Top Ten

October 24, 2019

McMaster receives $1M to support earth science programs, research

McMaster University has received a $1M donation to fund experiential learning and research in the earth sciences department. The D Keith MacDonald Earth Sciences Introduction to Field Methods Fund will help offset costs associated with important fieldwork opportunities, support outreach activities, and geological research. “This gift will have a significant and direct impact on our students’ learning and our researchers’ investigations,” said McMaster Acting President David Farrar. McMaster

VIU, NALMA deliver National Land Management Training for First Nations

Vancouver Island University has partnered with the National Aboriginal Lands Managers Association (NALMA) to deliver of the Professional Indigenous Lands Management Certificate program at VIU. Beginning in the summer 2020, VIU will deliver the basics of Indigenous land management, and works to ensure that Indigenous land managers gain knowledge, stay current in their field, and adhere to a professional code of ethics. Notably, the VIU program will allow Indigenous land managers to access training that was previously only available in SK and ON. “This program will open up new possibilities for collaborations between students and employees and communities,” said VIU President Deb Saucier. VIU

Performance-based funding runs the risk of "perverting the very objectives it sets out to measure"

“Performance-based funding for universities – as recently proposed by Alberta’s blue-ribbon panel report and Ontario’s newly restructured strategic mandate agreements – may at first glance appear to be a good idea; it is not,” argues Marc Spooner. For the author, collecting data on higher ed institutions may be productive in some instances, but too often becomes a high-stakes process that “runs the real danger of skewing university programs and perverting the very objectives it sets out to measure.” Analyzing the 10 metrics created to evaluate ON postsecondary institutions, Spooner concludes that “performance-based funding models lead to a narrowing of scholarship, of what is possible, both in teaching and research, and inevitably harm society by robbing it of opportunities for risky, yet innovative breakthroughs.” University Affairs

QC university library partnership provides access to digital resources

Bibliothèques universitaries québécoises has partnered with the bureau de coopération interuniversitaire to develop new platforms to provide academic resources for students and professors at 18 Québec universities. The first platform, plateforme partagée de services (PPS), will provide users access to the digital and printed collections of Québec university libraries. The second platform, Géoindex, will enable access to digital and georeferenced maps or photos. The final platform, Dataverse, is a free repository software that will accommodate sharing of small and medium sized research data sets. UQÀM

On the question of paid peer-review and academic copyright: Flaherty

Colleen Flaherty examines the challenging question of whether peer-review should be paid and copyright of academic works in light of an influx in take-down notices served by large journals and academic associations to individual authors who post their research on their personal webpages. Flaherty highlights the response of University of Toronto Professor William Cunningham to a take-down notice served to him by the APA. Cunningham wrote to the association stating that the institution must either continue to accept academics free labour and allow them to share the products of their labour, or move to a transactional relationship where academics are paid for peer-reviews. Several American studies have found that academics themselves are divided on the issue of paid peer-review, with some viewing the labour as part of tenure-track salary, and others believing such work should be paid on an individual basis. Inside Higher Ed

Langara partners with Irish university

Langara College has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin), Ireland focused on exploring collaborative potentials. Through the new partnership, Langara and TU Dublin will investigate the possibility of collaborating on academic training, the exchange of academic materials, and research endeavours. “We are so happy to partner with TU Dublin to advance innovative faculty, staff, and student engagements through initiatives such as our Collaborative On-Line International Learning (COIL) program, international summer schools, and articulations that provide more pathways for student achievement, locally and abroad,” said Langara Provost Ben Cecil. Langara

Huron re-opens newly renovated historic buildings

Huron University College has officially reopened two of the institution’s oldest buildings as part of their 2019 homecoming celebrations. “Because of generous alumni, Huron is becoming increasingly able to provide students with the type of living and learning experiences that will prepare them to succeed in our growingly uncertain world,” said Huron President Barry Craig. The Apps International House, formerly called the Watson-Young House, will provide a place for international students to study and get supports. The Lucas Alumni House, formerly named the Benson House, will now house the university’s alumni association and development and marketing teams. Huron | London Free Press

Higher ed institutions switching LMS providers less often

“Institutions aren’t switching learning management systems as often as they used to,” writes Lindsay McKenzie, and when higher ed institutions do switch LMS providers, it is often due to frustration with existing systems, or financial incentives to switch providers. However, the author notes that “the decision to change LMS provider is not taken lightly at any institution.” Evaluating an LMS provider is a complex and time-consuming process, and so if LMS providers want to retain old or gain new customers, they need to be increasingly attuned to the rapidly changing and diverse needs of higher ed institutions. Inside Higher Ed

ON postsecondary students push back against OSAP cuts

CBC reports that Ontario postsecondary students are continuing to struggle with the consequences of the provincial government’s decision to change funding to the Ontario Student Assistance Program last June. Students from multiple institutions told CBC that the cutbacks have impacted their mental wellness and academic success as they have been forced to seek out other means to sustain themselves and pay tuition. “These cuts are absolutely unacceptable and there's a prevalent mood of anger that exists within the student body," said Hermes Azam, a Ryerson University student who founded the Ryerson’s Student Strike campaign. CBC

Study on online learning finds growth in enrolment, experimentation with credentials and OERs

A recent report on online learning at over 160 Canadian colleges and universities conducted by the Canadian Digital Learning Research Association / Association canadienne de recherche sur la formation en ligne has found that online learning, as well as blended/hybrid learning, has continued to grow on campus. The study also found that the postsecondary institutions have been experimenting with the use of Open Educational Resources and the implementation of alternative credentials. The National Online and Digital Learning Survey was conducted in early 2019 with 164 public postsecondary institutions. Contact North | Contact Nord | Results