Pages Home About this blog Community Guidelines Privacy Statement Contact Us Thursday, March 31, 2011 Advancing our digital learning environment The University of Alberta has kicked off a three-year initiative to build, enhance and advance its digital learning environment. This integrated environment will facilitate a collaborative learning experience that spans across the U of A and beyond, utilizing a variety of platforms to speak to diverse, mobile, engaged, web-savvy audiences. The web is a ubiquitous tool used every single day by every single student, faculty and staff member at the University of Alberta. It has become as basic an infrastructure need to the academy as classrooms and chalkboards. A well-executed web strategy is a critical component in attracting and retaining the best students, staff and faculty in Alberta, Canada and from around the world, and it is therefore essential that the university deploy time, energy and resources in this area. Failing to do so will continue to result in a diminished online experience for students and faculty at the University of Alberta. In fact, people across our campuses are telling us what we need to do better, and we are committed to listening. We recently completed an online web survey that resulted in 2,700 responses from students, faculty, staff, alumni and other members of the community. Around 200 of the respondents also volunteered to be part of our online Feedback Forum so they could take an active part in determining the future of the U of A’s digital environment. If you would like to join the online Feedback Forum, please sign up here. In addition, web engagement sessions continue to take place with deans, chairs, faculty and staff in all faculties and administrative units. As they identify their specific needs across all of our platforms, these needs are being added to the overall university web strategy. Most university sites, our own included, are primarily focused on the wants and needs of departments. This collective myopia has resulted in a website that leaves users bewildered and frustrated, and as a whole it serves no one well. The new vision, above all else, commits to a user-centred design, where the needs and wants of our audiences are put first. A cohesive online environment will have an immediate, positive impact on our audiences, allowing people to quickly find the content they need in a design that represents and reflects our leadership position as a post-secondary institution. It will also provide them an integrated experience with their university’s communications tools and learning platforms. So what does this really mean? Are we spending $3.5 million over three years on a website? No. We are building expertise critically needed at this university, expertise that will help us fully realize the institution’s digital future. Resources are being re-allocated and in some cases augmented to develop and execute a re-architecting and integrating of our key datasets across the university. We are measuring all aspects of this work using comprehensive analytics. We are also using the best in open-source features along with our current enterprise systems, leveraging industry partners for key components only when required. The university is in fact already taking some big steps in the right direction. Some examples include: In December 2010, an agreement was signed with Google to provide students, faculty and staff with Google Apps for Education—a key building block for our vision as we move forward. In late March, U of A students were invited to begin making the switch over to Google Apps for Education. In the first nine days, 23,000 students made the switch. We have begun migrating eClass to Moodle 2.0, a robust open-source learning management system that offers an improved set of features for instructors and students, and which integrates with Google. In the fall of 2010, UAlberta became the first Canadian Foursquare Campus, and already has more than 10,000 check ins at our campus locations. The university is also utilizing a variety of other social media platforms to interact with students, faculty and staff, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr and Memolane. A uAlberta app has been designed for the iPhone, with other platforms (Blackberry, Android) in development—providing easy access to U of A news, events, courses, timetables, maps of campus and transit information. Enabled by our web, mobile, social networks and IT systems capabilities, we hope to create the best, leading-edge digital infrastructure for teaching and learning at any Canadian university. Our initiative will tap into an interdisciplinary team of faculty experts and online technology leaders who will collaborate in designing and implementing a fully accessible, usable and mobile digital environment as part of a new