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PSE students should focus on transferrable skills on day one

November 30th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Canada, Education

As you begin your college or university studies, you’re probably focused on earning your diploma or degree. But in order to be career ready upon graduation, you’ll also need to develop a host of “21st century” or “transferable” skills in demand by employers, including creative, critical and analytical thinking skills.

Post-secondary institutions are finding helpful and innovative ways to help students develop both the knowledge and skills needed to eventually launch successful careers.

Queen’s University in Kingston, for instance, has developed “major maps” tailored specifically to each undergraduate program. “The maps have sections about the kinds of skills students can develop that are complimentary to their degree through things like volunteering, engaging with their community and doing international experiences,” says career counsellor Christine Fader.

A “co-curricular opportunities directory” allows students to search extracurricular opportunities by learning outcomes. Students who want to develop leadership skills, for instance, may choose to volunteer as a peer learning assistant or university issues committee member. Those eager to develop a global perspective can become an Engineers without Borders club member.

Meanwhile, a skills workshop helps students identify the skills they’ve developed — often unwittingly — and how to communicate those skills to prospective employers, says Fader.

But the pressure to develop transferable skills can be overwhelming. Queen’s launched a campaign called “It all adds up” to help students make informed decisions about how best to spend their time. “A lot of students are already doing a lot,” says Fader. “It’s about helping them understand that what they’re doing means something.”

George Brown College’s school of design also recognizes the importance of helping its students develop hard and soft skills, such as the ability to use social media to promote their work and connect with clients in a meaningful way, how to manage a design project and how to deal with conflict with clients, says special projects co-ordinator Lori Endes.

The school recently launched a gallery-style store called IN that offers students real-world experience. “We have a small line of products developed by students and geared towards students. We focused initially on getting graphic designers to think three-dimensionally about their graphics in an entrepreneurial way,” Endes says.

“For example, a pattern-making workshop was applied to wallets. We get students to pitch ideas about the kinds of products they’d like to see in the store.” The school hopes to eventually work with other departments, including fashion and jewelry. “The goal of the IN store is to find the brightest and best student designers out there; incubate them with extra skills and get their work into the world.”

Meanwhile, George Brown’s office of research and innovation launched a digital badging program last year that will acknowledge students who participate in applied research. Students are rewarded for skills including problem-solving, team-building and the ability to find innovative solutions to industry problems and can display their digital badges in places visible to prospective employers, such as on their LinkedIn or Facebook profiles.

Employability skills 2000+

The Conference Board of Canada says the following “employability skills 2000+” are needed to enter, stay in and progress in the world of work:

  • Fundamental skills: Communicate, use numbers, manage information, think and solve problems
  • Personal management skills: Demonstrate positive attitudes and behaviours, be responsible, be adaptable, learn continuously, work safely
  • Teamwork skills: Work with others, participate in projects and tasks

— Source:

By Linda White
Thursday, September 24, 2015
Toronto Sun

Universities must not pick and choose which groups deserve defending, writes National Post contributor

November 25th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Canada, Education

As the pages of the National Post and newspapers across Canada can attest, our universities continue to act as microcosms of our wider society. Nowhere does this axiom play out more acutely than in the realm of human rights.

Upon resuming classes this fall, Canadian students were confronted with propaganda posters promoting a “White Students Union” — a loaded phrase if ever there was one. Toronto universities clearly understood this tactic as an offensive and inappropriate ploy suggestive of white supremacy movements, and correctly pulled the posters down.

As a human rights advocacy organization, the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies (FSWC) disagrees with divisive propaganda on Canadian campuses. We do support free speech, but with limitations on spreading hate and intolerance — particularly when it is directed toward one particular group of people. Unfortunately, many Canadian universities maintain a remarkable level of hypocrisy in deciding which groups are entitled to the level of empathy and understanding that lead to the tearing down of the above-mentioned posters; and nowhere is this hypocrisy worse than at York University in Toronto.

In York’s Student Center hangs a pro-Palestinian poster, which promotes the use of violence against Israel and has been sanctioned by the university and the student union. Despite complaints by scores of Jewish students who feel victimized each time they see this poster, and requests to tear it down because it promotes violence and reinforces anti-Semitic attitudes already rampant at the university, Jewish students on campus continue to be subjected to the hatred implicit in this poster. On behalf of students concerned that their voices were not being heard, FSWC lodged the following (summarized) complaint:

“The subject of this complaint is the mural entitled ‘Palestinian Roots’ that is currently displayed in the York University Student Centre. The mural depicts a young man staring off at a bulldozer that is facing an olive tree. The scarf that hangs over his shoulder displays a Palestinian flag next to a borderless map of Israel. The man is seen holding rocks in his hands behind his back. The artist’s explanation states that the images represent the ‘defenceless, the antagonist and the other.’

