Top Ten

May 12, 2020

In-person, online, uncertain: more schools announce fall delivery plans

Institutions have continued to announce plans for fall reopening and educational delivery. St Francis Xavier University President Kevin Wamsley has announced that the university is preparing to deliver classes in-person, on-campus in September. Red Deer College and the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi will deliver online courses in the fall, while the Université de Montréal is planning for a term largely delivered virtually. Other schools are still planning for multiple delivery scenarios, such as Lethbridge College which has announced that a decision on fall delivery will not be made until late summer. StFX | RDC | Le quotidian | Journal de Montreal | Lethbridge Herald (National)

Math students push back on purchase, use of external webcams to prevent cheating

Math students at Wilfrid Laurier University are reportedly “furious” that they have been asked to purchase external webcams as an academic dishonesty precaution. WLU Mathematics department chair Roman Makarov explained in an email that the external webcams will be used in exam scenarios so that instructors can have a clear view of the students’ desk spaces in order to prevent cheating. However, students are decrying the additional cost of the cameras and explain that high demand has made the cameras hard to obtain. The Students’ Union stated that they are concerned about the legitimacy of the external webcam requirements and that they are actively working to ensure the “proper non-tuition fee/expense guidelines are followed.” The Star states that a similar controversy erupted earlier this year at Concordia University. The Star (ON)

Over 50 employees laid off at UManitoba

More than 50 employees at the University of Manitoba were laid off last week according to a letter from the Association of Employees Supporting Education Services. Affected workers include staff at the UManitoba bookstore, the marketing and communications department, and kinesiology and recreation management departments, among others. The letter also suggests that the union and UManitoba disagree on the university's reading of the collective agreement and that the union is working with lawyers to explore how to respond. CBC (MB)

Blended/hybrid learning bound to accelerate post-pandemic: Opinion

Based off the results of the last three annual surveys of online learning at postsecondary institutions, Tony Bates predicts that fully online and blended or hybrid learning is bound to accelerate at Canadian universities. Specifically, Bates believes that while a more moderate increase in online-only learning is possible, blended/hybrid learning could become vastly more common as teachers begin to become more familiar with and integrate online learning into their regular teaching. In terms of policy implications for these changes, Bates highlights increased instruction support staff, more and better instructor development and training, and better communication with governments as essential measures. “A well-trained instructor workforce will be essential to develop the skills and knowledge for an effective digital-age economy,” concludes Bates. University Affairs (National)

Virtual convocations, ceremony postponements for class of 2020

Several universities and colleges have unveiled their convocation plans for the class of 2020. Alberta University of the Arts will celebrate the graduating class with a virtual convocation ceremony, immediately followed by the launch of a new website featuring the Grad Show 2020 exhibition. Cape Breton University is hosting a virtual convocation where graduates and their families can visit a website to see recorded speeches from the university president and the valedictorian, sign a virtual guestbook, and view a list of graduates. The school is also looking at alternate dates for an in-person graduation. Northern Lakes College has opted to postpone their convocation and instead invited 2020 graduated to the school’s 2021 convocation ceremony. AUArts | CBC | NLC (AB, NS)

Tips for department chairs in a season of budget cuts

Higher education could look quite different post-pandemic, explains Ralph A Gigliotti, and department chairs are positioned to lead that change and reinvention. To ensure chairs are best representing their departments during a season of unprecedented changes and budget cuts, Gigliotti offers several strategies: Developing a coherent story line for the department that aligns with institutional goals; understanding the department and university budget; and empowering faculty members to propose solutions and ideas. “As administrators identify where they will cut and invest, it’s the chair’s job to ensure that the department is part of the investment,” says US-based professor Richard Rheingans. Chronicle of Higher Ed (International)

Kiuna launches Indigenous Cinema program

Kiuna College has launched an Indigenous Cinema program in partnership with Wapikoni Mobile, a non-profit organization. Beginning this fall, the two-year pre-university program will provide students with an introduction to the world of cinema, screenwriting, directing, animation, documentary film, and hands-on production skills. The program will primarily focus on works made by and for Indigenous peoples. "The program depends on community. It takes very seriously questions of self-representation and working to correct the history of Indigenous Peoples and cultures in films," said Kiuna teacher Paul Grant. CBC (QC)

Doctoral advisement during a pandemic

“Doctoral advisement -- specifically the working relationship between doctoral advisor and student -- is one of the key conditions for optimal doctoral degree completion,” writes Raechele L Pope. Requiring intellectual rigor, psychological flexibility, and independent research competence, doctoral work is challenging even in the best of times, but even more so amid the pandemic. Pope thus provides PhD advisors with eight recommendations for creating and maintaining affirming and student-centered advising relationships during the pandemic, such as increasing contact with students and providing structure and accountability. “Now is the time for us as advisers to look beyond our own experiences and privileges and learn about the challenges and inequities many of our students confront,” concludes Pope. Inside Higher Ed (International)

UWindsor, BlackBerry team up to offer cybersecurity curriculum

The University of Windsor has partnered with BlackBerry Limited to develop and deliver a cybersecurity curriculum for the school’s Graduate Master’s Program in Applied Computing. BlackBerry Bootcamp will be taught as part of a required Network Security course and will cover topics like digital identity protection and privacy, as well as software engineering. "The University of Windsor is pleased to partner with BlackBerry to provide learning opportunities for our students," said UWindsor President Rob Gordon. "This innovative remote learning collaboration will provide students a unique opportunity to develop crucial data science skills and expertise that will allow them to excel in an increasingly digital marketplace." NewsWire (ON)

Keyano president announces resignation

Trent Keough, president of Keyano College, took to social media Friday morning to announce his resignation. Keyano has undergone a massive expansion of community, athletic, and academic services in recent years, but Fort McMurray Today states that the college has also suffered major setbacks that ranged from layoffs to major budget cuts to the substantial damage suffered from the flooding of Fort McMurray.“Full on retirement now! Resigned from Keyano a few minutes ago,” Keough wrote on social media. “Enough is enough.” Keyano has announced that Dale Mountain, VP of Corporate Services & CFO, will take the role of Interim President and CEO. Fort McMurray Today | My McMurray | Keyano  (AB)