five-year IT plan under development. That environment will integrate features from Google, Moodle, our social media networks and our core data in Peoplesoft, libraries and research. This initiative has already received tremendous support and input from our faculties, units, students and alumni, and will require continued commitment from the entire university community. We encourage your feedback as we move towards our ultimate goal of becoming the best example of a post-secondary digital learning environment in the country. If you have any questions about the university’s web strategy, I would be happy to answer them here on the blog or via email. Jennifer Chesney Executive director, web strategy at 9:01 AM 18 comments Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to Pinterest Links to this post Labels: Web Monday, March 28, 2011 On Comments Several people have indicated to us that they have submitted comments to the site that were not approved for posting. Comments on Colloquy must abide by the community guidelines outlined on the site, but we have not even seen these comments, and are therefore trying to determine how and when they were lost. We believe it might have something to do with different versions of Firefox, and will be doing some testing today to determine whether or not that is the source of the problem. In the meantime, we ask that you leave comments either by using a different web browser, or by sending them to us through the contact form. We apologize for the inconvenience, and are working to solve the problem as quickly as we can. **Update** We believe we have found the issue. In Firefox, users will need to enable third party cookies. Instructions on how to do that can be found here. at 10:23 AM 2 comments Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to Pinterest Links to this post Labels: General Tuesday, March 22, 2011 First Comprehensive Institutional Plan Approved "A new document that outlines the University of Alberta’s short- and long-term plans, goals and resource needs, was approved by the university’s board of governors March 18." Highlights of the University of Alberta's Comprehensive Institutional Plan (CIP) can be found here. at 8:28 PM 4 comments Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to Pinterest Links to this post Labels: CIP First Day of Spring Brings New Academic Plan Yesterday afternoon, members of General Faculties Council (GFC) approved Dare to Deliver, the University of Alberta's Academic Plan for 2011–2015. Receiving a strong endorsement from representatives of the academic professional officers, the Students' Union and the Graduate Students Association, Dare to Deliver passed with near-unanimous support (86 in favour, 2 abstentions, 1 opposed). The academic plan is the academy's response to the vision set out in Dare to Discover, and thus articulates the academic goals and aspirations for the University of Alberta over the next four years. Building on four cornerstones—Talented People, Learning, Discovery and Citizenship, Connecting Communities and Transformational Organization and Support—Dare to Deliver will “allow us to refocus on and consolidate our core strengths in teaching and research, reinvigorating our commitment to delivering the kind of extraordinary student experience associated with a great university.” Over the past 12 months, the academic plan went through many drafts and iterations. We received an enormous amount of feedback and advice from a wide array of individuals, representing the entire campus community. This has truly been a team effort, and we would like to thank everyone who committed their time, energy and effort in making the academic plan a reality. Once again, the campus community has illustrated that talented, committed people are the driving force behind the University of Alberta’s success as a post-secondary institution. Below is the PowerPoint presentation delivered at GFC yesterday, providing an overview of the new academic plan. The presentation is also available as a Google Doc. A complete version of the entire academic plan can be found here. Academic Plan GFC Presentation March 21, 2011 View more presentations from universityofalberta. Carl Amrhein Provost, vice-president (academic) Lorne Babiuk Vice-president (research) **Correction** In this post, APOs were mistakenly identified as "academic professional officers," rather than "administrative and professional officers." We apologize for the typo. at 2:39 PM 1 comments Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to Pinterest Links to this post Labels: Academic Plan Monday, March 21, 2011 A Clarification-Letter to the Editor Note: This letter was sent to the Edmonton Journal on March 15 as an official correction on the record. It has yet to appear in the Journal; therefore, we are publishing it here on the