“The symbolism and meaning behind these images is indisputable. To Jewish students and supporters of Israel, the mural represents a form of intimidation and warfare extending from the highly anti-Israel and anti-Semitic climate on campus. It serves as justification for the violent rock-throwing that occurs daily in Israel against the Jewish community, and as support for the delegitimization of the State of Israel as indicated by the image of the map on the man’s scarf. When viewed in context, (in the student centre of a university already overflowing with tension and hate related to the Israel-Palestine conflict, and where physically and emotionally violent incidents against Jewish and pro-Israel students have occurred), this mural is hardly innocuous.”

As of this past weekend, there have been at least 23 rock-throwing or Molotov-cocktail attacks against Israelis by Palestinians throughout the country; one large rock landed in a car right next to a baby in its car seat. Had its trajectory been slightly different, the baby would have been killed. This poster is more than a mere piece of art — it is propaganda, and a clear call to murder.

Logic would dictate that if the White Students Union posters must come down, so too should the Palestinian Roots poster. Standards for free speech should be applied in a consistent and non-discriminatory way. At York University, students feel there is a double standard employed both by student leaders and by the administration where Israel and Jewish students are concerned. At York and many other universities, tolerance for hate speech has actually increased — but only where Israel and the Jewish community are concerned.

I do not believe that university campuses should become bastions of hate propaganda of any kind. When one group feels assaulted year after year (as Jewish students on numerous university campuses do), it is symptomatic of rampant hate and discrimination, not free speech. When it comes to free speech, there should be an equal playing field for all — and university administrations must be held accountable if they promote inconsistent and discriminatory standards. York’s reputation is in a precarious position; its administration should take immediate steps to do the right thing and tear the poster down.

By Avi Benlolo, National Post | September 21, 2015
National Post


Retiring St Clair president speaks out on government funding

October 29th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Canada, Education

John Strasser is retiring as President of St Clair College after 15 years in that role. Both the Windsor and Chatham campuses have grown substantially during his tenure, with major construction projects and increases in enrolment. In a final interview with, Strasser spoke out, expressing his frustration that the federal and provincial governments do not fund colleges and universities equally. “Many of the policy makers and decision makers are university trained, and I understand that. But St Clair College produces a higher quality graduate than many, many universities in this country,” said Strasser. “To sit there and make smug decisions that if universities did it then it must be better. It’s incorrect. It’s just taking a status that’s probably 50 years past its prime and recycling it.”

Dr. John Strasser is spending his last day on the job meeting with college officials in both Windsor and Chatham.

Strasser admits he’s had offers from some organizations, but says he’s taking a pause on making any decisions. Instead, he’s looking forward to spending time at his family’s cottage in Cape Breton.

During his tenure, campuses have both grown substantially with the addition of the Ford Centre for Excellence in Manufacturing in Windsor and the Mary Uniac Health Science Education Centre in Chatham. Enrolment also grew to about 7,000 full-time students in Windsor and 1,300 in Chatham this past school year.

In his final interview with, Strasser expresses frustration colleges and universities aren’t funded equally by federal and provincial governments and hopes that changes in the future.

“Many of the policymakers and decision-makers are university trained, and I understand that. But, St. Clair College produces a higher quality graduate than many, many universities in this country,” says Strasser. “To sit there and make smug decisions that if universities did it than it must be better. It’s incorrect. It’s just taking a status that’s probably 50 years past its prime and recycling it. There’s no logic that defends that.”

Should governments ever give colleges and universities equal funding, Strasser suggests equipment would be one good investment.

“There’s no sense in giving a post-secondary institution funding to build a $50 to $100-million building and then have lab equipment that’s from the 1960s.”

On Tuesday, senior vice-president of college operations, Patti France takes over as president.

France is the first female head of the college and climbed up the ladder, starting out in a support staff position in the Registrar’s Office more than 25 years ago.

“She’ll do a terrific job,” said Strasser.

By on August 31, 2015, Blackburn News


US News and World Report encourages enrolment in Canadian universities

October 16th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Canada, Education, Student Loan Debt

Obtaining a bachelor’s degree in Canada has the potential to offer a world-class education at a fraction of the price one might find in the US, UK, or Australia, says US News and World Report. According to the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE), 336,400 international students came to study in Canada in 2014 compared to 184,150 in 2008. US News and World Report adds that students planning to study outside the US should give strong consideration to Canada because of its affordable tuition rates and high-quality universities, quoting one student who celebrated receiving her Canadian education “without having to sell [her] kidneys to pay the tuition.”

nternational students in Canada can work during their studies and can apply to stay for several years after graduating.

Annual Giving- Student on Campus

About 336,000 international students came to Canada in 2014, up from 184,150 in 2008, according to the Canadian Bureau for International Education.

