In this Issue:                                                   pdf copy

Professor Profile: Jacques Maurice

Academic Counseling for Distance Students

Tech Corner: Understoodit

Campus Habitat

Campus Connection

 This month CUOL talks to a trailblazing professor who is changing the way we do distance education. Read on to learn more!

Professor Profile: Jacques Maurice

This accounting professor is bringing Carleton’s business faculty into the realm of online education. And he’s doing it all from home.

Jacques Maurice

When I first spoke with Jacques Maurice, he was wintering in South Carolina with his retired wife and “the dog.” There, with the Atlantic Ocean outside his window, the professor was working on something never before done within the Carleton Sprott School of Business. He was laying the groundwork for the faculty’s first two exclusively online courses.

The material he was writing will serve as his guide when he home-records all his courses’ lecture videos over the next few months. Usually, professors work with videographers and other experts from Carleton’s Educational Development Centre to film their lectures. Not Maurice. Given his longstanding reputation for technological innovation in the classroom, the university gave him the green light to produce the videos himself.

It didn’t hurt that Maurice has been producing very similar video courses for the Society of Chartered Management Accountants of Ontario since 1999. He’d watched first-hand as distance education moved from VHS delivery to DVD delivery, and finally – with the advent of broadband – to streaming online video.

To produce the videos Maurice bought all his own equipment (lights, mic, document projector) and fashioned for himself a recording studio that was basic but effective. But he says the motivation to do so was almost entirely driven by self-interest.

Now, instead of traveling to spend three days in an empty office with an unfamiliar videographer on contract, he can go at his own pace and film in chunks.

“Taping for a whole day was exhausting,” Maurice says, adding that his new system produces high quality video.

The software he uses places him in the top right corner of the video, then projects whatever he wants to show – PowerPoint slides, a problem he’s solving on a piece of paper – onto the rest of the screen. He can also put in closed captioning, which he says past students taking the Chartered Management Accountants’ course have really enjoyed.

While Maurice is enthusiastic about technology and the conveniences it can afford us, he hasn’t forgotten the teaching strategies that he’s practiced in Carleton classrooms for the past 24 years. For example while filming the videos, he anticipates when students will start adopting the deer-in-the-headlights look. So he’ll repeat what was just covered, just as he’d do in class.

“I think online courses are here to stay, but I also don’t buy into what a lot of people are saying – about how the university will disappear and everything will be online.”

Broadband will get faster, and Maurice estimates that within the next 10 years CUOL will make up about half of the university’s course offerings. But there are some courses that he says just can’t be replicated online.

“We’re headed towards a hybrid model,” he says. And just as he watched DVD overtake VHS, I imagine he’ll witness this next shift in technology as well.


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Academic Counseling for Distance Students

Did you know that even if you don’t live near Carleton, you can still benefit from the academic counseling available on campus?

The Student Academic Success Centre (SASC) offers academic counseling over the phone and through email! So, the convenience of your flexible CUOL class viewing schedule extends to other aspects of your distance university experience. To a point, anyway – it’s unlikely that an advisor will be able to chat with you at three in the morning about how to read your audit.

In addition to understanding your audit, SASC advisors can help you choose or change your degree elements, explain academic rules and regulations, and explore the academic difficulties you may be experiencing, in order to help you develop a plan to get you back on track. And soon, there will be even more services available online. Come September, the center will begin releasing the learning support workshops previously only available at specific times on campus, through a grand launch called LSS On-Line. The modules will cover five topics, from time management, to active/academic reading, to academic integrity. The goal will be to add a couple of new workshops each year, Kelly Dumas, SASC manager, says.

At the same time, they plan to release video clips that highlight Carleton’s Top Ten series (ex: Top Ten tips for exam prep). SASC is working with a Carleton journalism student to put the video together, Dumas says, so it will be “produced by students, for students.”

SASC is also working towards an online essay zone, which would serve as the proposed equivalent to the writing tutorial service available in the MacOdrum library.

“I think we at Carleton recognize there’s a greater number of students who access our services who are distance students and we want to make sure that we’re equitable and accessible to everyone.”

To schedule a telephone meeting with an advisor, email SASC using your account and they will get back to you, often within 24 hours. You can also call them at 613-520-7850 and make arrangements for an advisor to call you back.


