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Wednesday, May 15, 2002

  • Electronic classroom kept busy
  • Grebel names its next president
  • The talk of the campus
Chris Redmond

St. Mary's University celebrates its 200th

[Earphones and laptops]

In the FLEX lab, Catherine Burns of systems design engineering joins in video discussion with Waterloo and Carleton students.

Electronic classroom kept busy

The "flexible learning experience" lab in the Dana Porter Library "enjoyed its heaviest use ever" during the winter term, say its proud sponsors at the LT3 technology centre.

Thre so-called FLEX lab is one of the most sophisticated teaching rooms on a campus with quite a range of electronic classrooms. (Among them are the WEEF "graphics" lab beloved of first-year engineers, the new multimedia lab in engineering, a videoconferencing room, and so on. And the language labs in Modern Languages are being completely renovated this summer to bring them out of the cassette tape era.)

It was created in 2000 by LT3 -- formally the Centre For Learning and Teaching Through Technology -- and UW's library, and can be found on the third floor of Dana Porter, in room 329.

Says a memo from Peter Goldsworthy of LT3: "This past term the FLEX Lab enjoyed its heaviest use ever, with LT3, Library and Faculty use all on the rise. Faculty use was the most dramatic increase, with three Faculties and five departments participating in seven courses being offered through the nurturing FLEX environment."

One of those courses came straight from LT3: "Designing Learning Activities with Interactive Multimedia", the well-known IS 303A course that's about to be reborn as Arts 303. It was taught this winter by Tracy Penny Light, course developer at LT3.

The English department "led the pack with three separate offerings", says Goldsworthy, including Neil Randall's English 794F, which is a graduate course covering the analysis of computer interfaces from a rhetorical and social semiotic perspective, and the design of additional interface components. Andy McMurry also offered Electric Writing: Theory, Design, Practice, and Catherine Schryer team-taught Qualitative Research Methods with LT3's Vivian Schoner."

Mat Schulze of Germanic and Slavic studies, along with LT3's Schoner, offered the graduate course Issues in Teaching, Learning and Technologies, "where an intense look at issues of technology interrelated pedagogy were engaged". Mieke Delfgauuw taught an environmental studies course on "Community, Development and Environment" in the FLEX "for a number of reasons including the use of the Data projector and the SMART Board, which is an interactive whiteboard. It allows you to touch its surface, thereby interacting with computer applications being projected onto its surface. The SMART Board is also equipped with electronic pens which allow you to write on the surface, interacting with existing displays, and, if desired, capturing the data for distribution later."

But, says Goldsworthy, "The most intriguing use of the FLEX lab might be Catherine Burns's course, Systems Design Engineering 542, Interface Design. This course was supported as part of an LT3 research project, PLIANT. While Professor Burns was teaching kinesiology, engineering and computer science students in the FLEX lab, she was linked by IP video-conference with Carleton University, where students from psychology joined her course. This cross-discipline, cross-institution, joint offering in two places at one time was an interesting study of how technology aids learning through point-to-point (full class to full class) discussions, and break-out groups (using individual small cameras and microphones for group work)."

He says the spring term will be quieter than the winter was, "but LT3 is encouraged with the greater desire of faculty to try new methods of addressing students -- methods which may foster greater learning and certainly offer answers to more learning styles."

Anybody interested in running a seminar, presentation or class in the FLEX Lab can get in touch with Goldsworthy at ext. 7008 or peter@LT3 for more information or an orientation session. The FLEX Lab can comfortably hold up to 40 people sharing IBM laptop computers (or 20 individuals each with their own machine) and can hold a maximum of 60 people for other events.


Grebel names its next president

Henry Paetkau, a UW graduate and a long-time Mennonite minister, will be the next president of Conrad Grebel University College, the Mennonite college affiliated with Waterloo.

The announcement comes in the name of Carolyn Sherk, chair of the board of governors of Grebel, who said Paetkau would take over at Grebel January 1, 2003, succeeding John Toews. Toews has been president of Grebel since 1996, and will retire at the end of this year.

Paetkau has a BA in history and religious studies (1976) and an MA in history (1977) from Waterloo, and PhD in history from the University of Western Ontario (1986). A Grebel news release describes him as "a long time leader" in the Mennonite Church of Ontario and Canada: "He has served as a pastor for 22 years in three different churches of the Mennonite Church Eastern Canada (Harrow Mennonite Church, Windsor Mennonite Fellowship, Grace Mennonite Church in St. Catharines). Since 2000 he has served as the Denominational Minister of Mennonite Church Canada with offices in Winnipeg. In addition, he has served on many denominational Boards, including eight years on the Board of Conrad Grebel College (1988-1996). Most recently he served on the Program Transformation Team of Mennonite Church Canada."

Paetkau and his wife, Leonora, have four daughters, including one who is currently a student at Grebel.

"We are pleased," Sherk stated in making the announcement, "to be able to appoint a person with Dr. Paetkau's long experience of church leadership and strong commitment to the mission of Conrad Grebel University College. The Board of Governors, faculty and staff will work with Dr. Paetkau to build on the accomplishments of the recent years and plans for future growth at the College."


Most of these polls are aimed at anybody who reads the Daily Bulletin, but today's question is for current UW students only, please.

How many of your parents graduated from university?

  Two or more


Results of Monday's poll

Would knowing that a store has a 'No Sweatshop' policy encourage you to purchase from that store?

