The first issue of the CUOL newsletter for 2012

In this Issue:

Welcome to 2012

Taking the mystery out of Chemistry

A Prof goes the extra mile

Learning Support Services (LSS)


Want to catch a Senators game for FREE?

Dust off the desk and crack open the textbook – school’s back in session. Read through this month’s newsletter to see why that’s not

something to bemoan.

Welcome to 2012!

There’s a lot to look forward to this year, and CUOL has everything you need to make it a successful winter semester.

Knock knock. (Who’s there.) 2012! Cue collective groan. Welcome back to a new year full of new classes, new opportunities, and hopefully better jokes. CUOL is pleased to announce the arrival of a few new profs to our team, and would also like to take this opportunity to do some post-holiday housekeeping and give basic information for new students.

How do I watch my lectures?

You have a few options here. You can watch the class on Rogers Digital Cable (channel 243 is part of the basic digital package), or if you consider TVs a thing of the past you could stream the course during regular broadcast on the CUOL website. Want even more convenience? Subscribe to Video on Demand for flexible online access.  Once subscribed ($50 per course per term), go to the VOD login page and use your WebCT username and password to get to your course list.  You will be able to stream or download the lectures at your convenience.  To subscribe to VOD, add the “On Demand” section in Carleton Central to your existing registration. Also, CUOL students can still sit in on the class, provided there are seats available, if they so desire. Look for the time and location in Carleton Central, since it won’t be the same as the broadcast time. Still want more options?

• View your lectures for free at the VOD kiosks located in the CUOL Student Centre (D299 Loeb)

• Web-only courses (CHEM

3201 and CDNS 2210) – get your

materials through WebCT!

• Use Pay-Per-Lecture to rent

occasional missed lectures online for

one week via the CUOL website using your campus card ($6 per lecture week);

I am a distance student. How do I write my exams and midterms?

Please note: local CUOL students do not need to register for examinations because they’ll write with the rest of the in-class students on campus.

Distance students must apply to write their exams in another location, either with a proctor or at one of our exams centres.

Eligible students who require distance exams must ensure that the appropriate examination application is received by the CUOL office before January 18th, 2012. Please go to the CUOL website to fill out the distance application form

and to get information on fees and procedures.

You must be in the T or V section of the course to receive the distance application form.

What if I need help?

Contact us friendly folk at CUOL!

Call us:


Email: for general CUOL questions for questions concerning VOD.

Or even visit us in person:

CUOL Student Centre in D299 Loeb

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Taking the mystery out of chemistry: CUOL Prof. Gerald

While Prof Buchanan admits lots of people become scared of chemistry in highschool, he insists it’s a fascinating and accessible discipline. To prove it, he demonstrated a popular classroom experiment for the CUOL newsletter

There’s nothing like burning potato chips to enliven a classroom. Besides the normal goings on – lecturing, scribbling, powerpointing – CUOL professor Gerald Buchanan likes to toss science demonstrations into the mix during his chemistry classes. And if we have anything to learn from Tom Cruise (besides the social pitfalls of certain spiritual beliefs) it is that people like explosions. We like things that amaze.

While it’s unlikely that the next Mission Impossible will feature blazing potato chips, the experiment does show the wow factor in chemistry – a field often marginalized because of its perceived dullness.

But as Buchanan dons ratty work gloves and sets a Ruffles regular chip on fire, chemistry seems anything but boring. He drops the ignited chip from between his pinched thumb and forefinger into a 400mL glass beaker sitting on the acid-stained table beneath. It continues to smolder for a good 20 seconds until nothing’s left but a blackened carbon shell. It lasted longer than the Sunchip.

Buchanan explains this is because high-calorie chips have more fat to burn through than those that are, say, baked.

He peers through his wire-rimmed glasses and states that even though he’s officially retired, he’ll continue teaching the class (Chemistry of Food, Drugs and Health) for as long as he can do a good job at it.

“It’s fun. I like explaining complicated stuff in simple terms.”

The online students seem to grasp his explanations as well as those in class; Buchanan says that through all his years of teaching this course the two sections’ grades seem to be pretty evenly matched.

In the class, Buchanan says students are able to learn about materials that are relevant and applicable to their everyday lives – such as vitamins, additives, marijuana, cocaine (not that anyone should apply cocaine to their everyday).

“The more you look into things in life, almost everything is chemically-based. So the trick is to explain it to people without alienating them.”

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A Prof goes the extra mile – both metaphorically and literally

When it comes to distance students, Nikola Milanovic wants to shorten the distance. Last term the law professor made the trek from Ottawa to Toronto, with the express purpose of holding office hours for his LAWS 2501 class’ distance students in the GTA. With papers due the following week, he expected that students might appreciate the chance to ask questions and talk in-person with their professor.

“I thought it was fair,” he said.

Starting three weeks prior, he made four or five announcements both during lectures and on WebCT that he would be making the trip.

However, turnout was somewhat disappointing. Only one student showed up at the predetermined time at the University of Toronto.

