demand from new graduates as well as employers for internships that are focused on improving environmental and economic outcomes in Canada,” said Denise Amyot, President and CEO, Colleges and Institutes Canada. CICan