Canada isn’t only known for moose, mounted police and maple syrup.

Among a growing number of international students, it’s also known for its world-class higher education system.

About 336,400 international students came to Canada in 2014, up from 184,150 in 2008, according to the Canadian Bureau for International Education. The country is the seventh most popular destination for international students, drawing about 60 percent of its overseas students from China, India, Korea, Saudi Arabia and France.

While Canadian universities do have some similarities to their U.S., U.K. and Australian counterparts, experts say the country’s higher education system is also unique. Here are three facts prospective international students should know about the country’s colleges.

[Check out tips to convince your parents you should study overseas.]

1. They want international students – and lots of them: While international students can encounter hurdles studying in countries like the U.S. and the U.K., that’s not the case for Canada, whose government has made it a priority to welcome international students. In January 2014, the country announced plans to double the number of international students within its borders by 2022.

Once international students arrive in Canada, they may also have a means to support themselves. Through their study permit, students can work part time on or off campus during the school year, and full time during academic breaks. And when undergraduate students graduate, they can apply for a work permit which allows them to stay and work in the country for up to three years.

“The Canadian government has made a very conscious decision to look at international student recruitment as a way of immigration into Canada,” says Britta Baron, who oversees international programs at the University of Alberta. “The fact that students can stay on once they have finished is huge – and it’s not necessarily known around the world.”

2. Canada is influenced by the U.S., but culturally distinct. Want a taste of the U.S., but not a full serving? Canada has “modern, predominately English-speaking cities, with just enough American influence that international students are looking for, but a Canadian multicultural experience that is safe and welcoming,” says Aaron Andersen, director of international recruitment at the University of British Columbia.

That “almost American” experience is a perk for Olivia Baker, a French and British citizen earning a bachelor’s in communications at the University of Montreal.

“It seems very superficial and silly but the whole ‘like in the movies’ aspect is kind of cool,” she said by email. “The red cups at parties, the cheerleaders, the university football team, the throwing hats in the air ceremony, etc., all without having to sell your kidneys to pay the tuition.”

[Find out how to tell if you're ready to earn an undergraduate degree overseas.]

In terms of Canada’s culture, visitors are apt to find friendly, polite people with an appreciation for diversity, experts say.

“As typical, humble Canadians, the students are really a part of the knowledge and the classroom experience and they don’t have that entitlement that can sometimes be in other top universities in the world,” he says.

3. Students can get a good bang for their buck. Although tuition at public Canadian universities varies by province, it tends to be lower than at U.S., U.K. or Australian universities, experts say.

On average, undergraduate tuition for international students ranges from about $20,000 to $24,000 in Canadian dollars (about $15,000 to $18,300) a year, says Jennifer Humphries, vice president of membership, public policy and communications for CBIE. And for those who want to try to whittle the cost down further, there are some, though few, scholarships available, she says.

Al Shaibani, a native of Iraq who graduated from the University of British Columbia in May, says his parents steered him toward Canada because they thought the universities were a great value.

“They wanted me in a world-class university and a research institution,” he says of UBC. “It’s good quality, but it’s also affordable. It’s nowhere near the crazy prices of the U.S., Australia or the U.K.”

[Find out how to calculate the cost of earning an overseas degree.]

While a Canadian higher education might be easier on the budget than colleges in other countries, applicants should weigh a few other factors before submitting an application – or several.

Aside from the province of Ontario, Canada doesn’t use a common application, which means international students will have to apply to schools individually.

Canada also has a slightly shorter academic year than the U.S., with college classes running September through April, experts say. The condensed schedule means a shorter winter break but more time for international students to work over the summer.

Finally, students should think about the weather where they will be studying. While winter can be rough in Canada, the climate really depends on location.

“The eastern parts can be cold, but in the western provinces, the climate is very mild,” UBC’s Andersen says. “It’s not all igloos and icebergs.”

Making Sense of Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation

October 15th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Canada, Email

Canadian sales professionals are confused and frustrated. Rightfully so. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is guiding marketers, while neglecting to help sellers understand and adapt to the law’s new consequences.

So, beware: The Canadian Anti-spam Legislation (CASL) does limit your ability to “cold email” prospects.

That said, there seems to be two workarounds for B-to-B sellers that don’t bend the rules:

  • Use LinkedIn InMail, where users have already given their consent to receive your message and/or
  • approach prospects with messages that do not encourage participation in a commercial activity.

Preface: I’m not a lawyer and you should consider your lawyer’s advice. Unfortunately, the law truly is confusing from a sales person’s perspective. That said …

What CASL Is (and Is Not)
What is clear is the CASL’s intention: To reduce unwanted, un-solicited email being sent by marketers. The Canadian government wants to lower the quantity of commercial electronic messages that are unwanted — yet being received — by customers or potential customers.

