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Thursday, May 20, 1999

  • Teens are here for French prizes
  • Waterloo as 'smart community'
  • Distance education questioned in US
  • A little of this and that


Teens are here for French prizes

A York District School Board student was the overall winner in this year's UW French contest and has won a trip to France. He'll be on campus this evening to be congratulated.

Anthony Collins of Thornlea Secondary School in Thornhill came out on top among finalists from 53 high schools in southwestern Ontario at the recent 26th annual contest. It was conducted by the department of French studies at UW. Participating schools from 10 school boards were represented by up to three contestants, said Pat Aplevich, contest chair.

Collins, who also achieved the top mark on the written portion of the test and received the $100 Dean of Arts Award, will enjoy a two-week, home-stay holiday in France donated by Red Leaf Language Programs of Toronto. His return flight is funded by The MelocheMonnex Insurance Co. of Toronto. As well, his school won the team trophy for highest total marks. The school was represented by Collins (first), Christina Marshall (second), Audrey Ngo (fifth), and coach/French teacher Sharon Brown.

Thornlea's Marshall, as second overall winner, received $500, while the Canadian Federation of University Women, K-W, third-place prize of $250 was won by Eva Mroczek of Holy Name of Mary Secondary School (Dufferin-Peel Catholic School Board) in Mississauga. Fourth prize of $150 was won by Marcin Wrona of Glenforest Secondary School, (Peel District School Board), and the fifth-place $100 prize winner was Thornlea's Ngo.

Other prizes including cheques, plaques and books will also be handed out tonight at a banquet in the Laurel Room, South Campus Hall. Contest winners and their French teachers will be the French department's guests for dinner. The 1999 French Contest and Awards banquet "would not be possible", says Aplevich, without the generous support of sponsors that range from the Ontario Modern Language Teachers Association to several publishers, other corporations, St. Paul's United College and the UW dean of arts.

Waterloo as 'smart community'

The city of Waterloo is well on its way to being a "smart community", UW's president-to-be said yesterday to an audience of people from high-tech businesses and dignitaries that included local mayors.

His luncheon audience responded with enthusiastic applause to his half-hour talk, which included a demonstration of how much he's learned about the local style and heritage before he even takes office as UW's chief executive. He touched on Conestoga wagons, the Kitchener Dutchmen who played in the 1956 Olympics, the reliability of Bauer skates and the local plethora of churches.

"How we go, so goes the rest of the country," said David Johnston, speaking in Federation Hall at an event organized by UW's Infranet Project and the Communitech organization of people from high-tech companies. "This community," he told his audience, "has demonstrated that we can have equality of opportunity, and excellence too. . . . Entrepreneurship and self-reliance flourish here."

And he said K-W, always a city of mixed industry that took advantage of technology, has been characterized by "more than ingenuity -- it was ingenuity plus civility; a character trait of modesty and understatement; social responsibility to those of lesser means".

The University of Waterloo was founded in 1957, he said, by "practical people who looked to practical solutions for their problems", and so created an institution marked by "innovation". That's the right background, Johnston told his audience, for the next kind of innovation, turning K-W into a "smart community" of the kind envisioned by the national panel that he chaired last year, in which vast amounts of information are electronically available for individuals to use to improve their work and their lives.

Government is now prepared, he noted, to spend millions to make Canada "the most connected nation in the world by the year 2000", and there's been one major achievement: apart from tiny Singapore, "we are the first nation to have every school and every public library connected to the Internet."

Just last week, the city government, with support from computer experts at UW's Infranet, launched the Waterloo Information Network, designed to connect local websites and provide a mass of data about the city for businesses and individuals to use -- "to improve their lives", Johnston said. He said WIN "contains the essential elements of what I believe is a 'smart community' initiative".

All such projects need to be aimed at a triangle of goals, he said, naming them as wealth creation, social cohesiveness, and political liberty. "It is the wisdom and the wit and the thoughtfulness of people in how we use those tools that will determine the kind of society we have."