blog for all to see. We agree wholeheartedly with Dr. G.E. Swaters’ assessment in his March 15 letter that University of Alberta faculty are among the best and most sought-after academics in the world. Our academics are a genuine point of pride for the entire community, and are the reason the university has an excellent reputation at home and around the world. We further agree that as the province’s flagship university we need adequate funding to provide the superior education that Albertans expect and deserve. I must correct, however, several errors in Dr. Swaters’ letter and clarify other misperceptions in his simplified presentation of complex issues. We at the university highly value our academic staff. Indeed, we value all of our people, including support staff. Negotiations are not simply about salary, but about total compensation that includes salary, merit pay and benefits in a province with very low taxes. I would like to clarify the following points raised by Dr. Swaters: • When citing salary settlements of at least 1.5 per cent taking effect at other Alberta universities on July 1, 2011, he neglected to mention that those universities’ faculty received a zero percent increase in ’10-11 when U of A faculty received a 4.75 per cent increase. Academic staff at the U of A subsequently agreed to reduce this pay increase to 2.45 per cent for 2010-11 by taking furlough days (days off without pay), but the remaining 2.3 percent will be restored this April 1. So in fact, all U of A academic staff will see their salaries increase April 1 by 2.3 per cent, regardless of the outcome of the current negotiations and arbitration. • The university does have a performance-based compensation system beyond the negotiated across-the-board increases. These merit raises average an additional 2.3 per cent across the academic staff. • Budgets are indeed about priorities and there is no larger component of the U of A budget than that spent on salaries and benefits. Dr. Swaters has claimed that the amount spent on academic salaries as a proportion of the operating grant has gone down, when in reality it has remained constant. In fact, actual dollars spent on academic salaries and benefits as a percentage of total operating expenditures increased from about 46 per cent in ’06 to 48 percent in ’10, a significant real dollar increase from $281 million to $399 million over that same period. Finally, it would be irresponsible to reach a settlement with one staff group that may have disastrous results for our other employees. Avoiding layoffs is one of the key goals at this time as it was last year. Chris Cheeseman, PhD Vice-provost and associate vice-president, Human Resource Services Professor of physiology, University of Alberta **Update** The Letter to the Editor appears in today's Edmonton Journal. at 2:11 PM 16 comments Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to Pinterest Links to this post Labels: AASUA U of A Goes Google Starting today, all undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Alberta are invited to "Go Google" and make the switch to uAlberta Gmail. Gmail is part of Google Apps for Education, which also includes calendaring, document preparation tools, chat, video calls, websites and more. The University of Alberta is the first large university in Canada to make the switch to Google Apps. There are many groups on campus that are eager to make the switch, and there are some that are more cautious, wanting to minimize the impact of the switch on their day-to-day work. To keep the transition manageable, we are taking a staged approach to deployment: today we start moving students on AICT ("central") email, and in the near future we will move on to staff. We will continue to work with the faculties, departments and units to understand their needs and develop a schedule to get the rest of the university community switched over as soon as possible. It will take many months to move the entire university over to Google. For all students: please go to the switch site, where you will be taken through the process of "Going Google." It is simple (just point and click), and should only take a few minutes to go through three easy steps: 1. Get Started This step will give you access to Google Apps and prepare you to use uAlberta Gmail. You will be provided with the benefits of using Google Apps. After verifying your CCID and password you will be asked to agree to the terms and conditions. 2. Activate Email This step will provide you with the details and benefits of using uAlberta Gmail. After reviewing, you will have the opportunity to redirect your new email; however, we recommend using the web-based Gmail interface. 