Top Ten

November 2, 2021

ON to invest $10.7M in expanding virtual learning options for students

The Government of Ontario has announced that it is investing $10.7M in expanding flexible, market-responsive virtual learning options for students. The funding will help expand programming through a call for proposals supported by eCampusOntario. “Ontario’s Virtual Learning Strategy has furthered Ontario’s position as a global leader in postsecondary education,” said ON Minister of Colleges and Universities Jill Dunlop. “By continuing to promote innovation in the development of educational technology and virtual learning offerings, we are giving learners the flexible access to training they need to enter the workforce and obtain good jobs, regardless of their location.” ON will also create laptop and internet loaner programs through Contact North and will enhance Contact North’s infrastructure. ON (ON)

Drops in enrolment in oil-focused engineering programs at CNA, MUN

Enrolment in oil-focused engineering programs at Newfoundland and Labrador postsecondary institutions has dropped, reports CBC, and students who are in this program are enrolling with the hope of bringing change to the industry. Enrolment in oil industry-geared programs at both the College of the North Atlantic and Memorial University are trending downward, with most of MUN’s engineering students opting for the sustainability stream rather than the oil and gas stream. CBC suggests that this change may be influenced by how NL’s oil industry was hit hard by the crash in global oil prices followed by the COVID-19 pandemic. MUN dean of engineering and applied science Greg Naterer said that MUN is considering adapting its programs to be more environmentally responsible. CBC (CP) (NL)

How to reap the benefits of student-centered learning in the classroom

Student-centered learning is a method that provides a more meaningful learning experience for students, writes Suchinta Arif in an article for the Journal of College Science Teaching, but many instructors may not know how to adapt their courses to this method. Arif, an instructor at Saint Mary’s University and a PhD candidate at Dalhousie University, describes the use of student-centered learning in an ecosystems course’s lectures, labs, and assignments. For example, students were allowed to choose guest lecturers for the course and had flexibility in their assessments (e.g. choice of oral vs written assessment, choosing from a list of essay questions for the final exam). Arif concludes by sharing the positive results from the course and encouraging other instructors to adopt a more student-centred learning approach in their teaching environment. NSTA (Editorial)

USask faculty member accused of false Indigenous ancestry claim

Recent articles in CBC and the Star Phoenix have accused University of Saskatchewan professor Dr Carrie Bourassa of making a false claim of Indigenous ancestry. Bourassa responded by issuing a statement asserting her membership to the First Indigenous Riel Métis Community of Regina, stating that CBC received false or inaccurate information, and expressing frustration with the article. USask Provost Airini issued a statement indicating that “any inquiry into this type of allegation would be informed and guided by university polices and procedures," and noting that Bourassa was not hired for her Indigenous status. Indigenous faculty members from institutions such as USask, the University of Regina, the University of Toronto, and Saint Mary's University who spoke to CBC and the Star Phoenix called for institutions across the country to go beyond self-identification for Indigenous identity claims and called for Bourassa to step down. Métis Nation-Saskatchewan repeated its call from June 2020 for Saskatchewan postsecondary institutions to adopt their definition of Métis citizenship for the purposes of employment, scholarships, and other programs and called on institutions to "address false or misleading claims of ancestry." USask | IHL (Bourassa) | CBC | Saskatoon StarPhoenix | MN-S (SK) Update: The University of Saskatchewan and CIHR have reportedly placed Dr Bourassa on leave and begun an investigation. Nation Talk | CBC

NREN partners implement MANRS to bolster security

Canada’s National Research and Education Network partners have announced that Mutually Agreed Norms for Routing Security (MANRS) has been implemented on the majority of Canada’s research and education networks. MANRS is designed to address issues of security and resilience in the global Internet routing system. It has been implemented by CANARIE and 11 partner networks across the country: Cybera, BCNET, MRnet, ECN-NB, ACORN-NL, ACORN-NS, ORION, ECN-PEI, RISQ, SRNET, and Yukon University. CANARIE (National)

How to reach out appropriately to Indigenous scholars: Opinion

Wanting to reach out to Indigenous scholars is a positive inclination, but it should be done considerately, writes Jesse Popp, an Assistant Professor at the University of Guelph. Popp argues that Indigenous people are increasingly being approached by those who are interested in Indigenization. The author recommends taking a variety of steps before reaching out to an Indigenous Scholar, such as doing research to find existing answers, considering if they are prioritizing reconciliation over box-ticking, and ensuring meaningful engagement. Popp also says that people should recognize that Indigenous scholars face many requests, Indigenous Peoples are diverse, and that Indigenous people are not all experts in all things Indigenous. Finally, the author recommends considering reciprocity or compensation for an Indigenous academic’s time. The Conversation (Editorial)

Almost 40% of QC education students drop out, Legault to increase master’s program spaces

Quebec is facing difficulties with teacher training, reports the Journal de Montréal, as several Quebec universities have a low graduation rate and students are taking longer than expected to finish their program. The Journal reports that many students who drop out of their program do so during their first year, which Université TÉLUQ Professor Geneviève Sirois says shows the importance of supporting students better from the beginning of their studies. Recruitment is also reportedly an issue, as many individuals who are recruited to teach secondary school view working in education as a “plan B.” QC Premier François Legault has promised to increase the number of spaces available in the qualifying master’s degree program so that more graduates can accelerate their teacher training. Journal de Montréal (1) | Journal de Montréal (2) (QC)

NB calls postsecondary students to fill non-clinical long-term care home positions

The Government of New Brunswick has called for postsecondary students to fill non-clinical positions at long-term care homes, reports CBC. The COVID-19 pandemic and sickness and self-isolation among staff members has led to staffing shortages in the sector. Students would be providing non-clinical support, such as nutritional support, light cleaning, and supporting residents’ health and wellbeing. The New Brunswick Council of Nursing Home Unions has expressed concern over the move, as residents need their clinical needs addressed. “We need our skilled and our professional [workers] in there to be able to properly assess and to provide the care that's necessary,” said NBCNHU president Sharon Teare. CBC (NB)

TRU receives funding to add 20 fast-track seats to respiratory therapist diploma program

Thompson Rivers University has received a $320K investment that will support 20 new fast-track seats for TRU’s respiratory therapist diploma program. The one-time seats will allow students who have a bachelor of science or associate of science degree to enter the second year of TRU’s respiratory therapy diploma program after completing requisite coursework. Students can complete the program in two years. TRU will also receive funding for skills-training equipment for the program, including a new ventilator. “The expansion of the respiratory therapy program will fulfil a high-demand need for trained professionals,” said TRU President Brett Fairbairn. “The growth of this program will allow students to transform themselves and the health of the communities they will support in the future.” BC (BC)

Contempt towards non-academic staff is “unjustified, destructive”: Editorial

Reflecting on recent articles that express condescension towards the administrative staff at institutions, Brian Rosenberg argues that this contempt for non-academic staff is “unjustified and destructive.” Rosenberg discusses the highly hierarchical nature of institutions and their reliance on expertise as traditionally defined through a PhD. While the roles of non-academic staff are quite different from those of faculty, the author writes, they are not necessarily easier or less dependent on specific training and experience. Rosenberg encourages faculty to avoid the tendency to “lament the increase in various forms of training” that stem from the new legal obligations of the university or to “extrapolate from bad actors and bad actions in order to generalize about an entire class of … employees.” Chronicle of Higher Education (Editorial)