Top Ten

November 9, 2021

UBC implements fall reading break in response to student advocacy

The University of British Columbia has implemented a fall reading break in mid-November in response to student advocacy, reports CBC. Students reportedly use UBC’s counselling services most in October and November, and experience difficulties with issues such as weather-related mental health challenges and the transition between midterms and finals. “It is important for us as faculty and university administrators to look at well-being from a holistic perspective,” said UBC Professor Michael Lee, who recommended that students be provided with socialization opportunities during the break to ensure that they stay connected. CBC (BC)

LaSalle unveils 10 new FLEX classrooms to support hybrid learning

LaSalle College has unveiled its new FLEX classrooms, which are designed to support students in learning both in class and at home. The 10 FLEX classrooms cost $300K to create and allow instructors to provide simultaneous in-person and virtual classes. The classrooms have two video cameras, three screens, and a soundbar that picks up sound from all areas in the classroom in order to help students learning from home feel like they are in the classroom. The technology directly connects with the software LaSalle uses for online courses, which facilitates smooth e-learning experiences for students and instructors. LaSalle says that the classrooms will continue to be improved as technology and student needs change. LaSalle (QC)

Improvements in AI raise questions about what constitutes cheating: Opinion

As artificial intelligence improves, postsecondary institutions should be more concerned about its role in plagiarism, write Brock University Assistant Professor Michael Mindzak and University of Calgary Assistant Professor Sarah Elaine Eaton. The authors describe how advances in AI have resulted in new tools for students which improve content and efficiency, with the potential for whole texts to be written by AI. This in turn raises questions about how much and what kinds of AI involvement is considered cheating and what rules apply to both students and researchers. Mindzak and Eaton write that AI developments will force educational stakeholders to “respond and rethink definitions as well as values surrounding plagiarism, originality, academic ethics and academic labour in the very near future.” The Conversation (Editorial)

Group calls for investigations into Indigenous identity, URegina commits to advisory body

A demonstration was held at the University of Saskatchewan by the Matriarchs, Clan Mothers, Aunties and Allies group to call on Canadian universities to investigate faculty whose Indigenous identity is questioned. The group asked for institutions to conduct “transparent reviews and decisive action” to remove employees with unsubstantiated claims of Indigeneity. The University of Regina also recently released a statement recognizing the concerns about Indigenous identity fraud and committing itself to establishing an Indigenous advisory body. The advisory body will work alongside URegina leadership to create a system for reviewing Indigenous employment credentials, vetting claims to Indigeneity during the hiring process, and investigating allegations of Indigenous identity fraud. CBC | Global News | APTN News (Video) | URegina (SK)

Western suggests use of lanyards on-campus as part of new identification system

Western University has announced a new program that could see those on campus wearing lanyards as part of a new identification system, reports CBC. Western will provide branded lanyards with a space for ID cards that will differentiate between students, staff, and visitors. “We wanted to create a visual way to help identify who is on our campus at any given time – including visitors to campus,” said Western Acting Provost Sarah Prichard. Western will be making lanyards available for students and faculty next week. The London Free Press states that some campus community members have criticized the system, saying it was implemented without consultation, could put women and people of colour at risk, and would divide Western from the London community. CBC | London Free Press (ON) | Update: Western University has issued a notice indicating that participation in the lanyard program is entirely voluntary and will not be enforced, and noted that the lanyard system was introduced to campus community groups throughout September and October. Western

UMFA table wage increase, plan to sit in Premier’s office to demand meeting

Members of the University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA) are planning to hold a sit-in at Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson’s constituency office until she says she will hear their concerns. CBC says that members have been requesting meetings with Stefanson with no response. UMFA recently tabled a proposal that includes a 6.5% wage increase comprised of a 2% annual wage increase for the first two years and a 2.5% increase the third year. The offer, valued at $8.3M according to The Star, is expected to address recruitment and retention issues. CBC | The Star (MB)

NOSM U to build primary-care health research database for Northern Ontario

NOSM University has announced that it will be building a primary-care health research database called NORTHH that will help identify prevalent health concerns in Northern Ontario. NORTHH is the first database of its kind in the region, and is funded by over $223K from health organizations. NORTHH will prioritize Indigenous data sovereignty and offer datasets that can help Northern medical workers improve health outcomes for their patients. “At NOSM, we will also be able to inform medical education by using the data to know what health conditions patients are presenting with in primary care and to better prepare our medical students to identify and treat those conditions,” said NORTHH founder Dr Barb Zelek. Net News Ledger | North Bay Nugget (ON)

SK, Senegal sign MOU strengthening ties between educational institutions

The Government of Saskatchewan has signed a MOU with the Government of the Republic of Senegal to strengthen ties between their educational institutions. The agreement will see advancements in cooperation in research as well as enhanced exchange of students and academics. “Our government values this partnership with Senegal and is proud to be signing the first MOU in the history of our province with a French speaking country,” said SK Advanced Education Minister Gene Makowsky. “Our province is committed to building relationships with countries around the world to strengthen intellectual and cultural linkages through research, dialogue and exchange.” SK (SK)

UNBC, UCA sign MOU to increase exchanges, opportunities for collaboration

The University of Northern British Columbia and the University of Central Asia (UCA) have co-signed a new, six-year partnership agreement. The partnership will increase student and faculty exchanges and opportunities for collaboration. “We are fortunate to have graduate students from UCA join us already at UNBC and we are benefiting from the knowledge they have shared as they continue their studies here,” said UNBC Interim President Dr Geoff Payne. “We are looking forward to advancing this partnership with both UCA and the Aga Khan Development Network.” UNBC (BC)

St Clair announces new fire hall for pre-service firefighting program labs

St Clair College has announced that its pre-service firefighting program students have a new space to train in. St Clair acquired a fire station that was no longer in use earlier in the year for students in its firefighting program to use for labs. The facility provides students with the experience of working in a functioning fire hall, which will prepare them for the workforce. “In the past we didn’t have enough space, so we had to do our labs outside, and our props and equipment were all in different storage areas,” said St Clair Pre-Service Firefighter program coordinator Steve Appleyard. “With the new fire hall, all our lab props and equipment can now be utilized in one place.” St Clair | CBC | CTV News (ON)