Got it. And CASL puts power into customers’ hands.

CASL is not an attempt to limit the ability of businesses to develop new accounts using email messages. Heh. Not intentionally so.

According to the CASL website:

“To send a commercial electronic message to an electronic address, you need to have the recipient’s consent, to identify yourself, to offer an unsubscribe mechanism and to be truthful.”

This is not terribly new. Yet many of my clients are confused. Rightfully. They’re putting a lot (too much) focus on the consent piece. If you look at recent lawsuits and settlements, notice how obtaining consent is not a focal point.

So, how much does earning consent to email someone “cold” matter?

Do You Have Implied Consent?
No. But LinkedIn has better: Explicit consent. And it’s “shareable” with you.

The main issue here is consent — getting it from prospects. Well, there are two flavors of what the CASL calls valid consent:

Express and implied.

Express means you have written or oral permission. Simple. You don’t have express consent. But you do have access to your prospects’ express consent when using LinkedIn InMail. That’s because your prospects’ consent is passed to you via LinkedIn’s Terms & Conditions.

LinkedIn InMail Is a Safe Option
After CASL took effect, LinkedIn InMail has become more valuable to Canadian sellers who need to make contact with potential new buyers. Yes, it’s expensive, but it may be worth considering.

Messages sent through LinkedIn have been pre-approved by the recipient. Because InMail is optional for LinkedIn users, this means users can opt-out — thus removing their consent. (See section 2.5 Messages & Sharing of LinkedIn’s user agreement)

InMail users are (so far as I can see) CASL compliant. So long as you obey the wishes of the recipient by classifying the type of message he or she is interested in receiving (“business deals,” “reference requests,” expertise requests,” etc.) and as long as the user has elected to receive InMail.

Can You Earn Implied Consent Without Buying InMail?
Possibly. A seller’s first-touch (cold) email falls under implied consent when both:

  • The email address was obtained in a way that discloses the address without restriction (it was “conspicuously published or sent to you”), and
  • your message relates to the recipient’s functions or activities in a business or official capacity.

Most sellers of email/contact information do impose restrictions. These restrictions often include illegal use of the email addresses you purchase. Thus, purchasing your contact data may not afford you “instant compliance” from CASL.

Also, if you use Rapportive and, beware. Using these services is not in compliance with the new law because you haven’t obtained the email in a conspicuous way. You probably won’t comply when sending email to them.

The CASL does not address this. It should!

Are You at Risk of Non-Compliance?
Is it illegal in Canada to send a prospect (who you don’t know) an email message and, perhaps, a few follow-ups — asking for permission to have a commercial discussion? My interpretation is “no” unless you subscribe them to a mailing list.

However, this area is gray. Consult your lawyer. But also consider bringing this issue to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

Your email messages are commercial electronic messages (CEMs) if they encourage participation in a commercial activity. This is defined in the new law. However, messages focused on encouraging commercial activity are typically not effective at earning conversations with most B-to-B prospects.

That said, these kinds of messages are what most sales teams are sending to prospects: Solicitations for business.

Ask for Explicit Consent in Your ‘First Touch’
Preface: Is this technically legal? I don’t know.

That said, consider approaching prospects about a conversation that could lead to their participation in a commercial activity. Don’t send them a CEM. Instead, give them choice.

And don’t abuse them. Mail three times at most. No response? Move on!

Make first contact in a way that helps your prospect give (or deny) the explicit consent required by law — to have a commercial conversation. This will also help you break through to the prospect!

Ask for explicit consent in a way that makes it clear to your prospect:

  1. They are not on an email list. This is a one-to-one email.
  2. You’ve researched them, specifically, and have good reason to ask for consent.
  3. A response is kindly requested (a call to action that gives them choice).

Bottom line: The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is not guiding sales forces very well. So, beware: CASL does limit your ability to “cold email” prospects. But don’t panic and don’t jump to conclusions.

Remember: The CASL is designed to reduce unwanted, unsolicited email. The Canadian government wants to lower the quality of commercial electronic messages that are not wanted — yet being received — by customers or potential customers.

Target Marketing magazine

International institutions question support for Canadian studies in wake of cutbacks

September 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Canada, Education

Duke University is reportedly weighing whether or not it should continue to support Canadian Studies research. In 2014, the university turned its Center for Canadian Studies into the Council for North American Studies; now, the role of Canada in this new structure is also being questioned by administrators. The program had been supported by Canadian federal funding for Canadian Studies research abroad; however, the government ended the “Understanding Canada” program in 2012. Colin Coates, Director of the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies at York University, says that the lack of support from the Canadian government has caused host institutions like Duke to question their own commitment to funding Canadian Studies initiatives.

“If Stephen Harper doesn’t support Canadian Studies, why should we?”

