Friday, May 8, 2009

  • ‘Business as usual’ for courses online
  • Drama duo stage an act for UW library
  • And other notes: a challenge for UW grads
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Cardboard boxes across the floor]

You could fill "eight normal-sized offices" with the broken computers and other electronics that UW's central stores staff loaded into a 53-foot trailer yesterday. "Amazingly enough, the pickup of e-waste continues," says assistant manager Joel Norris, reporting that another trailer-load is on hand already. "Two vehicles are still travelling around campus collecting items, and some departments are even delivering e-waste personally to East Campus Hall." Individuals can do the same thing Saturday between 9:00 and 3:00, when stores staff will be on hand to accept computers, printers and TV sets and ship them off for recycling by Cambridge-based Greentec. There's no charge.

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‘Business as usual’ for courses online

UW technology officials say they “will plan accordingly” if there are any changes in the electronic world following this week’s merger of two big companies in the online learning field.

“As many UW online course users may have already learned,” writes Andrea Chappell of information systems and technology, “on Wednesday, the Blackboard learning management system company acquired Angel Learning Incorporated, the vendor of the Angel system that is locally called UW-ACE.”

According to the web site Campus Technology, “The two companies today announced the signing of a definitive agreement in which Blackboard will acquire Angel for $80 million in cash and $15 million in stock.

“Blackboard acquired another major rival, WebCT, back in 2005. The deal with Angel leaves only one major competitor in the commercial learning management space: Desire2Learn, which Blackboard has been pursuing in court for more than two years now in lawsuits involving alleged patent infringement.” Desire2Learn was founded by a pair of UW graduates and is based in Kitchener.

Says Chappell: “Many questions will arise from this announcement, and as yet we have only the answers provided in the links from the web page on this Blackboard site. At UW, we just upgraded to Angel V7.3. We know that V7.4, just released this past week, will continue as planned. After that, there will be a new road map, but in these early days we do not know how that will unfold. Michael Chasen, president and chief executive of Blackboard, is quoted as saying that down the road 'the best features of Angel will be folded into Blackboard software'.

“As many people know, Blackboard and WebCT had the lion's share of the learning management system market, and in 2005 Blackboard took over WebCT. In the intervening years it has seen its market share decrease, while Angel's has increased. Blackboard also has been in the news over patent lawsuits against the local learning management system company, Desire2Learn.

“The Angel Users Conference occurs next week and this acquisition will now be the big topic. The company has indicated that more information will be shared there. UW staff members are attending the conference. Also, UW has been undergoing an Online Learning Environment Review exercise since last summer, seeking input on what we see as our future needs. This acquisition news will be discussed by the project team in the context of the review.

“UW has licensed Angel until May 2010, and as we learn more about the road map for the product under Blackboard's ownership, we will plan accordingly. We will provide more information to the UW community as we obtain it. In the meantime, it is business as usual with UW-ACE.”

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Drama duo stage an act for UW library

from the UW library’s e-newsletter

Spring is here and with it comes a new addition to the Library’s poster and bookmark series. Officially launched at the March Break Open House, this year’s design features the slogan “act on it @ your library” and is the third in a series to celebrate the academic disciplines at Waterloo.

[Poster shows duo in renaissance costume]This year’s campaign focuses on the Faculty of Arts and showcases Arts students Patrick Pinnell and Magdalena Surma. With the “act” slogan and elaborate costuming, the poster and bookmark take on an undeniable drama emphasis.

Fittingly, both Patrick and Magdalena were students in Drama 101 this past fall and the costuming as well as much of the conceptual work was accomplished in collaboration with the Drama Department’s costume designer, Jocelyne Sobeski.

When it came to selecting the right costumes for Patrick and Magdelena, Jocelyne describes her process: “Every time I read a script for a production, my thoughts go to how I can dress my actor to help transform him or her into the character they are becoming in the script. Usually a story evolves around another place and another time in history. How will I dress my characters? How do they move on stage? Are they rich? Poor? A villain? And so forth. In this case, once my actors came to visit me, we tried on costumes from our costume stocks, as though they were kids playing with Mr. Dressup's tickle trunk. This is what we came up with.”

As Jocelyne explains, the final costumes selected for the photo shoot are copies of clothing worn in history. These two pieces in particular were designed and built in Stratford for production on the Stratford stage and were later acquired by the department.

The result depicts Patrick and Magdalena as both performers and students showing just a couple of the ways that students might “act on it” at the Library.

