Thursday, January 31, 2008

  • 'Learning objectives' for every course
  • Online registration for staff training
  • Alice's geeks 'might be from Waterloo'
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Link of the day

Carnaval, Mardi Gras, Fasching

When and where

‘Less Than Par book sale’ for UW bookstore (30 per cent off already reduced prices on selected titles), final day, South Campus Hall concourse.

School of Pharmacy application deadline for January 2009 admission is today.

Islam Awareness Week sponsored by Muslim Students Association, activities include "My Journey to Islam", panel of converts, 12:00, Student Life Centre great hall, and "Malcolm X: A Muslim of the West" 7:00, Math and Computer room 2066.

Career workshop: "Interview Skills, Selling Your Skills" 3:30, Tatham Centre room 2218, registration online.

Laurel Centre for Social Entrepreneurship presents Paul Born, Tamarack Institute, "Fewer Poor, Not Better Poor", 4:30, Arts Lecture Hall room 116.

Ottawa alumni networking event 6:30 to 8:30, Canada Aviation Museum, guest speaker Peter Harder (BA 1975), former federal deputy minister, details online.

Distinguished Teacher Award nomination deadline Friday; Exceptional Teaching by a Student Award nomination deadline February 8; details online.

Information systems and technology professional development seminar: Victoria Lehmann, housing, "Living-Learning Communities", Friday 9 a.m., IST seminar room.

Keystone Treat-a-gram order deadline Friday 12:00 noon for delivery February 14.

Conrad Grebel University College Benjamin Eby Lecture: James Reimer, Grebel faculty, on the nature and task of Christian theology in the 21st century, Friday 7:30, Grebel chapel, admission free.

Gradfest 2008 presentations and exhibitors about services offered to soon-to-be UW graduates, Monday 10:00 to 7:00, Student Life Centre; reception from 4:30 p.m., Bombshelter pub, details online.

Therapeutic Recreation Awareness Week February 4-8, details online.

Engineering alumni in San Francisco reception Monday 5:30, San Francisco Marriott, details online.

UW board of governors Tuesday 2:30, CEIT room 3142.

Technical speaker competition for engineering students, sponsored by Sandford Fleming Foundation, Thursday, February 7, 12:30 p.m., Doug Wright Engineering room 2534, applications due by January 31, information ext. 37554.

'Differ/End: The Caledonia Project' researched and relived by UW drama department students, February 7-9 and 14-16 at 7:00, Studio 180, Humanities building, tickets $12 (students $10) at Humanities box office.

FASS 2008: "Global Warming: Kiss Your FASS Goodbye" February 7 and 9 at 8:00, February 8 at 7:00 and 10:00, Humanities Theatre, tickets $7 Thursday, $9 Friday and Saturday from Humanities box office, 519-888-4908.

Ski and snowboard trip to Blue Mountain, sponsored by Federation of Students and other groups, Friday, February 8, tickets from athletics office, Physical Activities Complex.

Class enrolment appointments for spring term undergraduate courses February 11-16; open enrolment begins February 19.

QPR suicide prevention training available February 11 (11:30), March 7 (12:00), April 11 (11:30), call ext. 33528 to register.

Surplus sale of UW furnishings, computers, appliances and other items, Thursday, February 14, 12:30 to 2:00, central stores, East Campus Hall.

K-W Symphony Intersections series concert: “21st Century Violin with Gilles Apap” Thursday, February 14, 7:30 p.m., Humanities Theatre, tickets 519-578-1570.

Loving to Learn Day, "an opportunity for everyone and anyone to share their reflections about their love of learning", February 15, details online.

37th annual Hagey Bonspiel for faculty, staff, retirees and friends, Saturday, February 23, Ayr Curling Club, registration online (deadline this Friday).

International Women’s Day dinner: “Celebrate women mentoring women,” Thursday, March 6, 5:00, University Club. Speakers are Emerance Baker (aboriginal services coordinator) and Susan Tighe (civil and environmental engineering); tickets $30 at Humanities box office.

UW alumni night at Toronto Raptors game Friday, March 7, 7:00 p.m.. Tickets $35 (including bus transportation from UW to Air Canada Centre and back) from alumni affairs office, details online.

'Learning objectives' for every course

Leaders of several academic departments will be invited to a day-long workshop this spring about a skill that eventually all the departments will have to demonstrate: writing course-by-course “learning objectives” to put on record just what it is that UW expects its students to learn.

Writing such specifics is going to take time, says associate vice-president (academic) Geoff McBoyle, but it’s a necessity — required by provincial procedures that UW has signed onto — and it’ll allow comparisons of UW’s curriculum and standards with those of other universities, even in an international context.

“We are one of the last few areas in the English-speaking world that does not do learning objectives,” McBoyle told UW’s senate earlier this month, saying that that’s about to change, as senate gave its approval to new “Guidelines for Academic Program Reviews”.

UW does such reviews of undergraduate programs on a seven-year cycle, and is now expected to conform to “review and audit guidelines” from the Council of Ontario Universities. In addition, McBoyle told the senate, Waterloo has agreed to use the University Undergraduate Degree Level Expectations, or UUDLEs, from another provincial group, the Ontario Council of Academic Vice-Presidents.

He said the new requirement will add to UW’s “transparency” because the exact expectations for students will be on record: take this academic program or pass this course, and here in black-and-white is a statement of what you’ll have learned.

