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Thursday, January 20, 2005

  • Next dean announced for AHS faculty
  • Undergrad conference opens in Toronto
  • Online project teaches literary skills
  • Feds' VP 'stuck in Pakistan'
Chris Redmond

Mourning in Azerbaijan


Next dean announced for AHS faculty

Roger Mannell, (left) a professor in the department of recreation and leisure studies, will become dean of the faculty of applied health sciences on July 1, the president announced yesterday.

According to the usual procedure, the appointment was approved by the university senate (at its meeting Monday night) and the board of governors executive yesterday on behalf of the board. Mannell, who takes over from Mike Sharratt as dean, will serve for a five-year term beginning July 1.

Says a memo issued by the president: "Professor Mannell completed his PhD in Psychology at the University of Windsor in 1977. Before joining the University of Waterloo in 1979, he was Director of the Centre of Leisure Studies at Acadia University in Nova Scotia. During his tenure at UW, he has served as Chair of the Department of Recreation & Leisure Studies and of Dance. He is cross appointed to the Department of Health Studies & Gerontology, and was recently elected President of the prestigious Academy of Leisure Sciences, 2004-2005.

"Roger's work is focused on the psychological study of leisure and time use, and he has employed a variety of research methodologies, including laboratory studies and the experiential sampling method. In particular, he has been interested, in social and personality factors that influence the ways in which people choose to use their leisure and how these choices affect the quality of their lives.

"Currently, his research includes examining the impact of time pressure and stress on adolescent time, family leisure and lifestyles (work-family interface), the relationship between the use of leisure and mental health, and stress/ trauma and coping among urban aboriginal peoples with diabetes. Recent research grants and contracts have been funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Canadian Institute for Health Information, and Canadian Population Health Initiative."

The president wrote that the appointment "has very strong support within the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences. He is well respected and highly committed to his Faculty and the University as a whole. I look forward to continuing our working relationship."

Undergrad conference opens in Toronto

About 100 UW students, mostly in engineering, will be missing class today and tomorrow for the best of reasons: they'll be attending the sixth annual Canadian Undergraduate Technology Conference, organized mostly by UW students and being held in downtown Toronto.

The conference "has grown to amazing heights", says one of the organizing committee, biology student Dinu Nesan. "It's absolutely amazing how much can be done with just dedication," Nesan said in a note early today from the Holiday Inn on King Street, where CUTC will begin at 9:30 with a keynote address by David Yach of Research in Motion. "It's mind-boggling," Nesan added.

Says a news release: "This year's conference will bring together over 500 students from all over Canada, ranging from coast to coast. These bright minds will get to meet dozens of speakers from all across North America, as well as company representatives from major industry leaders.

"This year's conference is revamped and revitalized. With major sponsorship from Bell and Microsoft, a host of new events have been planned. Chief among these is the Canadian kickoff for the Imagine Cup competition. The Imagine Cup is an international challenge designed to blend creativity and technology, as well as inspire a generation of future leaders to think about innovation in the world today. Winners get a chance to travel to Japan and compete for huge prizes.

"Among the major speakers present at CUTC this year are Amazon CTO Allan Vermeulen, IBM VP Alan Ganek, and Joel Spolsky, of joelonsoftware.org fame. These are just a handful of the great speakers who will be speaking to delegates at the three-day conference. Delegates will also have the chance to attend workshops, topics include developing for the Blackberry platform (a workshop designed by RIM), and a tutorial for creating an appealing resume."

Christopher Tan, CUTC's co-chair along with Hisham Al-Shurafa, says: "The CUTC is such an amazing opportunity for students to gain an experience far beyond anything else available. The chance to interact with and learn from these industry giants is like a graduate course in technology!"

Major sponsors for this year's conference are Bell, Microsoft, and RIM, with other contributions coming from IBM, Deloitte and Nortel.

Online project teaches literary skills-- by Katherine Acheson, department of English

If we live in an information age, then research skills -- information location, retrieval, organization and preliminary application -- are essential skills for us all. In English studies, we have traditionally focused our pedagogy on critical thinking, reading and writing skills. But as professional writers, researchers and critics, we have highly developed abilities to get into, and make sense of, the infosphere. My Learning Initiatives Fund project is intended to bring some of those skills -- usually taught at the graduate level in English studies -- to mid- and upper-level undergraduate students in English studies.

[Acheson] Katherine Acheson (left) is a member of the Teaching Based Research Group, a forum for creating and reporting on teaching innovations. More information about the TBRG is available from Vivian Schoner in the Centre for Learning and Teaching Through Technology.
The examples I am using in this project are specific to literary studies, but the approaches and methodologies the project is designed to teach are models for research-based enquiry into any humanities discipline or field, and many of those in the social sciences. We hope that we can build on this project to develop similar modules for other areas of study, beginning with the study of rhetoric and communication design (literary studies' sister discipline in UW's unique English department).

