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Wednesday, April 11, 2001

  • UW voices to join Québec protests
  • Computing courses offered to instructors
  • MIT to put courses on the web

UW voices to join Québec protests -- from today's Gazette

[Summit logo] They'll be wearing wings and waving pompoms, and they go in peace. They're the UW demonstrators hoping to use art and street theatre to convey a serious message at the Summit of the Americas in Québec City next week.

Math student Aylwin Lo is working with a group dubbed Art+Revolution to create an eye-catching collection of wings worn by protestors, symbolizing the freedom of flight -- and expressing their concerns about the erosion of that freedom through globalization.

The Art+Revolution initiative started with students working with the Waterloo Public Interest Research Group, says Lo, and spread through the community. The art project is just one of a series of smaller groups that was formed following an organizational meeting in February.

Lo sees art as "a way of conveying a message on another level. A visual image can sometimes have a tremendous impact, far different from a verbal or written message." A community of winged demonstrators would illustrate "the great diversity of interests -- political, cultural, geographical, socioeconomic -- that should be considered by the summit," says Lo, and, as well, would "help to relieve the tension at the protest. It's a way to share common interests, to build community, not just to protest" about an expanded North American Free Trade Agreement, which could encompass most of North and South America by 2005.

Environmental studies student Sarah Kerton will be among the dozen or so members of a Radical Cheerleader squad taking their pompoms of shredded garbage bags and popsicle sticks to Québec City. Formed on campus this year, the troupe is part of an international Radical Cheerleader movement which uses street theatre as a form of "interactive non-violent public protest," says Kerton.

Both men and women dress up in cheerleader skirts and funky accessories in the anarchist colours of black and red, creating unorthodox routines to accompany their "cheers". "It's a fun way of approaching activism," says Kerton.

While the cheerleaders will divide into low-risk and higher-risk groups, depending on whether they prefer to avoid arrest or take their chances in the "hot zones," where arrests are more likely, Lo is hoping to make a statement without getting arrested. He's applied for media accreditation to cover the event for Imprint, and since he's starting a co-op term this month -- and plans pursue a teaching career -- he intends to keep a low profile at the summit.

While more than 150 UW students are expected be heading to Québec City via buses, vans and car pools, others will be participating in a protest against global capitalism planned for Saturday, April 21, at Kitchener City Hall.

Double cohort talk

Peter Burroughs, director of admissions, will speak on "Secondary School Reform in Ontario and the Double Cohort" at 12 noon today in Davis Centre room 1302, in a talk sponsored by the Employee Assistance Program. "There is a great deal of uncertainty and fear among students, their parents and secondary school officials," says Burroughs. "This presentation will address some of these issues."

Computing courses offered to instructors

The information systems and technology department is presenting a series of Skills for the Academic electronic Workplace (SAW) workshops for course instructors during the last two weeks of April. The following workshops will be given: Further information and a registration form can be found on the web.

MIT to put courses on the web -- from a news release by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology will make the materials for nearly all its courses freely available on the Internet over the next ten years.

President Vest focused on how OpenCourseWare reflected the idealism of the MIT faculty and the core educational mission of MIT in his remarks to print and television reporters. "As president of MIT, I have come to expect top-level innovative and intellectually entrepreneurial ideas from the MIT community. When we established the Council on Educational Technology at MIT, we charged a sub-group with coming up with a project that reached beyond our campus classrooms.

Globe and Mail reports on reactions
"I have to tell you that we went into this expecting that something creative, cutting-edge and challenging would emerge. And, frankly, we also expected that it would be something based on a revenue-producing model -- a project or program that took into account the power of the Internet and its potential for new applications in education.

"OpenCourseWare looks counter-intuitive in a market driven world. It goes against the grain of current material values. But it really is consistent with what I believe is the best about MIT. It is innovative. It expresses our belief in the way education can be advanced -- by constantly widening access to information and by inspiring others to participate.

"OpenCourseWare combines two things: the traditional openness and outreach and democratizing influence of American education and the ability of the Web to make vast amounts of information instantly available.

"Let me be clear: We are not providing an MIT education on the Web. We are providing our core materials that are the infrastructure that undergirds an MIT education. Real education requires interaction, the interaction that is part of American teaching. We think that OpenCourseWare will make it possible for faculty here and elsewhere to concentrate even more on the actual process of teaching, on the interactions between faculty and students that are the real core of learning."

The OpenCourseWare project will begin as a large-scale pilot program over the next two years. The first steps include design of the software and services needed to support such a large endeavor, as well as protocols to monitor and assess its utilization by faculty and students at MIT and throughout the world. By the end of the two-year period, it is expected that materials for more than 500 courses would be available on the MIT OpenCourseWare site.

Institutions around the world could make direct use of the MIT OpenCourseWare materials as references and sources for curriculum development. These materials might be of particular value in developing countries that are trying to expand their higher education systems rapidly.

Individual learners could draw upon the materials for self-study or supplementary use.

"By making up-to-date educational content widely available," MIT provost Robert A. Brown said, "OpenCourseWare will focus faculty efforts on teaching and learning on their campuses. It also will facilitate a new style of national and global collaboration in education through the sharing of educational content and the potential of telecommunications for real-time interactions."


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