So said the vice-provost of Duke University to Jane Moss, the director of the university’s Center for Canadian Studies, as he recommended “re-purposing” the endowment that had funded the Centre. This long-lasting centre closed as of 2014, turned into a “Council for North American Studies.” The place of Canada in this new structure has been reduced, and the funds originally intended for the study of Canada now will be used in different ways.[1]

Some Canadians may be surprised to learn the Duke University, located in North Carolina, had a Center for Canadian Studies. Even before the formal establishment of the centre in 1974, Duke was one of the most important universities in advancing the knowledge of Canada. A specialist in the history of the British Commonwealth, Richard Preston was appointed in 1965 as the William K. Boyd Professor of History. Preston directed a number of PhD dissertations on Canadian topics, including those of leading scholars like Andrée Lévesque and J.L. Granatstein. In the late 1960s, only a few universities in Canada offered the PhD in History, and given the climate of the time, it often proved difficult to justify pursuing a Canadian topic even in Canada. Many Canadians travelled abroad, to the United Kingdom, the United States or France to pursue their degrees. Anglophone scholars studied under specialists in the history of the British Commonwealth and Empire, one of the few ways that Canadian history could find its historiographical niche. Distinguished scholars like Richard Preston at Duke played key roles in developing the nascent field of Canadian Studies around the globe.

From the mid-1970s, the Canadian government supported the expansion of Canadian Studies in universities inside and outside the country, and they often encouraged private sector benefactors that this goal was useful. As a result, different foundations emerged to fund academic activity to promote the study of the country. The funds offered by the government and private funders were essential pump-priming exercises, but it is important to emphasize that local universities and governments covered the vast majority of salary and overhead costs.

The return on the Canadian investments was extraordinary. For four decades, the academic study of – and equally if not more important – university-level teaching on Canada expanded around the globe. The umbrella organization for Canadian Studies scholars, the International Council for Canadian Studies, estimates that there are over 7000 Canadianists around the globe. Many international scholars decided to study the country because of their own intellectual interests, but Canadian government and private sector funds helped to bring them to Canada to pursue research, develop their teaching capacities and establish intellectual networks.

But the context has now changed. In 2012, the Harper government completely ended its “Understanding Canada” programme, thus cutting off support for international Canadianist scholars. What was the result of this decision? At least three of the oldest associations (in the US, UK and France) had to let go of their long-serving administrators, thus reducing their organizational capacity. Some of the international journals of Canadian Studies have ceased to publish, eliminating a publication outlet for local Canadianists as well as Canada-based scholars. Fewer scholarly conferences are taking place. A few of the associations struggle to exist. The universities that supported such activities in the past ask themselves, as did the vice-provost at Duke University, “If Stephen Harper doesn’t support Canadian Studies, why should we?”

Former director Jane Moss points out that the Canadian government, as one of the original donors to the endowment of the Duke University centre, was likely approached to agree to the “repurposing” of the funds. In a previous post, I detailed the actions of the Canadian High Commission in Britain in redirecting the funding controlled by the Foundation for Canadian Studies in the United Kingdom (despite the “arm’s length” status between the High Commission and the Foundation, as indicated in the annual reports to the UK’s Charity Commission[2]). The parallels between the Duke University Center’s funding and the Foundation in the UK are striking. One would not normally expect a nation’s government to be hostile to specialists interested in the country.

Against that negative backdrop, it is essential to recognize that a good deal of Canadian Studies activity continues on the international stage. Many established and younger scholars continue to be drawn to the study of the country for entirely legitimate intellectual reasons: interest in Canadian experiences of multiculturalism, First Nations, Inuit and métis peoples, national diasporas, the excellent Canadian literature in English and French, comparative histories, business and economic understandings of an OECD country, federalism and so on. People around the world have good reasons to understand Canada. In fact, the government of the United Kingdom today could well benefit from a deeper understanding of Canadian federalism and the challenges posed by successful nationalist political parties at the sub-state level. Fortunately, around the globe, many university faculty and students dedicate their time and energy to ensuring that Canadian Studies activities continue in their countries.

If the current Canadian government does not support international Canadian Studies, it is time for Canadians to show that they do. The International Council for Canadian Studies has launched a crowd-sourcing campaign to raise funds to support graduate student scholarships, internships and other activities. Its goals are modest, and I hope that we can easily surpass them. Please consider a donation to the ICCS: Even a modest $10 donation shows that Canadians support for work of our colleagues around the globe.

By Colin Coates
June 4, 2015 

Colin Coates is the director of the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies at York University 

[1] The only reference to funding on the Council for North American Studies website refers to the external Fulbright Scholar Program :

[2] (on page 9 of the “Annual Report and Accounts for the year ended 31 July 2014”). Three of the eight voting trustees of the Foundation are currently employees of the Canadian High Commission. High Commissioner Gordon Campbell serves, as have previous High Commissioners, as an ex-officio observer.


