Top Ten

March 20, 2020

ON colleges faced with challenge of addressing applied components of curriculum

Ontario colleges are facing unique challenges in online curriculum delivery due to many programs’ hands-on approach to learning. “It’s the applied component that’s a challenge,” said Algonquin College Senior Vice-President Academic Chris Janzen. “There is nobody who is going to lose their term, but the completion of that program may be delayed.” To prepare for the possibility that regular classes may not resume soon, Colleges Ontario is conducting a sector-wide survey to see how schools may proceed. Questions include whether colleges would extend the current semester or delay the start of the summer term and what they would do about convocation. The Star (ON)

CFS releases COVID-19 toolkit for students’ unions

The Canadian Federation of Students has released a resource toolkit for students’ unions seeking to support their members. The toolkit provides information regarding ensuring a student seat on institutional planning committees, travel plans for international students, and storage options for students who may have to leave campus quickly. In addition, the release details calls to action surrounding issues like fairness for international students, access to housing, and access to employment. “Students – many of whom work precarious jobs – need the proper protections to care for themselves and for the community,” explains CFS. “In order for [COVID-19 precautions] to be most effective, we urge campuses and on-campus workplaces to consider those who will be put at risk by campus closures.” CFS (National)

Conestoga could see $2.3M from Cambridge in proposed pumping station buy-out

The City of Cambridge has announced plans to amend its 2011 cost sharing agreement with Conestoga College regarding the Blair Sanitary Sewage Pumping Station. In the original agreement, the City agreed to build the pumping station while Conestoga paid the $7.3M bill. In return, the college was provided a 0.3-metre reserve around the pumping station to maintain control of it and with the expectation that a portion of front-ended costs would be repaid to the college as area landowners used the station. However, the proposed amendment to this agreement would see the City pay the college $2.3M from the Wastewater Development Charges Reserve Fund, with the college returning the 0.3-metre reserve to the City. Cambridge Times (ON)

Medical students engage in ‘caremongering’ to support communities

Medical students across the country are helping persons struggling with the impacts of COVID-19 through ‘caremongering.’ The Canadian Federation of Medical Students, comprised of 8,000 members, have been engaging in activities to support various members of their communities, such as babysitting children of health-care workers and answering phones at 811 call centres. Association President Victor Do told CBC that he hopes the caremongering will continue past the pandemic crisis. "Whenever we're able to return to some sense of normalcy, that this notion of caremongering and the sense of spirit and support just always continues," he said. CBC (National)

SFU researchers develop game to challenge misconceptions about poverty

Researchers at Simon Fraser University have developed a game that aims to help people understand how the cycle of poverty begins and can be stopped. In the game called SPENT, players are put in the shoes of an impoverished individual for one month and must handle their daily financial decisions. Studies on SPENT gameplay demonstrated that participants developed a stronger recognition of the causes of poverty and made them less willing to support economic inequality for at least five months after playing the game. “How people understand the causes of poverty influences their willingness to address inequality and help the poor,” said SFU Professor Lara Aknin. “Our dream is to partner with the Vancouver School Board and classrooms around the city to investigate if we see similar long-lasting results using these interventions during these impressionable periods.” ZME Science (BC)

How will the transition to online learning affect the postsecondary landscape?

“Once normal campus life returns,” writes Joshua Kim, “there are many potential ways that this pandemic will permanently alter our higher ed landscape.” In this piece, Kim hypothesizes that three key ideas about remote-working will become apparent: the fear that people would work less hard when working remotely will prove to be unfounded; much of the work that many people do in higher ed is well suited for remote work; and our mental image of remote work has not kept pace with the evolution of remote working tools. The author, however, cautions against reading his pronouncements as anti-in-person learning, wondering instead if transitioning more learning to online might benefit educators, students, and institutions alike. Inside Higher Ed (International)

Should higher education be publicly funded?: Debate

George Mason University Professor Nicholas Dirks and University of Berkeley Professor Bryan Caplan present opposing arguments around the public funding of higher education. Dirks’ argument in favour of publicly funded higher education is centered on the idea that higher education fosters a variety of skills that are vital to “maintaining a healthy, stable, and thriving democratic society,” something he regards as a kind of public good worthy of public funding. Caplan, on the other hand, argues that higher ed should not be publicly funded because of its ability to create credential inflation, where students are attaining an education for the primary purpose of competing for jobs. National Post | National Post (International)

University of the People offers online courses to any university

An American tuition-free distance education institution, the University of the People, is making their online courses available to universities in order to allow students to take UoPeople courses for credit. Interested institutions will be able to select relevant courses taught by UoPeople faculty and enable students to earn credits toward their home university. UoPeople stated that student assessment fees would be "addressed between UoPeople and the university sending students to our courses." “Because we have been online for more than ten years, we are in a unique position to offer our courses to all interested institutions,” said UoPeople President Shai Reshef. In addition, UofPeople is willing to train other university professors in the techniques and strategies for teaching courses online. UoPeople | Campus Technology (International)

Make career decisions easier by understanding one’s values

Making career decisions require one to contemplate a lot of variables: job flexibility, commute times, and employment stability. In this piece, author Daniel J Moglen encourages those working in higher education to consider their values when assessing new employment opportunities. Whether it is daily contact with others or the ability to learn to skills on a daily basis, Moglen writes that it is important to consider if and what one’s “deal breakers” are before they join an organization that may not support their values. The author recommends starting to organize one’s work-related values by considering how a current position aligns (or not) with values and developing a work philosophy/manifesto. “The underlying meaning of the word "value" is worth,” explains Moglen. “What is worthwhile to you? And how can you move toward having work and living a life that align with your values?” Inside Higher Ed (International)

Some schools suspending instructor evaluations for winter term

In light of the many rapid changes made to the delivery of postsecondary education across the country, some institutions are electing to suspend teaching evaluations for the term. Carleton University, for example, announced that they decided to suspend teaching evaluations “on an exceptional basis,” noting that “anyone needing official documentation regarding teaching performance for the purposes of upcoming professional opportunities will be provided with a letter from their Dean.” Carleton (ON)