3. Move Old Mail This step gives you the option to move your existing email messages to uAlberta Gmail. You will be placed in a queue, and your email messages will be moved within five business days. It is important to note that your @ualberta.ca email address will remain unchanged, even after you have switched to Gmail. Once you make the switch over to Gmail, you will also have single sign-on access to Bear Tracks, so you won’t have to log in multiple times. If you have any questions, concerns or problems when switching to uAlberta Gmail, please contact the AICT Helpdesk. Jonathan Schaeffer Vice Provost and Associate VP (IT) Further Links for Students Google Sync for Mobile Devices Backgrounder One Page Overview Frequently Asked Questions Enabling Multiple Sign-Ins **Update** More information on the switchover from Express News, The Gateway, and The Google Blog. **Update** Students can also enter a contest to win an iPad 2, a 42 inch plasma television, an Android phone, and other great prizes. at 10:18 AM 26 comments Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to Pinterest Links to this post Labels: Google Friday, March 18, 2011 Earth Hour Earth Hour 2011 is a one-hour event during which more than a billion of people around the world unite to support solutions on climate change. This year, the University of Alberta’s Office of Sustainability and WWF Canada will celebrate with multiple exciting events in the days leading up to and surrounding Earth Hour: March 22: Energy Conservation Lunch and Learn Workshop March 23: Speakers Series and Knowledge@Noon present Climate Change March 25: Earth Hour Pledge Party March 14-26: One Hour. No Power: Campus Challenge March 14-26: Darkest Tower for the Hour (Lister Centre) March 16-28: Climate Trail – The Pathfinder Towards Global Solutions Display March 26: City of Edmonton Earth Hour Activities More information about each of these events, as well as 10 suggestions on how you can make an impact during Earth Hour, can be found on the Office of Sustainability Earth Hour webpage. One Hour. No Power: Campus Challenge. Let the competition begin! In celebration of Earth Hour, and to show our support for this international campaign, the Office of Sustainability is hosting a multi-campus challenge between NAIT, Grant MacEwan University, NorQuest College and the University of Alberta. The “One Hour. No Power: Campus Challenge” runs March 14–26 and invites schools to join in a friendly challenge to collect pledges of participation in Earth Hour. The school with the greatest number of students, staff and faculty (per capita) who pledge to go dark between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. on March 26 will claim the win. Each person who pledges will be entered into a draw to win one of many great prizes. Show your school pride and help the U of A win the challenge! Take five minutes to pledge by clicking on the “One Hour. No Power” icon on the Office of Sustainability's Earth Hour webpage. Trina Innes Director, Office of Sustainability at 3:30 PM 0 comments Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to Pinterest Links to this post Labels: Earth Hour Friday, March 11, 2011 Festival of Tweeting Yesterday, we saw the power of social media at work in celebration of U of A teachers. It all started when a couple of U of A alumni and staff members (and active tweeters) were spontaneously inspired by this week’s Festival of Teaching to tweet about their favorite U of A professors on Wednesday afternoon. By Thursday morning, the hashtag #FoT was created on the main U of A account so that Twitter users to could call up the feed of tweets associated with the topic, and more and more students and alumni began to share not only the names of their favourite professors, but also the reasons why they enjoyed their classes so much. The responses were instantaneous, spontaneous and unfiltered. In only 140 characters, students expressed heartfelt and thoughtful thanks to the professors who have had a lasting impact on their lives. More responses also arrived on our Alumni Facebook page. In total, around 168 175 180 185 professors were named, with many of them garnering multiple mentions. The names include professors who have been long retired to those still teaching, and include faculty, sessionals, teaching assistants and graduate students. Entire class sections and departments were also mentioned. Below is a full list of professors mentioned by students. We didn’t want to delay this post, so we have relied on the information provided by students and have not verified spelling or the Faculty for each teacher. We apologize for any misspelling or duplication that may occur. If you would like to see the individual tweets themselves, you can find them here. These tweets will disappear from the feed after several days, but we will download and archive them for posterity. It’s thrilling to know that our students, alumni and staff have such enthusiasm for their teachers and