Dalhousie University’s Killam Library starts texting complaint system

June 30th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Canada

Library staff equipped with communal cellphone that receives the noise complaints.

Staff at Dalhousie University’s Killam Library are hoping a new texting campaign will help students get some peace and quiet a little quicker.

The SHH Text campaign launched last week and allows students to text a noise complaint in real time to the library’s staff. Students can describe the location of the noise, as well as the person or group disrupting the quiet areas.

Elaine MacInnis, the head of the Killam Library, says the program was implemented to keep track of all the complaints.

“We received noise complaints in many different ways, through the information desk or through emails to myself after the fact which, of course, are hard to address,” she said.

Staff at the library’s service point are now equipped with a communal cellphone that receives the noise complaints. The phone number can be found on the library’s website.

Once a staff member receives a noise complaint via text, they will go to the source of the noise and investigate, said MacInnis. Security will get involved in the noise persists.

The service is available whenever the library is open, until midnight.

‘Students are usually very respectful’

While students are currently given warnings if there is a noise complaint, MacInnis says staff plan to implement a “drop card” system this fall.

The physical warning card will be given to those making too much noise. MacInnis says it’s a more official communication of the complaint to the person or people being noisy.

Although the program was introduced last week, the library’s service point has yet to receive any text complaints. MacInnis believes this is because of exam season.

“Student are usually very respectful during exam season, you can almost feel the silence,” she said.

“The real test for the campaign will be in the fall semester when students arrive back on campus and classes are in session.”

By Katie Thompson, CBC News
Apr 23, 2015 6:15 AM AT

Nipawin Bible College converts to solar power

June 26th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Canada

Small college becomes Canada’s first to use solar power for all energy needs, installs 399 panels.

Nipawin Bible College in east-central Saskatchewan expects to cut its current $17,000 yearly electrical bill down to zero, thanks to 399 new solar panels.

Wes Fehr, the school’s outgoing president, said that after 23 years with the college, it is great to have achieved this project just in time for retirement. He said the college is the first in Canada to provide solar energy for all of the energy needs on its campus facilities.

“We are not aware of anything of this scale,” Fehr said. “It’s a bit surprising to people.”

The campus’ large 100-kilowatt solar array went online in December 2014.

According to Fehr, the hundreds of solar panels span 7,150 square feet, which ties the energy structure for the largest solar array in Saskatchewan. Fehr noted it is also one of the largest solar arrays in Western Canada.

“It’s a big structure,” he said. “Very visible from the highway.”

Fehr said help from Ryan Jansen, an alumnus and board member of the college with Good Steward Solutions, made the project’s development possible.

Jansen founded the green energy company with a partner in 2008 and it specializes in solar energy.

The solar installation in Nipawin, Sask. connects to the electrical service in each major campus facility. It is expected to produce approximately 150,000 kWh per year.

Fehr said the unit cost the school $170,000 to build. However, with the college’s annual average electric utility cost at $17,000, he said the project will pay for itself in 10 years, which is good news for the small college.

“Education is costly and anywhere where you can save that kind of money annually, [then] it can go to other important needs,” he said.

Nipawin Bible College held a grand opening for the solar project on Saturday. On average, about 55 students attend the school each year.

CBC News Posted: Apr 18, 2015 5:32 PM CT

Delaware program uses text messages to combat summer melt

May 14th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Canada, Texting

Delaware is using teenagers’ love of texting to help reduce “summer melt.” The state offered each of its nearly 9,000 high school seniors the chance to opt-in to a program that would send them text messages a few times a month. The messages would vary depending on how far along students were in the application process. More than 4,000 students enrolled, as well as nearly 400 parents. A computer sends the text message, but the state has assigned a team of 10 people at the University of Delaware’s Institute for Public Administration to field replies. The team there reports that many students asked for help dealing with confusing scholarship applications and financial aid forms. “Even after students apply to college there are many time-sensitive tasks they need to keep up with. Really the goal is to say, ‘Hey, don’t forget you need to do this thing. Do you have questions about doing this?’” said University of Pittsburgh researcher Lindsay Page, who is publishing a paper on the value of text messages for reducing summer melt. Delaware isn’t the only jurisdiction to use text messages in this way, but it will be the first to launch such an initiative state-wide.

Can a text message get Delaware students to college?


Delaware’s latest college readiness initiative begins at the nexus of two pretty convincing assumptions:

1.) Teenagers like to text.
2.) Applying to college is difficult.

The first assumption borders on hard fact. A 2012 Pew survey found that the average teenager sends 60 texts a day, and that texting is far and away the most common way teens communicate.

The second assumption likely rings true for anyone who has either applied to college in the last decade or tried to coax a teenager through the process.

It’s also the subject of considerable academic study.

