Thursday, April 26, 2007

  • Issues in distance and online teaching
  • Seven frontiers for health 'passport'
  • Today's buffet of news notes
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs


The department of anthropology will have a new chair as of May 1: Harriet Lyons takes on that role, which she has held before. Current chair Anne Zeller is ending her term.

Link of the day

Teen idol turns 65

When and where

Graduate Student Research Conference last day: presentations in Davis Centre room 1302 and 1304; seminar on SSHRC fellowships 11:15, Davis room 1351; awards reception Thursday 4:30, Graduate House; details online.

Surplus sale of UW furniture and equipment, 12:30 to 2:00, central stores, East Campus Hall.

Alumni networking workshop Thursday 6:00 to 9:30 p.m., details online.

Dance Odyssey competition in the Humanities Theatre: setup this evening, recitals all day Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

Bookstore, UW Shop and TechWorx closed for inventory Friday and Saturday. Stores open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday next week.

Different Perspectives on Canadian Federalism: "Retrospective and Prospective." Conference Friday and Saturday, Arts Lecture Hall, details online.

[Brain Day logo]
Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience
"Waterloo Brain Day" Friday with seminars by four visiting researchers: James McClelland, Stanford, "Semantic Cognition", 9:15; William Bechtel, U of California at San Diego, "The Return of the Mind-Brain Identity Theory", 10:45; Geoffrey Hinton, U of Toronto, "Learning Deep Generative Models in a Neural Network", 1:30; Anthony Movshon, New York University, "Cortical Analysis of Visual Motion" 3:00; reception 4:15, all in PAS room 2083, details online.

'Research Funding Opportunities for Engineers and Scientists' seminar sponsored by Ontario Centres of Excellence and Health Technology Exchange, Friday 12 noon, Davis Centre room 1302.

Guelph-Waterloo Centre for Graduate Work in Chemistry and Biochemistry: annual meeting Friday 1:00; seminar by Janusz Pawliszyn, UW, "SPME and Other Adventures" 3:00; graduate student poster session 4:30; awards 5:30; wine and cheese party, all at University of Guelph New Science Complex.

Federation of Students 40th anniversary dinner-dance Friday evening, Federation Hall, by invitation.

President David Johnston Run for Health Monday, April 30, 12:00, around the ring road starting at Needles Hall, register with Johan Reis, ext. 3-5418, pledge forms available, T-shirts $20.

First day of classes for spring term is Tuesday, May 1. "Drop, no penalty" period ends May 21.

Welcome reception for new students Tuesday, May 1, 4:30 p.m., Student Life Centre multi-purpose room, information about UW services and a chance to meet other newcomers.

'E-Merging Learning Workshop' introduction to professional development for instructors in online learning, to be followed by online modules and face-to-face coaching, Wednesday, May 2, 10:30 to 11:15, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library, details and registration online.

UW Accounting Conference (second annual) May 4-6, details online.

Issues in distance and online teaching

A new "Distance Education Advisory Committee" is being created, in a world of growing overlap between "distance" courses and the online techniques used in teaching many "on-campus" courses or parts of them.

Gail Cuthbert Brandt, associate vice-president (academic), announced the committee in a memo to deans earlier this month, and made it public through the senate long-range planning committee, which expressed an interest in distance learning as part of is work on UW's Sixth Decade directions. Each dean and each of the four colleges has been asked to name a member to the committee.

[Kelly]"Distance Education is thriving, with many of our courses filling each term (over 16,000 registrations annually)," says Cathy Newell Kelly (left), who recently was named to the job of director of distance and continuing education, and who suggested that the committee be formed.

Says Kelly: "Over the past several years we've experienced significant growth in the number of on-campus students who choose to take courses online/at a distance, and we continue to support a fairly strong cohort of adult part-time learners. At least half of our course offerings each term are now fully online, and that proportion continues to grow. I am looking forward to working with this new committee to map out the future for Distance Education at UW!"

The new body will be called on "to provide advice" to the director and to the associate VP, and "to be a conduit for information exchange to and from the Faculties and academic departments about distance and online activities and plans". A one-page proposal also lists five "current high-priority issues" that it's likely to consider:

¶ How faculty members are paid for online teaching. The traditional model of paying an extra fee for "correspondence" courses may not be adequate, as "teaching online usually requires a far more significant time commitment, which is often not being recognized."

¶ "Developing an implementation strategy to address goals of the Sixth Decade Plan."

¶ "Examining the blurring boundary between fully online teaching and use of online materials in campus teaching. There has been some early success with building a fully online course which is then used for students in the on-campus offering so that class time could be reduced and used more effectively (discussions, tutorials). Is this an extensible model?"

¶ "Academic integrity and performance standards."

¶ "Role of adult learner in UW's strategic plan. Recent discussions within Deans' Council have reaffirmed the desire to attract and support adult learners as we move forward."

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Seven frontiers for health 'passport'

An event dubbed "Passport to Health" is happening from 10:00 to 2:00 today in the Student Life Centre, sponsored by the Employee Assistance Program and the Occupational Health office and aimed at staff and faculty members.