The project will develop (and test) a set of units designed to show students how to use resources in print and digital collections. There will be three units reflecting the three main forms of literary research. The first will offer advanced instruction in the use of large print and digital collections of literary materials, and introduce students to the principles and practices of scholarly editing. The second will focus on secondary sources, and help students to locate, assess and organize examples of critical commentary. It will also include instruction in the use of on-line databases, on-line and print journals, and documentation practices. The third unit will be called "Resources for Contextual Study," and will help students to define and use sources that will help them understand and report on the social and intellectual surroundings of literary works.

[Web page with introduction]

Cara Leitch-Thompson, Brooklin Schneider and Marlon Griffith designed and built a prototype for a section of Acheson's project in Arts 303. It introduces students to the structure and use of Early English Books On-Line, a huge, specialized database essential to historical studies of English writing.

The digital delivery of the project will allow me to give demonstrations of the use of various interfaces, both digital and print, and to build interactive exercises. Assignments will be keyed to the units: for instance, a small editorial project could be the assignment for the first unit, a bibliography of secondary materials would suit the second, and a report on selected cultural features could be the third. The units will be flexible enough, that is, to be adapted to particular course content, and yet rigorous enough to impart important and generalizable skills.

In the fall term, a graduate research assistant did groundwork for the project, and a team of three undergraduates in Arts 303 (two from English and one from computer science) developed a learning object guiding users through the use of the rich and complex database Early English Books OnLine, acquired by UW's library last year. This work will be integrated into the final project -- and Cara Leitch-Thompson and Brooklin Schneider will present a paper on their Arts 303 project at a conference in February at the University of California at Berkeley.

This term I am working on designing the interface for the project and assembling and composing the content. We will be able to do limited field-testing of the module next fall, in English 301H, a gateway course for English literature honours students, and see then what the next job should be.

Blood donor clinic continues (through Friday) 10:00 to 4:00, Student Life Centre.

Waterloo-Germany exchange program information session 1:00, Modern Languages room 245, details online.

'Indigenous Knowledge and New Scientific Discoveries', talk by Lenore Keeshig Tobias, 5 p.m., MacKirdy Hall, St. Paul's United College.

Fully graded date: fall term marks for undergraduate students available on Quest Friday. Spring term on-line enrolment appointments (March 14 through April 2) posted on Quest.

'Risky Business: Decision Making Under Pressure', workshop sponsored by Centre for Family Business, Friday at Bingemans, Kitchener, information 749-1441.

Engineering alumni ski day Friday at Collingwood, details online.

Computer science distinguished lecture: Jim Mitchell, Sun Microsystems, "Towards a Peta-Scale Supercomputer", Friday 4:15, Davis Centre room 1350.

'Fantastic Alumni and Staff Day' at Warrior basketball games Saturday (women's game 1 p.m., men's game 3 p.m.), Physical Activities Complex, details online.

David Suzuki campus visit January 26 for launch of the One-Tonne Challenge: student symposium 4:30, Student Life Centre; 8 p.m. lecture, Theatre of the Arts (sold out).

Sex columnist Josey Vogels speaks on "The Mysteries and Pleasures of Modern Love and Courtship", sponsored by Arts Student Union, January 26, 5:30, Arts Lecture Hall room 113, free.

Feds' VP 'stuck in Pakistan' -- a statement issued yesterday by the Federation of Students

[Afzaal] The Federation of Students has been short-staffed since the start of January as vice-president (administration and finance) Raveel Afzaal (right) has been stuck in his native Pakistan. His unfortunate absence is the result of visa difficulties experienced after he returned home for the holiday break.

"We have been working with the university since we learned of Raveel's difficulties early this month and are doing everything we can to expedite his return," said Becky Wroe, president of the Federation. "His visa appeal is being heard on Monday at which point we will know whether he will be able to return for this term."

The problem for Afzaal is presumed to come from working full-time with the Federation during the period of his student visa. Though changes were made, there has been difficulty thus far in convincing the Pakistani authorities Afzaal will complete his degree and return to his home country. The university has written a letter on his behalf.

"In the interim, we have divided responsibilities for Afzaal's position amongst the remaining executive during what is effectively his temporary suspension of duties," explained Wroe. "As for what we will or will not be able to accomplish this term due to his hopefully temporary absence, those things will become apparent as we move forward. What is most important now is getting students engaged in the upcoming dental plan and orientation fee referenda. Only after those are completed, we will be in a better position to evaluate what can and cannot get completed this term."

If Afzaal is not allowed to return, it will be the second year in a row a Federation vice-president (A&F) does not complete his term. Last year, Dave Capper left the Federation on February 13th to pursue another job. "If it happens, we'll work through this and do so in part by focusing on transition early, beginning after our successors are chosen in the upcoming elections," said Jeff Henry, vice-president (education). "By starting the learning curve early, we can ensure the Federation continues to do as much as it can for Waterloo students."


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