[University of Waterloo]


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About the DB

Monday, October 4, 2004

  • 'New classroom' series resumes
  • Staff asked about their association
  • And more on a gray fall morning
Chris Redmond

World Habitat Day

[Lazaridis at microphone] [Registrar affixes blue hood]

[Weinberg speaks]

UW's convocation on Saturday morning was a highlight of the grand opening weekend for the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. Chancellor (and Perimeter founder) Mike Lazaridis is seen at the microphone as members of the platform party, including UW provost Amit Chakma (centre), look on. Small photos: an honorary degree for noted physicist James Hartle; another degree recipient, Anthony Leggett, addresses convocation. The third degree recipient was Sir Roger Penrose. The early morning convocation followed a Friday night black-tie dinner at which prime minister Paul Martin helped celebrate Perimeter's opening. For the rest of Saturday, thousands of local visitors toured the building, heard lectures and saw physics demonstrations. Many of the people involved in the Perimeter weekend were UW-based, from physics students doing kids' demonstrations to central stores staff helping with equipment. The event drew national publicity.

'New classroom' series resumes

The "New Classroom" course, aimed at faculty members who want to bring their teaching into the high-tech age, is under new leadership as it's offered again this year by the Centre for Learning and Teaching Through Technology.

Diane Salter, the key figure in past LT3 courses for instructors, has left UW to take a dean's post at Sheridan College, and a successor hasn't arrived. So the series is being handled this fall by Jane Holbrook, the LT3 liaison for the faculty of science and an instructor in biology.

[Red and blue uniform]

On the road: Second-year mechanical engineering student Adam Thuss was in Verona, Italy, over the weekend for the World Cycling Championships. He was expected to compete Saturday in the "junior men's" road race, over a distance of a little more than 132 kilometres -- nine laps of the hilly course. No word yet this morning on how the race went.

Two sessions of "The New Classroom Faculty Series: Engaging Students with Online Activities" will be offered, says a memo from Peter Goldsworthy of LT3, who tells instructors that the course will give them an opportunity to "find out about support available and funding opportunities for integrating technology into your course into UW-ACE; design learning and feedback tasks that can added to your course; consider different modes of using time and space in course delivery; discuss evaluation of technology-enhanced learning and teaching."

It offers, he says, "an excellent chance to think about how to integrate online activities into your course and to discuss your ideas with other faculty members from a variety of disciplines.

"Although the majority of the content and activities for the workshop are completed online, there are two 2-hour, face-to-face meetings with the facilitators and other course members, where you will discuss your course activities." The face-to-face sessions, in the Flex Lab in the Dana Porter Library, will be held on the mornings of October 27 and November 10 (Series 1) or October 28 and November 11 (Series 2). There's more information on the LT3 web site, which is also the place for online registration.

Among faculty members who have bought into "e-learning" in a big way is James Skidmore of the Germanic and Slavic studies department, who has been featured for the past month on the LT3 site.

He talks, says the site, "of how e-learning shifts transmission of how learning takes place. It is no longer a situation of professors standing up in front of classes repeating what is already in textbooks for students to learn. Now, students learn through electronic quizzing, and this allows the professors to interact more with the students.

"Through this method professors can see what materials the students are mastering, and what materials the students need help with. Then, class time can be tailored to the specific needs of the audience. Also, instead of taking up time during class to hand in or hand out papers, electronic drop boxes at course sites allow for more productive class time; once again improving the quality of instructor/student interaction."

Skidmore, says the article, "asserts that e-learning courses can be better structured than conventional classes and can create more activities to engage students through online components. This allows them to focus in more concrete ways. Instructors require students to answer questions on readings (for marks) the day before class, and then discuss them the next day in class, or on a course discussion board."

Staff asked about their association

UW staff members are being called to a meeting tomorrow afternoon (with a repeat session Thursday evening) to comment on the future of their association.

"Do support staff at UW wish to continue to be represented by the Staff Association as it currently exists?" asks a bright orange flyer announcing the meetings. "Is there growing support for certification of support staff at UW? If support staff feel under-represented what are the key issues that need attention? . . . Come prepared to give your feedback."

[McVicar] The association is facing a crisis for lack of leadership. Nobody has taken on the role of president-elect, which could mean there's no president when Avril McVicar (right) of the distance and continuing education office ends her presidential term next spring.

"Beginning in June," says McVicar in a September special issue of the association's newsletter, "the structure of the Staff Association Executive, and therefore the Staff Association itself, is in jeopardy.

"The vast majority of our members are silent. We hear neither good nor bad from them. Others . . . are vocal about decisions that we make, sometimes without understanding the whole situation, sometimes bringing forward sides to issues that we may have missed. It is our heartfelt hope that everyone realizes that a small group of employees, who like you, have too many things to do in too few hours, dedicate a great deal of time and effort into making and keeping UW a good place to work. Perhaps you might think we aren't always right in our choices, but we certainly do agonize over them at times.

Class enrolment appointments on Quest for winter undergraduate courses, October 4-30. Open enrolment begins November 1.

Preparing Students for Group Projects: teaching resources seminar 12 noon, Math and Computer room 5158, information online.

Career Decision-Making: career services workshop 3:30, Tatham Centre room 1208, information online.

Winnipeg writer Charlene Diehl, formerly of Waterloo, reads at St. Jerome's University (room 2009), 4 p.m.

