Top Ten

August 17, 2020

MB postsecondary institutions release mask policies for the upcoming school year

Postsecondary institutions in Manitoba have announced their approaches to masks on campus for the upcoming Fall semester. Brandon University has announced that anyone on the campus and in the company of others will be required to wear a mask. "With the recent increase in Covid-19 cases here in Brandon, we remain committed to the safety of our community," BrandonU stated in a news release. "Wearing masks helps reduce viral transmission and keep each other safe." The University of Winnipeg and Assiniboine Community College have both not made masks mandatory, but are strongly encouraging those who come to campus to wear some form of face-covering or shield. Red River College has also said that mask use is encouraged, but not mandatory unless physical distancing cannot happen. CTV News reports that the University of Manitoba did not indicate any similar policies regarding facemasks.

NS university instructors use virtual field trips, immersive videos, international speakers

University instructors in Atlantic Canada have introduced a number of virtual initiatives in order to better teach content and reach a wider audience in the digital space. A Dalhousie University instructor designed virtual field trips for students to embark on; Mount Saint Vincent University’s Department of Business and Tourism has introduced virtual tours of businesses and fireside chats; and a Saint Mary’s University instructor has introduced virtual case studies for what is normally a hands-on, out-in-the-field archaeology course. “I’m hoping that, even though in some respects we’re functioning like athletes with an injury,” said SMU Associate Professor Jonathan Fowler, “we each might discover some creative new approaches to our teaching craft that we can then retain later on.”

UAlberta experts offer tips for handling “digital overload”

Whether working from home or embarking on an online postsecondary program, time spent in front of a screen is likely to be increasing. University of Alberta professor Ian Gellathy, psychologist Jason Murray, and digital literacy researcher Linda Laidlaw write about how mentally draining full days in front of a laptop can be. They suggest ways to cope with this digital overload, including: taking breaks away from the screen, assessing the need for video meetings, breaking during meetings, keeping virtual meetings short, and avoiding multitasking during online meetings. They also suggest using stronger verbal cues to make up for the lack of nonverbal cues sent and received online, cutting down on video and audio “clutter” by muting or turning off your camera, and setting up informal online meetings for people to feel the social connection they may be missing from the physical workplace.

Laurentian suspends admissions to 17 programs

Laurentian University has suspended admissions to 17 programs due to low enrolment numbers. The programs range from anthropology to geography to modern languages. “It gets to the point where, if these programs are not appealing to the students, then you have to do things,” explained Laurentian President Robert Haché, “you have to move to improve the program, change the program, or in this case to suspend admissions.” The Laurentian University Faculty Association, along with the Canadian Association of University Teachers, has expressed that they will be seeking a judicial review of the university’s decision.


Eight tips for improving online courses: Mintz

“For those of us who will teach large online classes in the fall, the challenge is clear:” writes Steven Mintz, “We must design and deliver courses that are engaging, interactive, well supported, and responsive to the times.” Mintz provides eight key tips for those who are looking to ensure that “Round 2” of online learning is stronger than the offerings from the Spring term. Among these tips, Mintz recommends that instructors be student-centric in their development: structuring online classes in a way that helps students to stay focused; encouraging community between students; and building relationships with and providing supports to individual students, especially those who struggle with the online offering.

Canada gains competitive edge among international students: Op-ed

Thanks to the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada is gaining a competitive edge among international students, write the leaders of several internationally-focused language schools, colleges, and universities in Canada. The authors describe how international students have played an increasingly significant role in the Canadian economy in recent years, and how the country’s success in flattening the curve will make Canada a better option for students to safely pursue higher education. “We need these students,” write the authors, “and we can safely manage their transition to Canada by following the robust public health guidelines that are available. It is time to seize this opportunity before students look elsewhere.”

(National)The Guardian

Keyano launches ambassador program, tuition credit for international students

In late July, Keyano College launched a new International Student Ambassador Program. The program will see students receive a $500 tuition credit for each successfully registered international student that they refer to the college. The program also includes the International Student Support Initiative, where Keyano students can assist international students in their transition to the college and receive a credit of between $50 and $100.

Dal joins CIRTL as second Canadian member

Dalhousie University, along with five US-based universities, are joining the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL). The CIRTL network includes major research universities across North America and enables members to share resources and support one another. “Our newest member universities will bring an even greater diversity in the expertise that the network is giving our future faculty,” says CIRTL Director Robert Mathieu. “Several of our new partner institutions emphasize teaching Indigenous students, while others contribute valuable experience serving students in urban multicultural environments.” CIRTL currently involves a total of 38 members, including the University of British Columbia.

(NS) Dal

CNC Burns Lake academic upgrading program cancelled, faculty laid off

College of New Caledonia’s Burns Lake campus has laid off four faculty members from its one-year Academic Upgrading program due to under-enrolment and will be scrapping the program. “We have been working on it for several years to find different ways of delivering, different ways of reaching the community;” explained CNC Vice President Academic Chad Thompson, “unfortunately, the continued lack of enrollment in the program has required us to proceed with the layoffs.” BC Local News reports that the college will instead be offering two new programs that better match community needs. CNC states that one of the four faculty members was successfully reassigned to a different role in the institution.

UofGuelph moves student wellness behaviour change program online

The University of Guelph’s Successful Habits in Education (USHINE) program is now accessible virtually through videoconference meetings. The program, which was piloted last year, is aimed at helping students change their habits to live a healthier lifestyle. The program provides participants with a peer mentor to guide them towards their wellness goals. “It’s hard enough to set good habits when you’re a student,” explained Jean Thompson, a wellness education at UofGuelph’s Department of Student Wellness, “but with the move to remote learning, it can be even more challenging to create new routines or to make connections with new friends so we’re hoping this program will help.”