Top Ten

May 1, 2019

ON government’s performance metric “strangles good pedagogy”: Spooner

University of Regina professor Marc Spooner told CBC that the Government of Ontario’s performance-based funding model will create an “audit culture” at universities. “The problem with accountability metrics is they tend to do more harm than good,” said Spooner. “One of the things universities and university programs go through is a rigorous five-to-ten-year review. Accountability is already happening.” Performance metrics will bring standardized testing from elementary and high schools into the university sector, Spooner added, essentially stifling the university’s core mission to foster independent thought. Spooner also said that governments should not measure grade point averages, but student retention data, expenditures on services, and teaching loads. CBC (ON)

BC invests $3.26M in open educational resources

The Government of British Columbia has injected $3.26M in funding for open educational resources. A release states that open textbooks have no royalty fee structure and use an open copyright license that allows instructors to modify and adapt teaching and learning materials to fit the unique needs of their students and courses. The funding will primarily be used to support free access to an open-source homework system and zed creds—programs of study with no textbook costs—in early childhood education, STEM, trades, health, and business courses. BCCampus (BC)

UCalgary’s City Building Design Lab aims to revitalize downtown

The University of Calgary’s School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape has officially opened the City Building Design Lab. The Lab received a $1.5M investment from the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation, which will support programming at the downtown location over five years. “[S]tudents here will have direct access to industry … only a few blocks away from most of the major firms where they’ll be working,” said School Dean John Brown. Brown added that the school is arriving downtown at a time when the city is struggling economically and eager to diversify the local economy, which will provide ample opportunities for students to get involved. UCalgary | Calgary Herald (AB)

Queen's, Peking partner on dual-degree program

The Smith School of Business at Queen’s University has partnered with Peking University for an undergraduate dual-degree program. The program will see five Commerce students spend two years at Queen's, followed by two years at Peking’s Guanghua School of Management in Beijing. Graduates will earn a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Queen’s and a Bachelor of Arts in Management from Peking University. The release adds that the partnership is part of Peking University’s Future Leaders program, which also includes schools from Italy, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Brazil, Singapore, Japan, and Israel. Queen's (ON)


Proposed university a “welcome and exciting” opportunity for innovation in BC: Johnson

A recently proposed postsecondary campus in the West Shore area of BC is a “welcome and exciting opportunity” to create an innovative university, writes Geoff Johnson. The author notes, however, that a school that simply replicates existing postsecondary offerings “would be a lost opportunity.” Johnson also states that flexible admissions processes, delivery models, and credit options—in addition to modern design and architecture—could help the proposed university stand above and beyond conventional notions of postsecondary education. The author concludes by encouraging those behind the development of the university to ensure that the campus “speak(s) to the future, not the past.” Times Colonist (BC)

Simulation lab helps Dal dental students brush up on their skills

The Faculty of Dentistry at Dalhousie University has named its simulation lab after dentalcorp in an acknowledgement to the dental clinic network's $1M donation to the facility. The new lab provides students with hands-on training in crown preparation, rubber dam placement, impression taking, and provisional restorations. “dentalcorp’s four pillars — integrity, innovation, collaboration, and excellence — are foundational to our Faculty in that they guide our teaching, research, clinical care, and professional conduct,” said Ben Davis, Dean of the Faculty of Dentistry. “The dentalcorp Simulation Lab will help us to continue to prepare dentists and dental hygienists for the future so that they are both skilled and professional.” Dal (NS)

NIC receives Kwak’wala name for Port Hardy campus

North Island College has been gifted the Kwak’wala name “Mix̱alakwila” for its Port Hardy/Mount Waddington Regional campus. The campus will be formally known as the Mix̱alakwila campus or NIC’s Mix̱alakwila campus in Port Hardy. “I want to thank the Elders and community members who have honoured us with this new campus name,” said NIC President John Bowman. “NIC’s first Indigenous campus re-naming is a historic event for the college. It signals a permanent, ongoing commitment that Indigenous Education is a priority and that we value the relationships established with First Nations communities.” Nation Talk (BC)

Durham, OPG, IBB partner to meet boilermaker shortage

Durham College, Ontario Power Generation, and the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers have joined together to offer a three-week pre-apprenticeship program focused on essential boilermaker industry training. The program was developed in response to a projected shortage of boilermakers in the province and will introduce students to the boilermaker trade and provincial apprenticeship program. Durham’s Corporate Training Services will deliver the training to over 100 new pre-apprentices over the course of five intakes this spring and summer. Students will have the opportunity to work at OPG sites and learn from senior staff in the industry. Durham (ON)

Bow Valley, SaskPolytech establish multi-year skills training partnership

Bow Valley College and Saskatchewan Polytechnic have entered into a multi-year agreement to embed essential skills supports into apprenticeship, applied certificate, and certificate programs to improve learning outcomes for carpentry and electrical students. A SaskPolytech release states that the initiative aims to identify and eliminate any skills gaps that students and apprentices might have in the early stages of their programs. “Improving essential skills is one way to ensure carpentry and electrical apprentices and students will succeed in training and the workforce,” said Paul Carter, SaskPolytech’s Dean for the Schools of Construction and Transportation. “We are excited to partner with Bow Valley College on this innovative programming.” SaskPolytech (SK | AB)

Mintz: Are college students more fragile than they used to be?

Steven Mintz suggests that today’s college students are not necessarily more psychologically frail than their predecessors, but that they are dealing with novel social and emotional pressures. According to Mintz, diversity on campus has increased the likelihood of encountering classmates with dissenting or conflicting experiences of the world, while pressure from parents and market instability have contributed to a greater incidence of anxiety and depression. These contextual factors, in turn, are exacerbated by the cognitive changes that young adults undergo. Mintz adds that postsecondary institutions need to develop new strategies to help students negotiate the psychological and social challenges specific to this moment. Inside Higher Ed (International)