Senate approval of the new guidelines, which imply that “learning objectives” will soon be part of the daily grind, came quickly, but not without a warning from one of its members, David De Vidi, philosophy professor and president of the faculty association. “I have colleagues who have been through nightmares” with the time-consuming work of writing such objectives, he said. “I don’t understand why we need to invest faculty time into paperwork.”

The program review guidelines include a general statement about UW, which De Vidi called “zombielike rhetoric”. It says in part: “At the heart of UW’s distinctiveness is a culture of learning that is linked to the ‘real world’ together with an innovative approach to achieving its mission, through co-operative education, distance education, technology transfer and research partnerships at the local, national and international levels.”

On the writing of course-by-course learning objectives, the rubber meets the road some time in April, when McBoyle will call together representatives of the departments whose turn for a program review comes up in 2009-10. They’ll be the first to face the new expectations. Scheduled for that honour are English, drama, philosophy, psychology, and a number of smaller arts programs, as well as environment-and-business, biology and optometry.

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Online registration for staff training

Stellar customer service, intercultural communications, successful supervision and “defining your financial future” — all are part of the EDGE program being offered this winter by the Organizational and Human Development office.

The EDGE brochure is being provided in a digital format this time round, says a memo that went out to staff members a few days ago. “The digital brochure is a PDF that can be filled out and submitted back to the OHD via email, or it can be printed off and submitted through the interoffice mail. Hard copies of the brochure have been mailed out to those staff that do not have access to e-mail. As well, hard copies of the brochure are available upon request.”

“The University is committed to lifelong learning,” says the brochure, explaining that OHD “is focused on providing opportunities for staff to develop both professionally and personally. . . . Some courses are brand new and some tried and true programs are back.”

The tried-and-true would include the Leadership for Results program, which (under a series of names) has been UW’s core training program for more than a decade. Sessions will be offered over several Thursday mornings: “The Basic Principles” on February 7, “Constructive Feedback” on February 14, and so on.

From the same source comes “Successful Supervision”, divided into two sessions (“Hallmarks of Supervisory Success” and “Delegating for Shared Success”).

Then there are “Career Planning with Personality Dimensions”, “MEET the Multigenerations”, “Managing Your Priorities”, and other courses, all half a day in length.

The programs are free for regular UW staff (with supervisor’s approval), but $50 for temporary or casual employees (including co-op students) and staff of the affiliated colleges and day care centres. Under UW policy, the brochure notes, “UW allocates staff up to 30 hours annually to pursue courses offered by the Department of Organizational & Human Development.”

Oh, yes, one more time: EDGE stands for Educate, Develop, Grow, Experience.

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Alice's geeks 'might be from Waterloo'

by Christine Dellert — a news release from the University of Central Florida

When Alice falls down the rabbit hole in the University of Central Florida’s latest high-tech theater production, she’ll end up hundreds of miles away — in Illinois or Canada.

[Live actor and video actor]For the second year in a row, the UCF Conservatory Theatre is collaborating with other universities in a digital-age makeover of a stage classic. This time, Lewis Carroll’s ageless fantasia will get an electronic overhaul that draws audiences into an Internet2 wonderland.

“Alice Experiments In Wonderland” runs through the first weekend in February. The production is a partnership between the UCF Conservatory Theatre, Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, and the University of Waterloo outside Toronto, which will simultaneously stage the show live using high-speed broadband connections, 2-D and 3-D sets and ceiling-high screens.

“We’re actually connecting the three audiences and unifying the story, characters and the whole play into one mega production,” said UCF theatre professor and director John Shafer, who penned the 21st-century version of the story with contributions from Waterloo student Amy Sensenstein.

Each university has its own cast of characters who will perform on their respective stages with virtual actors “beamed” in via Internet2, a much faster version of the Internet available to higher-ed institutions.

So when UCF’s Alice meets a pair of techno geeks that will help her navigate through this digital world, the geeks might be transmitted images of actors from Waterloo — appearing on Orlando’s stage in real time. Cameras will even be turned on the audience during the show.

“We’re playing with relationships, time and space in a very different way,” said Shafer, who worked on a similar distance theater production last year with Bradley and Waterloo. The trio of schools received international praise for seamlessly joining virtual and real-life actors in their version of Elmer Rice’s “The Adding Machine.”

The goal of “Alice,” Shafer says, is to produce the first affordable and easily replicable show that merges three universities’ stages, casts and crews into one interactive experience. And, he hopes, it will lay the groundwork for theatre companies around the world to work together for the benefit of their audiences.

About 300 students, faculty and staff from the three universities have worked on “Alice” for months — brainstorming costumes, scenes and settings in online forums. The production is co-directed by Gerd Hauck from Waterloo and George Brown of Bradley University.

“It’s just so new and innovative,” said Eliza Stevens, an assistant director and UCF undergraduate student in theatre. “We have no idea where this experience could take us or what kinds of doors it will open.”

While the technology is state-of-the art, the play’s storyline remains family friendly — with a few modern tweaks, of course. Alice sports an iPod and Ugg boots. She befriends a computer-hacking Mad Hatter. And the Cheshire Cat rides a razor scooter.

Performances wind up this week in UW’s Theatre of the Arts: Friday morning at 10:30, Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:00, and evening (8:00) performances Thursday-Saturday. Tickets are $12 general, $10 students, $5 children (details online).


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