Top Ten

August 28, 2020

IRCC announces more flexibility in post-grad work permit eligibility, online studies

Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced new flexibility with respect to post-graduate work permit eligibility and online studies for international students. The new rules mean that international students can study online from abroad until April 30, 2021 with no time deducted from the length of a future post-graduate work permit. Those studying in more than one program may also be able to combine their length of studies when applying, as long as 50% of their studies are completed in Canada. Students enrolled in an 8-to-12-month long program that began between May and September 2020 will be able to complete their entire program online from abroad and still be eligible for a post-graduation work permit. CICAN (National)

Cambrian offers November intake for seven graduate certificate programs

In what the Sudbury Star says is a first for an Ontario college, Cambrian College will offer November intake for seven of its graduate programs. Programs included in the intake are IT business analysis, business analytics, human resources management, international business management, organization management, project management, and supply chain management. The change will further flexibility for learners and offer varied delivery models. “We’re offering dynamic courses and programming year-round because we know that industry and students want more flexibility to gain the specialized skills they need to adapt to the ever-changing workplace,” said Paula Gouveia, vice-president of academics at Cambrian. Sudbury Star (ON)

Faculty discuss ways to get creative with course assessments

As the pandemic and online proctoring challenges make high-stakes tests less appealing to faculty members, Beth McMurtrie explores a number of alternative assessment strategies that faculty members can use in the classroom. McMurtrie describes efforts used by faculty in the US, including the use of multimedia projects, open book tests and creative reimagining's of content, and quizzes on social media platforms. One associate professor of accounting and finance, Kerry Calnan, explained how she taught a course on the principles of accounting entirely through Monopoly by asking students to represent real-estate companies. “My colleagues thought I was a bit crazy, but my students loved it,” explained Calnan. “They outperformed the traditional sections every year.” Chronicle of Higher Ed (International)

A look at how university education has been reimagined in the face of COVID-19: Puri

“Our responses to the pandemic are helping us reimagine the future of higher education. Instead of lamenting what's lost, let's focus on what we've gained,” writes McMaster Dean of Engineering Ishwar K Puri. Puri identifies five opportunities for the future of university education that have been presented by the pandemic: the use of virtual content and activities; increased experiential engagement with students through virtual platforms; the end of the credit hour model of education; broader support for students who are facing financial or health insecurity; and a renewed commitment to listening to students, employers, and communities. “The future our students deserve,” writes Puri, “can be fashioned by heeding the lessons learned from experience over the past few months.” The Conversation (National)

ON universities offer pandemic-related courses in upcoming semester

This fall, 11 universities in Ontario will be offering COVID-19-related courses in subjects such as health, law, politics, history, sociology, economics, and art. CBC describes the courses being offered by institutions such as OCAD University, McMaster University, University of Guelph, and Algoma University. While some courses will explore the current pandemic and its legal, political, and societal implications, others will cause students to reflect on past pandemics in order to contextualize our current experiences. Of the importance of offering such courses, Algoma instructor Olabanji Akinolasays explained: “We're living witnesses to it. So we will be the textbooks for COVID going forward.” CBC (ON)

KPU adjusts TALK courses to online delivery for older learners

Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Third Age Learning at Kwantlen (TALK) courses have been reopened this fall in an online format. The courses were originally scheduled for Spring 2020, but cancelled when the pandemic hit. The volunteer-run courses are aimed at mature learners in the 50-plus age group, and are offered at a low cost. “Our summer survey results showed that most of our members and presenters want to proceed with online courses and Philosophers Corners this fall,” said program chair Robin Heath. “There are many seniors facing shut-in realities and having an opportunity to stay connected with their community and to continue participating in relevant online courses will have a positive impact on their lives.” Surrey Now Leader (BC)

AR-enhanced science labs coming to Ryerson

Ryerson University is launching the Ryerson Augmented Learning Experience (RALE), a set of labs designed for students in the Faculty of Science. The university is working with augmented reality (AR) company NexTech AR Solutions to launch the project based on the company’s InfernoAR technology. The initial launch will include 20 AR labs that will allow 5,000 students in first-year chemistry, biology, and physics to experience interactive videos, Zoom sessions with technicians and lab partners, and AR lab exercises that can be done from home. “At Ryerson we took the bold step of re-imagining a virtual lab," said Ryerson Faculty of Science Dean David Cramb. “The incorporation of augmented reality into the STEM learning environment will change pedagogy forever.” Campus Technology (ON)

Distance learning may be as effective as in-person learning, yields benefits in a remote work future

Learning from home may prove to be a good training ground for the post-pandemic world, writes Stacy Lee Kong. The author describes how, while many may feel online learning is being less effective than in-person education, this is not necessarily the case . “The meta-analyses have found outcomes between the two are generally the same,” explained Royal Roads University Professor George Veletsianos. “If there’s any sort of difference, it tends to favour blended courses.” The article reflects on what makes for a successful online course, the barriers that students may experience with this learning opportunity, and what may work in the future. It concludes by noting that learning to learn online may be a particularly beneficial skill if there is a long-term shift toward remote work. Macleans (National)

U of T faculty express concerns with university’s reopening plan

Faculty at the University of Toronto have spoken out against the university's reopening plan. Over 350 participants attended a virtual meeting held by the University of Toronto Faculty Association (UTFA) and other campus unions to discuss their concerns about September, reports CBC. The union expressed concerns that include “the university administration's refusal to meet with the UTFA for discussion or to listen to the institution's own experts,” as well as ventilation systems issues and mask guidelines. The University of Toronto stated that 90% of students are enrolled only in online courses and that, on any given day, up to 5% of students will be on its three campuses for courses compared to last year. CBC | CP24 (ON)

An alternative to the argumentative essay: Southworth

“Many faculty across the disciplines regard the argumentative essay, particularly the persuasive essay, as the gold standard of assessments,” writes James Southworth, a writing consultant at Wilfrid Laurier University, “But can a fair inquiry take place when students are saddled with prior beliefs on a topic?” Southworth argues that argumentative writing tends to enable students to “take the path of least resistance” and reinforce – instead of challenge – their key cognitive biases. Instead, the author encourages the use of the “complexity paper,” which tries to examine both viewpoints and convince the reader of a particular issue’s complexity instead of convincing the reader of a particular angle. University Affairs (International)