this institution. We are also delighted (but not surprised!) that so many instructors were recognized, and we will continue to look at ways to recognize all of our extraordinary teachers, through both our social media platforms, as well as more traditional venues. Anne Naeth Colleen Skidmore Festival of Teaching Co-Chairs Teachers Mentioned Mark Simpson Rob Wilson Tom Keating Kathryn Chandler Steve Patten Brian Maraj Jane Batcheller Greg Anderson Ken Munro Don Page David Wangler JP Himka Carmen Ropchan Anthony Craggs Dr. Reynolds Max Baird David Pierce Andrew Gow Kathryn Todd Julie Rak Frances Swyripa Ruth Dyck-Federhau Josef Takats Tyler Wry Don Carmichael Linda Kerr David Barnet Vince Davis Frank Robinson Kirk Kaminsky Adam Morton Gordon Lee Jim Lightbody Heather Zwicker Christopher Cairo Lesley Cormack Andrew Derocher January Lim RR Hett Cristina Stasia Michael Harrington Robert Merrett Henry Lewis Ross Bradford Barbara Churchill Bob Solomon Ria Busink Alex Hamilton H.A. Hargreaves Rick Bowers Roger Driver Gord Walker Naomi Krogman Flay Fletcher Tom Hinch Liz Czach Mike McGregor Pat Demers Andrew Greenwald David Begg Nancy Lovell Ray Rasmussen Erhan Erkut Judith Garber Natasha Hurley Al Meldrum Nick Wickenden Alberto Reyes Doug Roche David Gay Marvin Dudas Juliet McMaster Sharon Romeo D.M. Blythe Shirley Neuman Bill Meloff Colleen Cassady Susan Robertson David Mills Noreen Willows Brad Humphreys Dr. Hogeveen Doug Peterson F.C. Decoste Andrew Leach Joseph Doucet Dan Scott Loretta Armstrong Judy Gnarpe Thomas Powrie Issac Issac Edmund Aunger Jeffrey Kavanaugh Connie Varnhagen Susan Smith Paul Cartledge Gerald McCaughey Chris Fletcher Bora Kolfal Douglas Wardell Katie Waterhouse Theo Finigan Jeff Schimel Monique Tschofen Chris Grignard Michael Snyder Marina Allemano Father Brian Inglis Wesley Cooper Kwame Boadu Lisa Prichard Janet Wesselius Hubert Taube Martin Davies Alan Murray Lawrence Aronsen Jay Hodgson David Goa Chris Sprysak Olenka Bilash Frances Frazer David Kahane Paul Beach Francis Tally Jana Grekul Andy Weaver Brian Harris Hoyne Santa-Balazs Jon Parrish Doug Parker Franco Pasutto Calvin Wong Ted Bishop Fakhreddin Jamali Peter Sinnema Scott Forbes Andas Merosi Mani Vaidyanathan Mark Blythe Mike Maier Rachel McQueen Melissa Jaques Rasmus Fatum Billy Strean Heidi Studer Richard Field Lia Daniels Brad Bucknell Dave Whitson Greg Thomas Alex Hawkins Bert Almon Patrick Thauberger John Bowman Margaret Van de Pitte Stephen Slemon Ronald Davey Ian Urquhart Mort Ross Jim Swaffield Bill Meilen Dorothy Thunder Jan Jagodzinski Al Meldrum Daniel W Smith James Mulvihill Herb Northcott Martin Cowie Rashid Kashani Catherin Kellog David Chorney Carol Boliek Frank Peters Melanie Campbell Gary Wells Michael O'Driscoll Marlene Cox Bishop Helena Fracchia Edy Wong Allan Warrack Doug Aoki Diane Naugler Lynn McMullen Cecily Devereux Jay Scherer Doug Brimacombe Cheryl Poth Science 100 teachers Entire Art History department at 2:07 PM 11 comments Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to Pinterest Links to this post Labels: Festival of Teaching Thursday, March 10, 2011 Update on Compensation Negotiations From the Human Resources webpage: The negotiating teams of the AASUA and the Board and Governors agreed to extend compensation negotiations to March 7, 2011. Despite best efforts, no agreement has been reached. Both sides continue to discuss next steps in the process, and will apprise the university community as decisions on process are reached. Ian MacLaren Chair, AASUA Compensation Negotiations Committee Dru Marshall Chair, Board of Governors Compensation Negotiations Committee Because negotiations are ongoing, we cannot respond to questions or comments, and are therefore closing off the comments for this post. at 9:40 AM Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to Pinterest Links to this post Labels: AASUA Monday, March 7, 2011 Response to the Provincial Budget Further to the post on February 25th, here are more details on the 2011-2012 provincial budget. As you undoubtedly know, the Alberta government recently tabled the provincial budget in the legislature. The good news for the University of Alberta is that there are no surprises. The zero per cent increase to our Campus Alberta Grant for 2011–12, as announced in the budget, was what the government told us to expect, and thus, is what we have been preparing for with the university’s budget. Unfortunately, the zero per cent will result in an actual decrease of at least two per cent across the academy because there is no allowance for inflation or other cost growth. I want to take this opportunity to go over the specific aspects of the provincial budget that are salient for the university and outline any particular implications for the U of A. Here are the budget highlights as they affect the university: Lights On Funding The province confirmed lights on funding for the Edmonton Clinic Health Academy and for the Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Science at $9.8 million base, with an additional $2.2 million in soft funding (which will eventually be rolled into base). This provides us with funding as originally agreed to by the province when the decision to go ahead with both projects was made. This is particularly good news as we are now able to proceed with our scheduled occupancy plans for both of these important projects. AHFMR Funding The government, via Alberta Innovates, is providing $118 million over eight years for AHFMR transition funding. We will be communicating a great deal more about this, certainly to those affected by the changes. Over the eight years, the university will work toward securing an agreement for base funding on the positions affected by the AHFMR changes. The $118 million is directed funding to be used only for AHFMR transition. Infrastructure Maintenance Funding We received a small increase of $1 million in infrastructure maintenance funding for a total of $22 million for 2011–12. This funding, too, can only be used for its allotted purpose. $20 million for Post-Secondary Sector The budget makes available to the province’s entire post-secondary education sector $20 million in order to relieve enrolment pressures. The university was informed by the government that these funds will not be distributed until the fall and the monies will be allocated to all post-secondary institutions in Alberta. The intent of the funding is to relieve some of the pressure we are facing with our current unfunded students. $5 million Campus Alberta Allocation The U of A is developing an IT-related proposal and will submit it for consideration for funding from this $5 million funding pool. Recruitment and Retention Allocation The budget allocated another $6 million to be dispersed among the four universities in the province to be used for recruiting and retaining faculty. The universities’ presidents will work directly with the provincial government and the Alberta Innovates councils to determine how the funding will be most effectively spent. It is our understanding that there are specific spending limitations tied to this funding. Access to the Future Fund While indicating it remains strongly committed to the Access to the Future Fund, the government has suspended fund payments for the next two years. The University of Alberta has more than $110 million in donations awaiting matching monies from the fund and stopped accepting donations with a matching option almost two years ago. We are working with the deans to develop mitigation strategies and will be communicating with our donors about how the fund’s temporary suspension may affect their donations. Fiscal challenges remain for both the province and the university. We appreciate the very difficult financial situation the province is navigating. And we believe the province is sincere in its commitment to post-secondary education in the province – Advanced Education and Technology was, for example, one of just three ministries without budget cuts, and our minister was able to fulfil all commitments. We will continue to meet with government and make the case that we need a minimum of four per cent increases in future years, along with additional, targeted funding if we are to meet our commitments to providing excellence in research, teaching and learning. When we know what the specific implications are to the deans' and vice-presidents' budgets, we will communicate that to the university community. Carl Amrhein Provost, Vice President Academic at 3:26 PM 9 comments Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to Pinterest Links to this post Newer Posts Older Posts Home Subscribe to: Posts (Atom) Search This Blog Loading... About this blog This blog is published by the University of Alberta to provide an official forum for information sharing, discussion and debate about current topics relevant to the university. The president, vice-presidents, their designates and Colloquy staff will post entries as often as possible to share news and address issues, rumours, questions and decisions. Comments and questions will be moderated by Colloquy staff. Questions will be answered as soon as possible. To suggest a topic of discussion, please use the Contact Us link. Latest Comments Loading... Subscribe Posts Atom Posts All Comments Atom All Comments Links University of Alberta Homepage News & Events (ExpressNews) Folio Change@UAlberta Office of the President Living our Promise The Gateway UofA on Twitter UofA on Facebook UofA on Foursquare Blog Archive ▼ 2015 (62) ▼ September (3) Blog Refresh From the President's Desk: Sept 1, 2015 Richard (Dick) W. 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