While the University covers travel costs to enrich the value of distance courses, Milanovic devoted two days for the trip and would like to see more students show up at future sessions.

To encourage attendance, Milanovic thinks he will extend the hours into the evening, so distance students who work full-time don’t have to take the day off – like the lone student who met with him did.

Still, that eager student sure did seem to appreciate it, he said. She had driven for over an hour from Barrie to seek his guidance on the term paper (which was worth 50% of their grade) and he spent a long time working through material with her. He plans to follow up after marking, to see if her grades went up as a cause of the meeting.

Milanovic admits that as a general rule, professors’ office hours are largely neglected; other reasons for the paltry attendance could be that it was too close to deadline and students were holed up in library basements furiously last- minute writing, or perhaps had fallen behind on their lectures and missed the announcement. Next time, he says he’ll try to take these factors into consideration.

As much as Milanovic would like to visit Japan, where he once had a distance student, he unfortunately can’t make special trips to everywhere he has pupils enrolled. Toronto, where he had about 10 students registered, made the most sense. “I just have to hope that more people will come next time around,” he says. “We always talk about distance students, delivering distance education… why don’t we just shorten the distance?”

And for at least one student, he has.

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Learning Support Services for CUOL Students

Just because you’re not on campus doesn’t mean you don’t get on-campus perks. Throughout the term, Learning Support Services (LSS) is planning a significant revamp of their online resources to make them more accessible for students to use without having to physically go to the Library.

As it stands, LSS offers a variety of online workshops and access to the Top 10 Tips series for every academic challenge that you might encounter as a university student. There are the workshops include:

Workshops on writing essays, note-taking, preparing for and writing exams, academic reading, critical thinking, and strategies for proofreading.

The Top 10 series includes an even broader selection of topics – everything from research skills, to time management, to improving memory and concentration!

As a bonus, if you complete 5 workshops and submit the completed workshop activities for each, then you will receive your Skills for Academic Success Certificate – which is recorded through your Co-Curricular Record.

For access to LSS online workshops and resources or for more information about the Skills for Academic Success Certificate; please send an email to from your email account – you’ll be registered and then be able to access these LSS resources through WebCT.

And finally, if you are in Ottawa, but taking classes through CUOL – LSS also offers a tutor referral service through the MySuccess portal on Carleton Central; called MyTutor.

Through this service, you can apply to be a tutor or request a referral for a tutor. The advantage to this service is that you are guaranteed to be working with a qualified CU student that has already successfully completed the course that you need help with. For more information, please visit

Happy Learning!

LSS at a glance:

– study skills workshops

– course-specific tutor referrals

– tips for academic success

Read more online @ or follow them on twitter@CarletonU_LSS  for daily tips, reminders and motivational messages

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This month’s feature: StayFocusd

You know that feeling when you log onto facebook to give ‘er a quick check and glance at your watch and suddenly it’s three hours later? Perhaps not, if your willpower was molded and honed by buddhist monks – but for the rest of us poor souls, it’s a chronic enigma.

To help yourself waste less time on the classic time-gobbling websites (or really any website that serves as procrastination), I point your attention towards StayFocusd.

StayFocusd is a FREE Google Chrome extension that caps the amount of time you can spend on certain sites. It shows you – in a very concrete, countdown clock in the top-right corner of your window sort of way – the shameful amount of time you actually spend mindlessly surfing. But the best thing about it: it’s ultra customizable.

You can decide which days, and during which times you want it to restrict your surfing (maybe you want full reign on the weekends). You can moderate specific pages or paths, or eliminate entire sites. This means you could allow Youtube, but not search paths that involve ‘cute cat videos.’ You can set challenges for yourself that make changing the settings to give yourself more time into a hassle. For extreme crunch time, there’s also their nuke option. This is a no-turning-back, complete-elimination setting that you can enable for how many hours you choose. I myself have been too much of a sissy to try that one yet.

The one thing I would personally like to see implemented is the ability to set different time restrictions for different sites. As it

stands now, you set a single umbrella time limit that covers any and all sites you choose to blacklist. It’s also only available on Google Chrome, but that’s easily downloadable, and in itself a very intuitive browser.

Of course there are always ways to get around StayFocusd’ wagging finger, such as simply opening another browser, but this plug-in works so hard to help you. So let it.

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Want to catch a Senators game for FREE?

Just email CUOL a short story, detailing your experiences as a CUOL student or professor, and if we choose to publish yours in next month’s newsletter, we’ll set you up with a pair of tickets! Stories should be 150-300 words, and can focus on a funny tale, an enlightening moment, or some other way CUOL has affected your life.

Games you could win:               

Feb. 7,     7:30 pm     – St. Louis Blues

Feb. 9,     7:30 pm     – Nashville Predators

Feb. 26,   5:00 pm     – New York Islanders

Mar. 10,  7:00 pm     – Buffalo Sabres

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Apr. 5,     7:30 pm     – Boston Bruins