Distance education questioned in US

American educators are taking a hard second look at the whole question of university-level distance education, after two reports were made public that question how effective "correspondence" programs are and how much they really do to make education "accessible".

One report came in early April from the Institute for Higher Education Policy. It says the many enthusiasts of distance education are basing their views on studies that have been poorly done and look only at small-scale courses, not whole programs of education. Such studies, the IHEP report says, also typically ignore the dropout rate in courses that are taught by mail or over the Internet.

"Most of the research is based on anecdotal evidence offered by persons and institutions with vested interests in the techniques being evaluated or in the very programs they are evaluating," the report says.

A day later, the second report came from the College Board, an agency concerned with student accessibility to higher education in the United States. It warns that education that's offered on the Internet -- where the action is these days -- is available to some groups of people but not to others.

"While education is the great equalizer," they write, "technology appears to be a new engine of inequality." "Those with limited computer experience will be handicapped in their ability to access knowledge and avail themselves of the ever increasing variety of learning experiences."

Not everyone agrees. At the University of Houston, which has the biggest distance education program in the heavily populated state of Texas, the Daily Cougar newspaper reports some dissent:

Proponents of the Distance Education program at UH disagree with the reports, saying major benefits of the technology are the degree of education it makes available to students.

Marshall Schott, associate director of distance education, said he has not seen many dropouts in the UH program. "(Dropouts) are relatively low and compare closely to those on campus," he said. . . .

He said the University has done its best to improve accessibility. "We've tried to address that issue, making sure that computing sites off campus are available to the public," he said.

A little of this and that

Staff members will be getting notice of their 1999 salary increases "in the next day or so", says Freddie Swainston of the human resources department. Individual increases were effective May 1, based on this spring's performance appraisals and a 1.5 per cent increase in pay scales. The extra money will appear first in May 28 paycheques.

Three academic talks are happening this afternoon:

And there's one this evening, as the Arriscraft Lectures continue in the school of architecture. Edward S. Casey of the State University of New York at Stony Brook will speak on "Site, Place and Space in Urban Life", at 7 p.m. in the "green room" of Environmental Studies II.

"Godspell", produced at the Waterloo Stage Theatre downtown, with much involvement from the UW drama department, continues at 8:00 tonight through Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday. Information: 888-0000.

David Wang of UW's electrical and computer engineering department, well known for his involvement in Christian popular music, writes to this effect:

I am part of a band called Critical Mass and we are doing a concert at St. Jerome's on May 25. Another artist, Angela, will also be performing. This is a benefit concert for Immaculate Heart of Mary School. The band has several alumni from UW besides myself and has several ties to St. Jerome's. This is a bit of a welcome home for us as we have never played at the university before. The concert starts at 7 p.m. Cost is $5 and tax receipts are available for donations over $10.
More information is available on the Web.

Dire warning from the registrar's office: "The absolute last day to pay fees for the Spring '99 term is May 31."

From Sherry Laverdiere in counselling services: "What are you doing with the rest of your life? Is your graduation approaching? Are you still unsure about choosing a career path? Why not join a career planning group? A new group will be starting on Monday, May 31, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. This four-week group will help you explore your personal interests, skills, values and enable you to develop a personal career plan. Contact counselling services at ext. 2655 or drop by Needles Hall 2080 to register for this workshop. Materials fee, $20."

And, from Jeff Stewart, manager of the Math Society's Right Angle Cafe: "Summer barbecues have begun. Located in the sunny outdoor courtyard of MC (southwest corner of building), we will be offering tasty barbecued treats every Tuesday and Thursday (weather permitting) throughout the spring term. Join us 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m." Hey, today's Thursday.

CAR


Editor of the Daily Bulletin: Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
credmond@uwaterloo.ca | (519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
http://www.bulletin.uwaterloo.ca | Yesterday's Bulletin
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