University of Pittsburgh researcher Lindsay Page’s work focuses in particular on “summer melt,” the theory that many students, particularly low-income students, fail to enroll in college specifically because of the financial and logistical challenges they encounter between graduating high school in spring and matriculating the next fall. Along with her colleague, University of Virginia professor Benjamin Castleman, Page has tested a number of interventions aimed at easing this transition.

“We started out very low-tech, having counselors or college advisors basically receive a caseload of students,” Page said. “And it was the responsibility of the counselor or advisor to use all of the modes of communication at their disposal to reach out to the students. So it would be calling and emailing.”

The initial results were uninspiring. So Page and Castleman turned to the device teenagers use most — their phones — and the thing they’re most likely to do on that device — text.

“It’s a deceptively simple idea,” Page said.

In the summer of 2012, Page and Castleman set up an experiment. They started with groups of recent high school graduates in Texas and Massachusetts. Some received periodic reminders, ten in all, reminding them to complete paperwork, fill out housing forms, and take placement tests. Others received nothing.

In certain populations, the text messages led to a seven percent bump in college enrollment. In others, the effect was minimal. Overall, though, the results, which will be published later this year in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, convinced Page and Castleman that their deceptively simple solution could have real world application.

“This is definitely something that is very promising,” Page said.

Delaware is the first to take the texting program statewide — and beyond the contours of a carefully-designed experiment. Each of Delaware’s 8,726 high school seniors were eligible to receive the messages, which began in January rather than over the summer. More than 4,000 students have enrolled and 363 of their parents.

A computer program sends out a batch of approximately 400 texts over the course of two hours about three times a month.  They are tailored based on where the students are in the application process. Students who have completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) may receive different notices, for example, than those who haven’t. As students pick their schools, some will receive notices specific to their future plans.

As cell phones across the state buzz and ping, a team of about ten from University of Delaware’s Institute for Public Administration fields responses.

“A lot of pop culture references come up,” said Shana Payne, director of the Delaware Department of Education’s Higher Education Office, with a laugh.

Yes, there are thousands of teens on the receiving end of these messages — which means responses may be curse words, texts intended for other recipients, and weird adolescent brags.

“The guy was asking if I wanted to see him do burnouts on his four-wheeler,” said Laura Wisniewski, a student at the University of Delaware’s Institute for Public Administration.

Most responses, though, seem born of simple confusion. Stumped seniors ask about scholarship applications or half-completed FAFSA forms. If left unanswered, these questions could become missed deadlines or dead ends in the quest for an affordable college education.

“Even after students apply to college there are many time-sensitive tasks they need to keep up with,” Page said. “Really the goal is to say hey, don’t forget you need to do this thing. Do you have questions about doing this?”

The Federal Communications Commission prohibiting texting people without their explicit permission. That means Delaware students must opt into program. But it also means the department’s texts don’t compete with dozens of spam emails, robo phone calls, or Facebook ads.

This direct communication tactic can be a boon.

In 2008, the Obama campaign famously announced it’s Vice Presidential nominee via text, and used text messaging to great acclaim as a fundraising and voter-turnout tool. Text messages have been used to promote HIV/AIDS awareness in the developing world, help smokers quit, and encourage weight loss.

The intervention, in other words, is not new. The application, however, is.

When Page and Castleman tested their college texting program, it produced mixed results. Students in Lawrence and Springfield, Massachusetts, for instance, were about seven percent more likely to enroll in college after receiving the texts. Dallas produced a more modest enrollment bump of 2.4 percent. Students in Boston were a tad less likely to enroll after the text-message deluge.

The researchers attributed this range of results to the fact that Boston students already had access to an abundance of college readiness programs. Students elsewhere were more isolated, and thus more likely to benefit from a digital nudge.

It’ll be a while before Delaware officials can surmise the overall impact of their pilot campaign. So far, 42 percent of students have responded to at least one text message, according to the Department of Education’s Higher Education Office. That number response rate is higher than those in Dallas (31 percent), Springfield (34 percent), and Boston (37 percent), but lower than Lawrence (48 percent).

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is covering the $80,000 tab for this year’s campaign. Given the number of participants, the cost per person comes out to about $18. Page says that number is a bit high because the state had to sign a contract before it knew how many parents and students would enroll. In an experimental setting, she and Castleman were able to deliver the same product for $7 a head.

It’s tricky, at this juncture, to do a cost-benefit analysis of the entire program. Page doesn’t know, for example, if those extra seven percent will complete college or drop out when their next FAFSA form comes due. And if students do drop out, the texts will have been little more than a vehicle for debt.

On the sunnier side, it’s possible the texts can help students who were already college-bound secure extra scholarship money and more favorable loans. The research has not yet attempted to measure this impact, but there’s anecdotal evidence to support it.