While still early in their academic careers at Waterloo, both have already formed strong ties to the Library. “The library is okay in my books,” jokes Patrick, a first-year drama major. He explains that he comes to the Library for a variety of reasons, including for books, coffee, and to study.

When it comes to Patrick's favourite spots in the Dana Porter Library, he says, “I like the sixth floor, because there are a larger number of books on that floor that interest me. Sometimes I like the stairs. Yeah, I’m weird like that.” Patrick submitted a photo of his favourite spot in the Library for the Library’s recent photo contest.

Magdalena is a second-year legal studies student, and like Patrick, spends most of her time in the Dana Porter Library. With the goal of becoming a lawyer in the future, she has spent the past two summers studying at Harvard where she has had the opportunity to work at the John F. Kennedy School of Government and volunteer in numerous humanitarian organizations at Harvard and in the Boston area.

Magdalena also submitted a photo of her favourite spot in the Library for the photo contest, naming the Peter and Betty Sims’ Reading Room on the third floor of Porter as her favourite place to study. She adds: “What is also really neat about the Dana Porter Library is the Doris Lewis Rare Book Room where special collections can be found, ranging from early editions and rare books to a collection of manuscripts.”

When asked how it feels to be the face of the Library for the year, Patrick says, “Sometimes I feel very important, and then my ego starts rising to frightening new levels, much like in the way I am posing in the poster and bookmark.” On a more serious note, Magdalena responds, “I am honoured to be the face of the Library because it is a great place that provides students with everything they need to succeed.”

The photos are by Chris Hughes, and poster design by Sara LeBlanc, both of UW Graphics.

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And other notes: a challenge for UW grads

The annual Grad Class Challenge is under way, with phone calls being made to all this spring’s graduating students inviting them to support UW in a tangible way. The “challenge” incorporates the Plummer’s Pledge in engineering, the Better Beaker Pledge in science, and other traditional names for fund-raising campaigns aimed at students on the cusp of being alumni. It’s organized according to faculty: all six faculties are involved, as well as St. Jerome’s University, Renison University College and Conrad Grebel UC. “Calling will last from May until Convocation in June,” says Julia Wegenast of the UW development office. “Grads from all faculties will be asked to donate $20.09 to support a variety of projects across the faculties and colleges. The goal of GCC is to educate students on the importance of supporting Waterloo and participation, as well as inform them of all the great services offered by the Office of Alumni Affairs.”

Frances Hannigan, who operates the WatPort program and web site to support new faculty recruitment and support, sends word that a new feature is now being offered online: listings of housing. “It is a site specifically for faculty and staff to post and view rentals and/or sabbaticals,” says Hannigan. “The idea behind this site was to facilitate new faculty not yet on campus to find temporary housing from other faculty or staff. The site is restricted to faculty and staff to post and view.” UW’s housing and residences operation does have a space for off-campus listings on its web site, but the emphasis there is on housing for students. There are also several commercial web sites that cover housing in Kitchener-Waterloo, but aimed at a broad audience.

“An exciting 2008-09 season of Ontario University Athletics women’s basketball will have a star-studded conclusion on Saturday,” says a news release, “in the inaugural OUA All-Star Game to take place at RIM Park in Waterloo. Twenty players who were named OUA all-stars or members of the all-rookie teams this past season will showcase their skills in a battle of East versus West.” One member of the Warriors — guard Kim Lee — will be on the roster of the West Division team. The all-star event is happening in conjunction with the Under 17 and Under 19 Girls Ontario Basketball Provincial Championships, in which 97 teams from across the province are competing. “Mascots from the competing OUA schools will also be in attendance,” says the OUA announcement, “and will showcase their basketball skills during halftime. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at RIM Park. Admission is free of charge.”

Auditions are under way for the University Choir and instrumental chamber ensembles that will perform this term (details from the music department at Conrad Grebel University College). • "An academic boot camp" for women PhD students and postdoctoral fellows in UW's faculty of engineering who are "interested in academia" started Wednesday evening and continues through today. • Alice Ventura, a custodian in UW's plant operations department since October 1989, officially retired as of May 1.

And . . . in case it wasn't clear from Tuesday's Daily Bulletin, the organization that's now being referred to as the Canadian Digital Media Network is the same operation that was called the Corridor for Advancing Canadian Digital Media when it was launched a few months ago. It has the status of a federal Centre for Excellence for Commercialization and Research — one of six that were launched earlier this year — and serves to link UW's planned Stratford Institute with something called the Digital Media Convergence Centre, based in Kitchener and operated by Communitech. Under its new name, the Network is a co-sponsor of the "Canada 3.0" conference being held next month.