'Echoes of the Holocaust', Stephanie Gray, Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, on genocide and abortion, sponsored by UW Students for Life, 4 p.m., CEIT room 1015.

Computer science distinguished lecture series: Jim Gray, Microsoft, "On-Line Science: The World-Wide Telescope as a Prototype for the New Computational Science", 4:30, Davis Centre room 1350.

Introduction to Online Resources for New Faculty, Centre for Learning and Teaching Through Technology, Tuesday 9:30 a.m., Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library, details online.

Campus TechShop vendor fair -- demonstrations of new products, answers to questions, prizes, Tuesday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Student Life Centre.

WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) training for staff, faculty, grad students: Tuesday 10 a.m. or Thursday 2 p.m., Davis Centre room 1304. Video and brief quiz last about 90 minutes.

'Chapter II: Right on the Market: How to Survive Building a Tech Company," Tuesday 3 to 7 p.m., Federation Hall, as Communitech's Entrepreneur Week continues. Free for would-be entrepreneurs.

Interdisciplinary Coffee Talk Society: Guenter Scholz, physics, "Zero-Emission Vehicles: What Is the Situation?" Tuesday 5 p.m., Graduate House.

Missions/Internship Day sponsored by peace and conflict studies, Conrad Grebel University College, Wednesday 11:00 to 1:00, Grebel atrium.

Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology presents Jim Estill, Synnex Canada, "How to Start a Business and Sell it for $50,000,000", Wednesday 12 noon, Davis Centre room 1302, reservations by Tuesday to lcurtis@uwaterloo.ca.

Bridging the Digital Divide: annual Faculty of Environmental Studies Lecture, Brent Hall, school of planning, Thursday 7:30 p.m., Theatre of the Arts.

"It is demoralizing to have to 'beat the bushes' looking for those willing to serve on the Executive. It is demoralizing that 30% of staff at UW don't see any benefit in belonging to the Association. While it is true that they benefit from our efforts anyway, the rest of us support them.

"Recently, seven employees in one department lost their jobs due to departmental reorganization. . . . The Staff Association Executive is looking at the huge and complex problem of opening up Policy 18 in its entirety, and making sure employees' best interests are served by the Policy when reorganization impacts their workplace. Having said that, we are also wondering if that is important to you."

Tomorrow's open meeting starts at 3 p.m. in Physics room 145. A second meeting will be held Thursday at 7 p.m. in Rod Coutts Hall room 302.

And more on a gray fall morning

Here's a reminder that the plant operations department expects to have the ring road reduced to one lane for much of today at the southwest corner of the campus, beside the PAS (Psychology) building. "Please use caution," a message urges.

The recently-organized UW Recreation Committee is keeping busy with its commitment to organizing social and cultural events aimed at all UW's employees. Today, for instance, with a repeat on Wednesday, there's a noon-hour tour of the earth sciences museum in the Centre for Environmental and Information Technology, led by long-time curator Peter Russell. October 15 there's an outing to "Metamorphoses" at Theatre & Company in downtown Kitchener. On October 20, "Hatha Yoga 101" is planned. November 6 brings a Niagara Ghost Trip; November 13 there's an outing to the Royal Ontario Winter Fair. And so it goes. Details on all these things (and more are being "added on a regular basis", organizers say) are on the UWRC web site, and in e-mails for which any faculty or staff member can sign up.

[Super Size Me, 8:00 tonight at Humanities] The registrar's office sends this notice: "We have discontinued mailing hard copies of the Convocation invitation to faculty. Instead an e-mail notice will be sent with an attached form regarding the academic procession. This form should be completed indicating their participation and returned to the Registrar's Office by October 20." That would be for the two sessions of fall convocation, on October 23. Anyone who hasn't received the electronic memo, and should have, can get in touch with Jayne Dean in the registrar's office, jldean@admmail.

Amy Harvey, program officer for the Canada-US Fulbright Program, will be on campus tomorrow to give a presentation that should interest many faculty, graduate students and senior undergraduates. "Long regarded as the world's premier academic exchange program," a flyer explains, "the Fulbright Program engages exceptional scholars from more than 150 countries worldwide in educational exchange. Among the fastest growing of the bilateral exchanges is the Canada-US Fulbright Program, offering Canadian scholars the unique opportunity to explore contemporary issues relevant to Canada and the United States and the relationship between the two countries." Academics at all levels "interested in conducting research or teaching, or pursuing graduate studies in the United States, are encouraged to attend." The session tomorrow starts at 2:30 in Humanities room 334.

The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance is expected to have a booth in the Student Life Centre today to promote its campaign to lobby the province on higher education funding. . . . October computing courses offered by information systems and technology, including those in the Skills for the Academic Workplace program, are now listed on the IST web site. . . . The Canadian Centre for Arts and Technology, which makes its home in the Modern Languages building, held a launch late last week for its electronic presence, a web site designed by UW Graphics. . . . The bookstore's 20-per-cent-off sale on Springer statistics books is continuing until the end of October. . . .

And . . . I should apologize for a mistake that apparently only one person noticed in Thursday's Daily Bulletin. I wrote that the student awards office, seeking to reduce lineups, had suggested that upper-year students should do their paperwork "in the first year of class"; of course I meant "in the first week of class".


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