Top Ten

August 26, 2021

MNBC announces $3.88M in STEPS programs support

Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) has announced $3.88M in new funding for Skills Training, Employment, and Post-Secondary (STEPS) programs. Over $1M will provide additional supports such as community-based programming for the MNBC training institute; $2M will go to MNBC Chartered Communities to support STEPS programming; and $425K will go to programming and support for Métis businesses and employers, Métis women, youth, and persons with disabilities. MNBC has also voted to increase the cap for student funding from $25K to $50K. “The pandemic has a severe impact on our Métis youth, students, and Chartered Communities,” says Susie Hooper, MNBC Minister of Post-Secondary Education. “Providing more supports directly to our communities and students is vital to ensure our Nation has a successful recovery from the pandemic.” Nation Talk (BC)

CICan launches national Virtu-WIL initiative

Colleges and Institutes Canada has announced that it is launching a national initiative called Virtu-WIL to provide healthcare students with access to virtual work-integrated learning opportunities. The initiative will provide students in nursing, medical laboratory sciences, and paramedicine with 120 virtual simulations in English and French. The goal of the initiative is to provide opportunities to 4,000 students between September and March. “Thanks to the Innovative Work-Integrated Learning Initiative, our Virtu-WIL project will help expand healthcare education resources and create new innovative work-integrated learning opportunities and platform,” said CICan president Denise Amyot. “This will go a long way towards supporting our future healthcare professionals in developing practical, job-ready skills before entering the labour market.” CICan (National)

Laurentian requests judge to extend its loan agreement

Laurentian University has requested an extension of its loan agreement until January 31, 2022. CBC reports that Laurentian needs to refinance its debtor-in-possession loans in order to exit the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) proceedings, and that it needs additional time in order to negotiate those terms. President Robert Haché filed an affidavit outlining factors such as the cuts and budget reductions made thus far, the anticipated reduced enrolment, and the provincial Auditor General’s investigation. Laurentian has negotiated a $350K fee with the lenders to extend the loan agreement. In order for Laurentian’s extended loan agreement to be approved, a judge must pass the motion, which will go before the court on August 27. CBC | Northern Ontario Business (ON)

Applying lessons from online learning to the classroom: Opinion

The shift to online learning highlighted the importance of values such as clarity, engagement, support, and flexibility, writes Steven Mintz, and these lessons can be applied to classes this Fall to meet student needs. The author provides 10 ideas instructors can use, such as frequently checking in with students on class and other issues; having students participate in presenting course materials and facilitating discussions; and encouraging participation through a round robin approach. Mintz encourages instructors to use low-stakes quizzing to monitor learning, have students present their projects, work on a grading rubric collectively, and embed inquiry and problem solving into classes. “[I]t’s up to us to transform negative experiences into positive lessons,” writes Mintz. Inside Higher Ed (Editorial)

BCcampus releases final installment of BCcampus Indigenization guide project

BCcampus has released the final installment of its BCcampus Indigenization guide project. The project has been designed for Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers, postsecondary research departments, teaching faculty, and those working in community partnership roles. It provides guidance on incorporating Indigenous methodologies and the respectful and ethical collection of data. “This guide is meant to help find the ethical space between Indigenous knowledge and institutional research,” said Gabrielle Lamontagne, coordinator for Indigenization and Collaborative Projects at BCcampus. “Historically, much of the research into North America’s Indigenous communities has been done by outsiders, and there have been a lot of issues with ethical practices.” The guide is available online and will be distributed physically to 25 postsecondary institutions in BC. BCcampus (BC)

UAlberta NASA concerned over request for members to volunteer to complete COVID-19 testing

The University of Alberta’s Non-Academic Staff Association (NASA) has raised concerns over the University of Alberta’s request for university community members to help administer rapid tests for COVID-19 at its Augustana Campus, North Campus, and Enterprise Square. Global News reports that a copy of the request said that volunteers might work “collecting patient information, observing swabs, or analyzing and recording results,” and that they should plan to complete five hours a week for the fall semester. NASA president Jillian Pratt argued that these staff members are not necessarily trained in these tasks and are already overwhelmed and overburdened. “Our ultimate outcome would be folks who have the knowledge, expertise, education, experience that they need to be doing the testing, doing the testing,” said Pratt. Global News (AB)

Atlantic postsecondary institutions announce COVID-19 vaccine mandates

Several Atlantic postsecondary institutions have announced COVID-19 vaccine requirements for their campus community members. Nova Scotia Community College, Mount Saint Vincent University, and the University of Prince Edward Island have announced that they are making vaccines mandatory, and that they expect students, staff, and faculty to be fully vaccinated before their October deadlines. Unvaccinated people at MSVU and UPEI will be allowed on campus, but will be required to undergo COVID-19 tests. New Brunswick Community College will require its students to either be vaccinated or wear masks and participate in a testing program. “Several aspects of how we implement this will rely on protocols being developed by the Government of New Brunswick and Public Health,” explained NBCC President Mary Butler, “so I ask for your patience as we await further guidance.” CBC (NSCC) | Global News (NBCC) | CBC (UPEI) | CBC (MSVU) (Atlantic)

RRC, Frontiers North Adventures unveil new electric Tundra Buggy

Red River College and Frontiers North Adventures have unveiled the new electric Tundra Buggy that was created through their partnership. The Tundra Buggy will replace Frontiers North Adventures’ diesel-powered tundra buggy, lowering the company’s greenhouse gas emissions and giving guests a silent touring experience. The Tundra Buggy uses a recycled e-bus battery and will be charged with local hydroelectric power. “The EV Tundra Buggy project is a quintessential made-in-Manitoba story — it has links to conservation, tourism, and environmental stewardship, highlighting the ability of industry partnerships to create positive impact in Manitoba, for Manitobans, through reducing environmental impact and benefitting our local economy,” said RRC President Fred Meier. Winnipeg Sun | Winnipeg Free Press (MB)

Student mental health worsening during COVID-19: Study

Student mental health has been steadily worsening during COVID-19, and data shows that students are experiencing heightened levels of academic stress and burnout, writes Sarah Brown. According to the Healthy Minds Study, 2015-2021, student response to COVID-19 has been complex and has seen a continuing trend of anxiety and depression. In 2020, most students did not seek help because of pandemic-related reasons, but heightened academic distress was found in those who did. By spring 2021, the study found that 27% of students reported “emotional and mental difficulties” affecting their studies six or more days a month. Brown says that the students who are entering the Fall semester are already burned out and wary, and discusses the ways various institutions in the US are preparing their counseling centres to manage the influx of students once campuses are fully open. Chronicle of Higher Ed (Paywall) (Editorial)

Why Seneca will not offer an alternative to vaccination: Agnew

Seneca College is not offering COVID-19 testing as an alternative to vaccination because vaccination is the “foundation of every public health strategy to defeat a virus,” writes Seneca President David Agnew. Agnew argues that other measures are temporary measures that are “cumbersome” and only meant to buy time before people can be vaccinated. The author says that many diseases are no longer a concern because of vaccination, and argues that testing should not be taken to “absurd extremes” to control sicknesses that can be stopped by vaccination. “Vaccinations are the way we will beat this virus,” concludes Agnew. “Vaccinations — in every arm, in every country — are the way we will save lives.” The Star (ON)