Last week, postsecondary institutions held events and gatherings to commemorate Red Dress Day. Niagara College lowered its flags to half-mast, displayed red dresses on campus, and asked its community to wear red in recognition of the violence faced by Indigenous women, girls and two-spirited people. The University of Manitoba hosted events including a red dress pin workshop led by artist Gerri-Lee Pangman, and the University of Saskatchewan hosted speakers and performances encouraging reflection. In Alberta, a walk was held at Medicine Hat College to draw attention to violence faced by Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirited people; and Mount Royal University displayed red dresses on campus to raise awareness. The University of Victoria encouraged its community members to attend community events and consult readings and resources to expand their knowledge and awareness.
Canadore College has launched the Zero Emission Training Centre which is focused on preparing students for a sustainable future. The centre will offer training to students on technologies including electric vehicles, battery electric recreational vehicles, and yard tools. Canadore will begin offering zero emissions training in the Fall, and training will be packaged to meet employer needs. “The new training centre will modernize our facilities to attract more students to the trades, provide training on battery electric engines to upgrade the skills of Ontario’s skilled trades’ workforce, and facilitate collaboration with industry to identify new and emerging training needs,” said Canadore President George Burton. The Government of Ontario has contributed over $330K toward the training centre.
A new AI-powered chatbot created by Toronto Metropolitan University Professor Dr Sean Wise is providing students with feedback to help them prepare for exams. ProfBot™ is powered by ChatGPT and uses an interface similar to a chat tool. The chatbot quizzes students on course material, and students “text” with the AI by inputting answers to questions. The AI then provides feedback about how students can improve and suggests areas of focus. “We know there is a strong correlation between student engagement and student success, and that was true here,” said Wise, who noted that students who used ProfBot™ improved more on their final exams than their peers who had not used it.
“Universities should look like the communities we live and work in,” writes Vancouver Island University President Dr Deborah Saucier in an editorial for the Vancouver Sun. Saucier writes that universities should be a welcoming space for everyone, and that increasing the accessibility of universities can help those facing barriers to higher education to realize their educational dreams and go on to fill job vacancies. The author notes that more must also be done to decolonize university systems and processes to ensure that they are welcoming to Indigenous students, and highlights how postsecondary institutions are an essential source of hope. “Without hopeful people, we can’t have healthy, thriving communities,” writes Saucier. “We must make sure our doors are open as wide as possible.”
Universities across Canada have recently made statements regarding partnerships with Huawei after the University of Waterloo announced it would end existing partnerships with the company. The University of Toronto recently announced its decision to not enter into new research agreements with Huawei and noted that it is establishing a research security office. McGill University also said that it will not pursue further contracts with Huawei. Both the University of Saskatchewan and Carleton University said that they do not have current research agreements with Huawei. The University of Calgary said that its active research partnerships are ending in 2023 or 2024, but did not say if it will pursue new partnerships with the company.
The University of Lethbridge’s Faculty of Education is adding a Literacies and Numeracies critical study theme option for Master of Education students. MEd (General) in Literacies and Numeracies students will be prepared to teach foundational reading and numeracy skills and to develop and assess their students’ literacy and numeracy skills. “This is also a program for teachers who are looking to be reinvigorated, who are looking for opportunities to think deeply about their practice, who are considering formal and informal leadership opportunities,” said ULethbridge Associate Dean, Graduate Studies and Research, Dr David Slomp.
Centennial College has received a $2M gift that will support student success and environmental sustainability. The gift focuses on enhancing student access and accelerating sustainability. The funds will be used for four major initiatives, which include full-tuition scholarships in sustainability-focused programs; investment in the college’s SDG Innovation Lab; accelerating progress through Centennial’s Applied Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurial Services; and a new LEED Gold and WELL Silver-certified expansion. Centennial says that this is the largest private donation in its history.
In a recent interview with EdTech, Michelle Pacansky-Brock discusses how humanizing asynchronous learning can support students in their learning. Pacansky-Brock describes how voice and video elements in her classes fostered an effective asynchronous online environment and supported the social and emotional aspects of learning. To counter the narrative that technology is dehumanizing, Pacansky-Brock recommends that leaders support instructors in optimizing technology use, provide professional development for faculty, and consider how asynchronous courses contribute to inclusion and belonging.
The University of Toronto will be launching the GSK Chair in Vaccine Education and Practice-Oriented Tools thanks to a $2M investment from GSK. The chair will be based at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy and will focus on building on current knowledge and training to prepare pharmacists for their role as primary care service providers. It will also develop models of vaccine care that build trust and improve health outcomes for patients and communities.
The Government of Nova Scotia has announced that it is collaborating with Dalhousie University to establish a physician assistant training program. CBC reports that Dal’s physician assistant program could have up to 24 seats and would be a two-year master’s level program. Gregory Ells, a senior executive director with the province’s Advanced Education Department, said that plans are in their early stages but that the hope is that the program can be put in place for the 2023-24 academic year.