Take the case of Pierce Armstrong, a senior at Hodgson Vo-Tech School in Newark, Delaware.

Armstrong was likely college bound before he ever received a text from Shana Payne and the Higher Education Office. But he knew little about financial aid, and realized his parents — one of whom didn’t attend college and one of whom went to a local university — couldn’t offer much help.

“They were able to give me the push and a little bit of insight into things, but overall they didn’t understand the process,” Armstrong said.

After botching a couple of scholarship applications, Armstrong realized he was adrift.

“It’s the senior year and I was kind of on that fence, like, what do I do? How do I do it,” Armstrong said. “I needed help.”

After a few text exchanges he’s now filled out a couple of scholarships, completed his FAFSA, and applied to three colleges. As of now, he’s planning to attend Kutztown University in Pennsylvania this fall.

Armstrong already spends, by his estimate, about two-to-two-and-a-half hours a day texting. A few minutes more chatting about college hardly seemed an intrusion.





Survey shows that half of Canadians who have not sought career advice wish that they had

May 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Canada, Education

One in two Canadians who have not had career counselling say they would have sought professional career planning or employment advice if they could do it over again, a new survey has found.

“There is recognition that just like you need a financial planner and other professionals in your life, you also need professional advice to successfully manage your career,” said Jan Basso, chair of the Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling (CERIC), which commissioned the survey along with The Counselling Foundation of Canada.

Basso, who is also director of co-operative education and career development at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont., said the need for career guidance is particularly acute with ongoing skills and experience mismatches, and with rapid changes in the Canadian employment landscape, citing the oil and gas and retail sectors as examples.

The survey of 1,500 adult Canadians looks at how they use career and employment counselling services. Three groups emerge from the findings – those who define themselves as having a “career,” those who define themselves as having a “job” and students. Those with careers say their careers fit with their post-secondary background or required a degree, diploma or specific training. Those with jobs say no specific education was required or it was the best job they could find. At 55%, those working in careers make up the largest category of respondents.

More than half of those with a career (53%) said they had sought advice from a career professional. Those with a job accessed counselling services less than those with a career at just under four in 10 (38%). Among both those with careers and jobs who did not seek career or employment counselling, half agreed that they should have obtained more professional advice (47% and 50% respectively).

Canadians reported that when they were considering career options, they were most likely to have met with a:

  • High school guidance counsellor (55%)
  • Career counsellor at a post-secondary institution (40%)
  • Person involved in human resources or career management at their place of work (27%)
  • Specialist at a community-based employment centre (26%)
  • Recruiter or headhunter (21%)


Barriers to accessing career services mentioned in the survey include Canadians not believing they need career counselling since they already know their career goals and a lack of familiarity with the different career services available.

“Career professionals come in a variety of forms, from high school guidance counsellors to private career coaches,” said Riz Ibrahim, CERIC’s executive director. “Some can be accessed for free and for some, there is a cost. It’s understandable that people might need assistance to determine the right type of services for their needs.”

Canadians can access career professionals for far more than writing resumes, Ibrahim said. Career professionals provide guidance on career planning, advancing one’s career or making a career transition whether a student, mid-career changer or retiree. They also help people identify their interests and skills and to understand the job market as well as education or training opportunities. Career professionals also work with organizations to ensure they have the right people with the right skills through a range of human resources practices.

Students in the survey list parents, other family members and friends as individuals they have consulted about their career and employment ambitions. Teachers and professors also appear as important sources of advice around career options. A majority of current students (58%) report that they are likely to seek advice from career or employment counsellors.

Survey findings show that as age rises, the number of Canadians with careers seeking career counselling declines. Those 18–24 years of age are most likely to report that they have used career counselling services at 76%. More women (57%) than men (50%) report having accessed career services. In terms of location, more residents of Ontario (61%) sought advice from a career professional compared with residents of Quebec (49%), Atlantic Canada (46%) and BC (45%).

About the survey

Navigator Limited conducted the nationwide survey on behalf of the Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling and The Counselling Foundation of Canada. The study was conducted among adult Canadians 18 years of age or older, and was in the field between November 16 and November 23, 2014. It used an online methodology among a national, proportionate sample of 1,500 respondents. A random sample of those 1,500 would yield a margin of error of +2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The complete report, Nationwide Survey: Accessing Career and Employment Counselling Services, is available online at


The Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling (CERIC) is a charitable organization that advances education and research in career counselling and career development, in order to increase the economic and social well-being of Canadians. It funds projects to develop innovative resources that build the knowledge and skills of diverse career professionals. CERIC also annually hosts Cannexus, Canada’s largest bilingual career development conference, publishes the country’s only peer-reviewed journal, The Canadian Journal of Career Development and runs the free ContactPoint / OrientAction online communities, which provide learning and networking in the career field.