Top Ten

January 24, 2023

Canadian postsecondary institutions monitor ChatGPT usage, consider alternative evaluation methods

Several sources report that Canadian postsecondary education is grappling with the growing use of ChatGPT among their student bases. The two-month-old software can be used as a learning aid, but presents ample opportunity for plagiarism. “This will fundamentally change education,” said University of British Columbia Canada Research Chair in AI Alan Mackworth. University of Waterloo AVP Academics David DeVidi told CTV News that the university is working on a policy that will enable instructors to limit cheating through AI programs. Journal de Québec and Global News shared tactics that faculty at institutions such as Toronto Metropolitan University, Cégep Champlain St Lawrence à Québec, and Cégep Sorel-Tracy are using to discourage students from abusing or relying on ChatGPT, such as drawing students at random to explain their work to the class or using alternative forms of evaluation. CTV News | Journal de Québec | Global News (National)

Cumberland, Parkland receive approval to move forward on merger

Cumberland College and Parkland College have received approval from the Government of Saskatchewan to move forward on their merger. The merger will enable the colleges to better serve their communities through shared resources, increased partnership opportunities, and new program development. The merger will take place on July 1, and will follow a phased approach that will include a rebranding process with a new name and logo. “By merging Cumberland College and Parkland College, we will be stronger together,” said Cumberland and Parkland College Board of Governors Co-Chair Ray Sass. “This will position our merged college to be more robust and provide the opportunity to offer more programming to recruit and retain more students.” Parkland (SK)

ChatGPT joins the conversation about ChatGPT: Editorials

An editorial about ChatGPT’s impact on education and the future of artificial intelligence has been penned by ChatGPT itself. University Business staff writer Micah Ward prompted the software to write a story in AP style about the future of AI. The software responded by explaining that AI can create a personalized, self-paced learning experience for students, in addition to supporting teachers by providing greater insight into students’ performance and needs. Of itself, it explained: “ChatGPT can help educators and students alike to improve their language skills, increase their understanding of complex concepts, and engage in more meaningful conversations. And let’s be real, who wouldn’t want a robot that can help you write your essay in a fraction of the time?” University Business (Editorial)

StatCan releases data on aging, parity in full-time teaching staff

Statistics Canada has released a report and data on full-time teaching staff at Canadian universities. The report states that 27.6% of full-time academic staff in the 2021/2022 academic year were 55-to-64 years old, with the median age now 13 years higher than it was in 1971/72. StatCan further analyzed the gender differences among full-time teaching staff and notes that gender parity has been achieved in ranks below assistant professor, assistant professor, and associate professor. While gender parity in higher ranks has not yet been achieved, the report states, the proportion of women who are full-time university teaching staff is increasing. StatCan (National)

AB paramedic programs struggle to find practicum mentors for students

Paramedic students in Alberta are struggling to find work placements due to high EMS workloads, reports CBC. Practicums are a mandatory part of paramedic student coursework, CBC reports, but mentors are increasingly difficult to find amidst provincial staffing shortages and higher call volumes. AB has recently increased the number of seats in paramedic programs, some are concerned about the impact of the continued lack of practicums. “I think increasing the class size is a great concept, but it really isn't probably actionable until we can increase the pool or the uptake of paramedic practicums,” said College of Paramedics Registrar Tim Ford. CBC (AB)

PINQ² to add quantum supercomputer to its resources

The Platform for Digital and Quantum Innovation of Quebec (PINQ²), a non-profit co-founded by the Université of Sherbrooke and Government of Quebec in 2020, has announced that it will add the world’s 5th quantum supercomputer to the resources it offers. The Quantum Computer of Quebec will be used to support projects that address climate change, the development of clean and renewable energy resources, and health research, and will provide an opportunity to train individuals and develop knowledge around quantum technologies. Institutions, companies, and organizations will be able to access the supercomputer at an affordable rate, and the computer will play a critical role in supporting the Quebec-IBM discoveries accelerator. Newswire | PINQ ² (QC)

Tuition hike approved at UCalgary, proposed at UAlberta

In Alberta, students are holding tuition demonstrations and speaking out against tuition increases. The University of Calgary has reportedly approved a tuition increase in a response to inflation that will take effect in May. In addition to tuition, the hikes will also affect general fees, residence fees, meal plan program fees, and parking rates. Students held a demonstration while the board was voting, and reportedly pounded on windows and chanted outside the voting room. At the University of Alberta, decisions will soon be made on a proposed 5.5% tuition hike for domestic students and a 6.5% tuition hike for international students. Several students spoke to Global News to share their concerns about the impact of the hike on students who are in financial crisis. CBC (UCalgary) | UCalgary | Global News (AB)

Memorial, ULaval faculty vote in favour of strike mandates

Faculty at Memorial University and Université Laval have recently voted in favour of strike mandates. Saltwire reports that 90% of Memorial University of Newfoundland Faculty Association (MUNFA) members voted in favour of a strike vote. The key issues being debated include salary, pension benefits, contractual positions, and university governance. The MUNFA executive committee has set a strike deadline of January 30. In Quebec, Syndicat des professeurs de l’Université Laval have also voted in favour of a strike mandate with the potential strike occurring as soon as February 20th. The faculty members told Journal de Montréal that they would need to see significant progress on key issues such as workload, remuneration, and academic freedom to avoid a strike. Saltwire | VOCM | Journal de Montréal (NL | QC)

Northern, AlgomaU announce new transfer agreement for social work students

Northern College and Algoma University have expanded their partnership with a new transfer agreement in order to meet the need for social workers in the region. The agreement will give graduates of Northern’s social service worker diploma program the opportunity to pursue an Honours Bachelor of Social Work program at AlgomaU while remaining at the college. “Our long-standing partnership with Northern College continues to evolve as we collectively work to support increased access to post-secondary education in Northern Ontario,” shared AlgomaU President Asima Vezina. “It is truly exciting to see the continued development of these pathway agreements as I know how successful they have been.” AlgomaU | Soo Today (ON)

Virtual campus visits can increase accessibility, limit discrimination: Opinion

In a recent article for the Chronicle of Higher Ed, Kaitlyn Sorenson argues in favour of virtual campus visits over the more traditional in-person campus interview. Sorensen argues that an online format for faculty job finalists comes with critical benefits related to accessibility and equity, such as limiting the opportunity for inappropriate or discriminatory comments. The author writes that virtual interviews are also kinder to those who will not be offered the job and are cheaper for both institutions and applicants. "Short of being able to magically conjure more tenure lines, we owe it to academic job seekers to make the process of applying for faculty jobs more equitable, more accessible, cheaper, and less exhausting — emotionally and otherwise," concludes Sorenson. Chronicle of Higher Ed (Acct. Req.) (Editorial)