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Tech Corner

This Month’s Feature: Understoodit

Photo courtesy of

When in a large classroom, it can be daunting to raise your hand to ask a question. If you’re on the other side of the world and studying via CUOL, it’s impossible.

But a Toronto-based developer is inadvertently making the physical boundaries a non-issue. Understoodit – Liam Kaufman’s brainchild of 2012 – is basically a streamlined version of ‘clickers’ (an in-class polling system). Both systems help the teacher know if students are understanding the lecture material.

But unlike clickers, Understoodit has no clunky hardware to buy or maintain; it’s entirely internet-based and accessible to anyone with a laptop, tablet or smartphone. Also, while clickers involves asking a specific question that the students then answer, Understoodit users are simply presented with two unchanging options to click during the class: ‘understand,’ and ‘confused.’

It works like this: as the professor talks, students go to the professor’s Understoodit page and anonymously click one of the two options. The data is graphed and presented in real-time to the professor, who can tailor his/her material to the audience’s comprehension level or re-explain the subject accordingly. For free, anyone can sign up for Understoodit and start five polls per month (students don’t need to sign up to participate in them). For three dollars, the number of allowed monthly polls doubles, and the packages go up from there.

This service could be a boon for professors teaching online classes that are broadcast live. While some professors have been experimenting with and Twitter to receive long-distance questions during classtime, the simplicity of Understoodit seems like it would make for a smoother integration into the flow of a lecture.

The distance students wouldn’t just be remotely observing, they’d be participating.

Understoodit has been used in classrooms at the University of Toronto and Queen’s University, among others. For students, the service provides a low-profile way to let the teacher know whether or not they’re understanding. For teachers, it connects them with students who might have otherwise never reached out. 


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CUOL Habitat

Amanda Testa with her toy pomeranian, Mindy, who keeps her company

Major: BA Arts Honors Degree in Psychology (third year)

Current CUOL courses: Natural Disasters (ERTH2415V) and Abnormal Pscyhology (PSYC3604)

I live in Cornwall, Ontario and have been living here for 8 years now (although I was born and raised in Ottawa). For my first and second year in university, I did all my courses online so that I did not have to travel back and forth from Cornwall to Ottawa which was awesome! I saved an immense amount of money as I did not have to live in Ottawa and could still live at home with my family in Cornwall.

These days I’ve been particularly thankful to have CUOL because my grandmother passed away recently, so I am able to watch online the lectures I would have missed on a more conventional schedule. CUOL is such a great thing to have while you are doing your education because you are not able to control different life events that may take place suddenly, and it gives you the opportunity to catch up on what you missed. Eventually, I would like to become a Christian counselor.

Hey CUOL’ers,

Where do you watch YOUR lectures? At a coffeshop? On the couch? In bed? No matter where it is, we want to know. Send in a picture of you in your “CUOL habitat” with a 50-word description of you and your special class viewing spot, and if we publish it in our newsletter, we’ll send you free CUOL memorabilia (a toque, a USB and a pen)!

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Campus Connection: Love’s Labour’s Lost

Whether you’re an English major or just a thespian at heart, CUOL students near Ottawa should check out this theatrical campus event at the Kailash Mital Theatre. Get a taste of what the Carleton campus has to offer.

“The course of true love never did run smooth,” Shakespeare wrote. That certainly holds true for the plot of his play Love’s Labour’s Lost, which Carleton’s Sock ‘n’ Buskin theatre company will be performing from March 13-16. The play chronicles a king and his men who have taken an oath of scholarship, which happens to include a stipulation that they must avoid contact with women for three years. But as so often happens with matters of the heart, their pledge becomes compromised when a group of sweet young lady-royals roll into town…

Come watch comedic miscommunications abound! Reservations can be made by emailing

Include your name, email, and the number of general/student admissions you require. General admission is $15, and student/senior tickets are $12.


Coming Up Next…

This month, Professor Nick Milanovic will be traveling to Toronto to meet distance students at the University of Toronto. During the trip he’ll also be visiting the jail, where one of his students is incarcerated. Watch for the story in next month’s issue, when we talk to Milanovic about helping his student succeed in the course while behind bars.

Midterm Exams

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