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Link of the day

Lilac time

When and where

Canadian Forum on Theology and Education meets at St. Jerome’s University through Saturday. Details.

Graduate Student Leisure Research Symposium, Lyle Hallman Institute. Details.

Wilfrid Laurier University “Development Day” with personal and professional development speakers. Details.

Library workshop: “Primo: Find Books and More” 10:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Department of Psychology third annual Ziva Kunda Memorial Lecture: Thomas Gilovich, Cornell University, “Where the Mind Goes”, 3:00, MacKirdy Hall, St. Paul’s College.

Microteaching session sponsored by Centre for Teaching Excellence, 3:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Graduate Student Association welcome back pub night, 5:00 to 9:00, Grad House.

Art gallery reception: Opening of “The Maturity Playground” by fine arts graduate student Nathalie Quagliotto, 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., Render gallery, East Campus Hall, exhibition May 4-22.

E-waste Green Day sponsored by UW central stores and Greentec Recycling Services: drop off electronic items (on approved list) for free recycling, Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., East Campus Hall.

Introductory Leadership Training: “Consensus Decision-Making and Anti-Oppression Training” Saturday 10:00 to 4:00, Student Life Centre, sponsored by Waterloo Public Interest Research Group. Details.

‘Walk a Block for Lupus’ fund-raising event, local organizer Jason Baetz, UW arts student, Saturday 1:00 p.m., Waterloo Memorial Recreation Centre. Details.

DaCapo Chamber Choir, based at Conrad Grebel University College, spring choir, “Fire & Air”, Saturday 8:00, St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church, Kitchener, tickets $20 (students $15).

Mothers’ Day brunch at the University Club, Sunday, seatings at 11:00 and 1:30, $24.95 per person, reservations ext. 33801.

Class enrolment appointments for fall term courses posted in Quest May 11; appointments June 22-27 for continuing students, July 13-26 for new students; open enrolment begins July 27.

UW Blooms annual exchange of seeds, seedlings and garden supplies, Monday, multipurpose room, Student Life Centre.

‘Research tools and library services’ workshop for new graduate students, Monday, 12:00, Davis Centre library room 1568. Details.

Social work seminar: Tom Brenner, Renison University College, “An Approach to Canada’s Child Poverty Problem, or Not” Monday 4:30 p.m., Renison chapel lounge.

Afghanistan and the History of Canadian Foreign Policy: book tour for Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy by Yves Engler, Monday 5:30, Rod Coutts Hall room 301, sponsored by Waterloo Public Interest Research Group and the Council of Canadians.

Retirees Association bus trip to “Toronto’s Smaller Museums” Tuesday, sold out. Details.

‘Identity Theft and Internet Safety’ seminar by Michele Dunsford, UW police, sponsored by UW Recreation Committee, Tuesday 12:00, Physics room 145.

Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing Gauss competition for grade 7 and 8 students, Wednesday. Details.

Communitech Tech Leadership Conference Thursday, Bingemans Conference Centre, Kitchener. Details.

Herschel Space Observatory launch event with live video and remarks about UW’s involvement, Thursday 8:30 to 9:30 a.m., Humanities Theatre.

Chem 13 News exam for high school science students, sponsored by UW and University of Toronto chemistry departments, Thursday. Details.

Orchestra@ UWaterloo first rehearsal Thursday 7:00, Conrad Grebel University College great hall. Details.

‘The Wedding Singer’ produced by K-W Musical Productions, May 14-16, 20-23 at 8 p.m., May 23 at 2 p.m., Theatre of the Arts, tickets $29 at Humanities box office.

Victoria Day holiday Monday, May 18: UW offices and most services closed, and classes cancelled.

‘So You Want to Be a Faculty Member?’ workshop sponsored by Centre for Teaching Excellence, May 21, 9:00 a.m., Davis Centre room 1302. Details.

Last day to drop or withdraw from courses with 100 per cent fee refund; “drop, no penalty” period ends, May 22.

You@Waterloo Day open house for students who have received offers of admission to UW, and their families, May 23, 10:00 to 2:00, headquarters in Student Life Centre. Details.

Winter term grades become official May 25 on Quest.

UW Retirees Association annual general meeting May 27, 3:30, Sunshine Centre, Luther Village.

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