Web Exclusives

Open season on academics: My brush with predatory publishing

One morning I opened my email to find that I had become editor-in-chief of an academic journal. Well, ‘chief editor’ to be precise. This came as a surprise. It was not something I could recall applying for, and the journal was outside my areas of expertise. I had received a message from a prospective author who wanted to know if it was normal practice to send $100USD after acceptance in order to secure publication – and, after some Googling, why

Academic Research vs. Political Propaganda: Lessons from the Fraser Institute’s Study of Minority-Language Education

In 2012 the Fraser Institute published a 138-page study entitled Official Language Policies of the Canadian Provinces: Costs and Benefits in 2006 that examined the financial impact of providing bilingual government services. It calculated that the provinces spend $900 million each year, mainly for minority-language education – English schooling in Quebec, French instruction elsewhere. A complementary report distributed in 2009, Official Language Policies at the Federal Level in Canada, estimated that the federal government spends a further $1.5 billion.

Doing the PPP: A skeptical perspective

So-called "program prioritization processes" have been a hot topic at American and Ontario universities. But as Leo Groarke and Beverley Hamilton argue, the cost of PPP is much higher than many administrators realize.
Photo by Adriaan Bloem

Academic Attention Deficit Disorder

At conferences I sit at the back of the room. I’m a people watcher, and from the back I can observe the spectators as well as the speaker. I like to see what the audience members are up to. Are they captivated by the presentation, or are they taking a nap? Are they jotting down main points and clever questions, or mindlessly doodling on the schedule sheet? Are they actually listening to the speaker? Or are they compulsively checking their

Are the Stars Aligned? Will Canada finally create an international education strategy?

In its 2011 budget, the Government of Canada announced an allocation of $10 million over a two year period for the development and launching of Canada’s first international education strategy.  To achieve this goal, it struck an Advisory Panel of six experts who produced an extremely comprehensive, strategic, and expansive report in August 2012.  The report, entitled International Education: A Key Driver of Canada’s Future Prosperity, provides recommendations organized under five core themes: targets for success, policy coordination and

Final Observations of Canadian University Rankings: A Misadventure Now Over Two Decades Long

In November, 2012, Maclean’s published its  21st annual rankings of Canadian universities. Indeed, the ranking of universities has become a popular exercise with which to assess and promote higher education in North America. The ranking approach is similar to that used by publications such as Consumer Reports, in which goods or services are assigned scores based on rational parameters, and then assigned relative rank standings. Rankings of universities continue to be advertised annually as required reading for prospective students

Thunderstorm 4/9/2011

Influencing Universities to Embrace Learning Outcomes: Why JOBS is a Dirty Four Letter Word

“Looming low and ominous, in twilight premature, thunderheads are rumbling in a distant overture” (Neil Peart, from the RUSH song Jacob’s Ladder). 

As a 16 year old New Brunswick boy listening to these words I always imagined impending chaos as the power of nature crept slowly upon an earth that refused to change in any but superficial ways.  Now, as a 46 year old professor returning from a conference focused on “Learning Outcomes” these lyrics again come to mind as

The Myth of the Academic Generation Gap: Comparing Junior and Senior Faculty in Canada’s Universities

It is commonly assumed that junior (pre-tenure) professors work much harder and have lower levels of job satisfaction than their more senior (tenured) peers.

A new study of Canadian university faculty, titled ‘Academic Work in Canada: the Perceptions of Early-Career Academics’ and published in Higher Education Quarterly (Jones, Weinrib, Metcalfe, Fisher, Rubens0n & Snee, 2012, volume 66, no. 2) concludes that not only is this assumption incorrect, but also that, despite the rhetoric that junior and senior academics are experiencing

Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller

Coursera, or Socrates was not a Content Provider: The University of Toronto and Coursera Agreement

The Globe and Mail reported recently that the University of Toronto was the latest signatory to an agreement with Coursera, a Web-based educational content provider aiming to “give everyone access to the world-class education that has so far been available only to a select few”. Created by two Stanford computer scientists, Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller, Coursera offers Internet users free access to academic material created by volunteer instructors from various public and Ivy League universities from the United

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Zen and the Art of Metacognition: Quality-Based Discrimination, Peer Assessment & Technology

In 1974, Robert M. Pirsig wrote a book entitled “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, within which he provided a philosophical argument for the primacy of quality.  Quality is described as a metaphysical underpinning of , well, just about anything; an underpinning from which other characteristics can be derived.  I read this book for the first time about 2 years ago, after I had become passionate about using technology to better support the development of meta-cognitive skills in students. 

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Expanding graduate programs and renewing the professoriate: What’s the connection?

Does Ontario need to expand its master’s and doctoral programs in order to supply the professors who will teach these additional students? Ian Clark, David Trick and Richard Van Loon argue that in all fields of graduate study, the government should take into account the best available evidence to ensure that the number of graduate spaces is sufficient to meet the needs of the workforce, but not higher.
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Lost in Translation after Graduation?

What students do after leaving the academy can be impressive, surprising, and, as one department found out, useful for universities interested in improving the student experience.
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Drummond Will Likely Have Little Impact on Universities

How would post-secondary education be affected by the recommendations of the Drummond report, and is Drummond’s approach advisable? Professor Paul Axelrod suggests that in an environment of instituional autonomy, the effects will be minimal. As has been the case for many years, Drummond continues the trend of expecting universities to teach too many students with too few resources.