Yes -- 233
Maybe, depending on price and selection -- 164
No -- 121

The talk of the campus

The UW Retirees Association holds its annual meeting this afternoon (1:30, in room 102 West of the Ron Eydt Village conference centre). "A representative of the University Police will be on hand to guide members to parking," the meeting notice promises, and I don't think that's a reflection on any disorderly tendencies among the members. The meeting will do what annual meetings do -- hear reports from the executive, on topics ranging from the association's own finances to its scholarship and bursary programs. The UW association will be represented in Toronto May 31 at a meeting to discuss formation of a country-wide College and University Retiree Associations of Canada.

The UW-based Waterloo Public Interest Research Group has received a grant from the provincially funded Ontario Trillium Foundation, to support its work towards cutting down air pollution from motor vehicles. Trillium has given WPIRG $108,600 over two years "for the coordination and implementation of a community-based social marketing initiative to significantly improve air quality within Waterloo Region in partnership with the Citizen's Advisory Committee on Air Quality".

Tim Topper, distinguished professor emeritus in civil engineering at UW, received the Fatigue Achievement Award from ASTM International, an organization that operates some 130 technical standards-writing committees. One of those committees deals with "fatigue and fracture", and that's the one that has honoured Topper for his contributions to the field. An ASTM member since 1968, Topper is a member of the committee in question, as well as a member of the Fatigue Design and Evaluation Committee of the Society of Automotive Engineers. Affiliated with UW for his entire professional career, Topper began his years here as a lecturer in civil engineering after receiving his PhD in engineering from Cambridge University, England. He previously earned a bachelor's in civil engineering from the University of Toronto. Topper has concentrated on investigating fatigue behavior of small cracks growing from notches and the effect of overloads on their crack closure level and crack growth rates.

Events today

Thinking about graduate studies? The co-op and career services department offers a workshop about that option today at 3:30; the career resource centre in Needles Hall will have details.

The spring term meeting of the news organization uwstudent.org will be held at 5:00 today in the great hall of the Student Life Centre.

Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) will hold a general information meeting at 5:30 tonight in Math and Computer room 4021. "Any students, faculty, staff or alumni with an interest in the aerospace industry are invited to become involved. Club activities include speakers, field trips, skydiving and a telescope array project."

There's dinner tonight at 6:00 in Ground Zero restaurant in the Student Life Centre. Says a note I received last night: "$10 tickets at the door get you a lasagna dinner. You are assigned a random seat to make it easy to meet people from all over campus. Everyone is welcome." the event is presented by the Muskoka Club, billing itself as "Waterloo's Official Party Club". This wants looking into.

UW's Carousel Dance Centre will hold its spring performances -- isn't it amazing what children can do? -- at 6:30 tonight and tomorrow night in the Humanities Theatre.

The popular "Career Development Manual" produced by UW's career services department is now reaching a wider audience. (I'll be saying more about that in the Daily Bulletin shortly.) It's now for sale at Chapters stores in Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph and London. Tonight, the woman behind it, training and development coordinator Kerry Mahoney, will be at Chapters in Waterloo tonight, running a free workshop from 7:30 to 8:30 detailing how to write an effective resum´ along the lines recommended in the book. Mahoney has visits to other Chapters stores planned in the next few days.

A UW spinoff company started by two faculty members in electrical and computer engineering is in the news: they've received what is described as "the first venture capital investment in the area this year". The company is SlipStream Data, the faculty members are En-hui Yang and Ajit Singh, and the money is $1.5 million from Toronto-based EdgeStone Capital Partners. Says a news release explaining why the capitalists think the little firm has promise: "SlipStream's patent-pending technology permits improved corporate productivity by increasing an organization's ability to cost-effectively serve the communication needs of both its internal and external customers. SlipStream Data utilizes lossless data compression and advanced network and content optimization technologies to create a solution for end-users, application developers and service providers. In addition, in a rapidly expanding market, SlipStream makes its lossless data compression technology available to corporations and individuals who are installing and adopting wireless and mobile networks -- thus saving considerable time and money in the development of complex end-user applications."

The department of Spanish and Latin American studies issued some proud news recently: the presentation of awards to several students at the end of the 2001-02 academic year. Winners of the J. C. McKegney Awards for fourth-year students were Danielle Beiber and Rita Palacios. The Dean of Arts Work Term Award went to Bieber as well. And Spanish Embassy Book Prizes were presented to Palacios (senior), Amy Scholl (intermediate), and Rebecca Watchorn (beginning).

Awards news from the psychology department: Melissa McFadden, an honours student in psych, has won an $8,000 Canadian Language and Literacy Summer Research Fellowship to work for researcher Laurel Trainor in the psychology department at McMaster University. McFadden will be assisting in EEG measures of auditory perception in infants. Eleven third-year students in various fields, from universities across Canada, received such fellowships for this summer. Before starting their four-month experience, the students were guests at the annual general meeting of the Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network in Ottawa earlier this month.

And also from psych: The department of psychology will hold a retirement party on Friday, June 7, for long-time faculty member Richard Steffy. The reception will be from 4:30 to 6:30 at the University Club, followed by dinner at 6:30. RSVPs are due by May 16 to Kathy Blom (kblom@uwaterloo.ca); the price for dinner is $25. More information is available from Blom at ext. 5099.



May 15, 1965: A dinner-dance is held to celebrate the 100th birthday of St. Jerome's College.

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