It's a replacement for the full-scale "wellness fair" that has been held at this season for the past couple of years. Linda Brogden of occupational health says the "fair" has been postponed until late October, "in order to coincide with Workplace Wellness Week, which is celebrated nationally. Stay tuned for more detail in the coming months." Meanwhile, “Passport to Health" involves seven booths that will be set up in the multipurpose room of the SLC, she explains:

• "Nell Peters from the Health Services lab will test your blood sugar to see if it is in the normal range."

• "Is your blood pressure elevated? Maureen Turco, a Health Services Registered Nurse, will help you find out."

• "Stress is part of our daily routine, but is yours taking a toll on your health? Karen Rettinger, Beth Bower and Kristine Meier from Counselling Services, as well as Dr. Johan Reis from Health Services/Office for Persons with Disabilities, will be there to provide some answers."

• "Sandy Chuchmach, the Registered Dietitian from Health Services, is available to help negotiate Canada’s new Food Guide and to review your last meal."

• "Amy Kropf, Registered Respiratory Therapist and Certified Asthma Educator, will be there to test your breathing. See how your reading compares to the predicted value for your height, age, weight and sex."

• "Kate Windsor from the Safety Office will offer some very valuable ergonomic tips for your office. If you are experiencing any problems, be sure to drop by Kate’s display."

• "Lori Kraemer, Applied Health Sciences, Fitness Unit, is a Professional Fitness and Lifestyle consultant as well as an Advanced Personal Trainer who is dedicated to motivating people to get in shape. As Lori says: 'You have got one body to take you through the wonderful journey of life — treat it with the respect it deserves'."

Overall, says Brogden, "we hope you will take the 15 minutes to drop by the booths. Be sure to enter the draw for the door prizes. You could be a winner in more than one way."

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[Lineup for food]Today's buffet of news notes

Pictured at left are a few of the 1,200 people who attended Tuesday’s “appreciation” lunch for faculty and staff. (At centre in the background, that’s Alan George, associate provost and acting vice-president, who was among the hosts along with the rest of UW’s Executive Council.) Another 140 people were fed and entertained at the repeat event for night shift staff. “Everyone seemed to appreciate the UW Grow seeds,” says [Flower, black and gold]Catharine Scott, associate provost (human resources and student services), referring to a souvenir distributed at the lunch. “UW has a lot of gardeners, and everyone likes Black-eyed Susans — Warrior colours. . . . The day was perfect, the staff and faculty all seemed to be in good spirits, the food was great and everyone seemed to have a good time.” She gave credit to colleagues who made the event happen — Trenny Canning of the secretariat, Bonnie Oberle of development and alumni affairs, Tami Everding of the provost’s office, Neil Murray of human resources, and co-op student Sheryl-Ann Schrik, working for the 50th Anniversary committee — "not to mention great Food Services staff who did their usual terrific job”.

During the lunch event, a winning ticket was drawn in round 2 of the anniversary raffle. The prize in this round was a total of $2,500 in gift certificates to local restaurants, and it goes to an off-campus winner, Rob Fitzpatrick of Waterloo. “Bruce Mitchell is very happy to have sold him the winning ticket,” Scott reports (Mitchell is another of UW’s top executives, the associate provost for academic and student affairs).

The Hallman visiting professorship lecture series — “Aging, Health and Well-being” — continues today. "The Hallman lecture series allows us to share with the community the knowledge that these speakers are bringing to students in our new interdisciplinary PhD program in aging, health and well-being," says Richard Hughson, associate dean (graduate studies and research) in applied health science. "The speakers will share the practical aspects of their research to help community workers, seniors and their families understand and even slow the aging process." Today it's Len Gray of the University of Queensland, Australia, speaking on "Express Lanes and Collectors: Using Decision-Making to Ease Traffic Congestion in Acute Care". The talk starts at 3:30 p.m. in room 1621 of the Hallman Institute wing of Matthews Hall. Admission is free.

The author of the award-winning book What the Best College Teachers Do — Ken Bain of Montclair State University in New Jersey — will be at UW next week, speaking Monday on "What Makes Great Teachers Great". Bain, a flyer explains, will explore "the major conclusions of his fifteen-year study of sixty-three successful university teachers who achieved their success by creating natural, critical learning environments". The talk (2:00 in the Humanities Theatre) is open to all, and will be followed by a wine and cheese reception. It's the one fully public event in a three-day "Learning About Teaching" symposium, which is organized by the Teaching Excellence Council of top UW teachers. Bain will be involved on the next day of the symposium as well, presenting a pair of workshops on "Teaching Large Classes" and "Developing the Promising Syllabus". More information about the whole symposium, as well as the Excellence Council, is available online. Next week's event also serves as a celebration of the launch of UW's new Centre for Teaching Excellence, being created from multiple existing offices, and headed by English professor Catherine Schryer.

The faculty of engineering is accepting nominations (but only until Monday) for this year's Alumni Achievement Medals. • Volunteers and groups interested in the city of Waterloo 150th anniversary parade, to be held on Sunday, May 27, can call 519-888-6356 ext. 23 for information. • Tomorrow's the deadline to apply for Innovation Challenge Awards offered by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council for graduate students who can "identify what potential product or service could be generated" from their thesis results.


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