|Put away those clippers, gentlemen – it’s the month of the Mo’!
And CUOL is doing its part by hosting a competition among some profs!
In this Issue: (pdf copy)
→Tech Corner – Microsoft Surface Tablet
Bruce Tsuji brings distance students as close to being in class as possible
This September, Bruce Tsuji will be among the first Carleton professors to broadcast his class – live – to hundreds of distance students while simultaneously teaching their in-class peers.
But he’s tweaking the process a bit, in a way that he hopes will make everyone feel more connected to each other. Distance students will not only be watching the class (PSYC 1001 and 1002) in real-time, they’ll be able to ask questions in real-time. He’s using polleverywhere.com, an online service that collects input and displays results on the PowerPoint display in a matter of seconds.
If a student in, say, Toronto has a question mid-way through the lecture, they will txt it to the site, and a TA monitoring incoming questions will alert Tsuji when there’s an appropriate pause.
“We’ve the got the pieces, the little building blocks in place that we can plug in the little holes that have been underserved up until now,” Tsuji says when I meet him at a downtown coffee shop. Tsuji talks with his hands. He has Ralph Lauren eyeglasses but sports the practical sandals of an outdoorsman; I later learn he’s an avid canoeist (both traditional and whitewater), sea kayaker and skydiver.
He’s been teaching the class for five years, so he knows that most of the students will be coming straight out of high school. Research shows that these kids will likely own cell phones and that they’ll use them more to text than talk, he says, tapping his phone with his left index finger. Which is why he thinks they’ll take to the idea of anonymously texting in their answers.
Tsuji says he’s an odd psychologist, in the fact that he has a history of working for tech companies. Also, his academic research has focused on how to adapt technology to make it more compatible with how humans think and act. This background makes him the ideal trailblazer for using technology to answer in‐class and distance student questions.
“It may blow up in our collective faces,” he says, “But if it does, we’ll learn from it and move on.”
He also plans to use Big Blue Button, a web-conferencing software bundled in with cuLearn to hold his office hours.
“I think we can really try to make this thing, where 750 students – who might be anywhere in the world – feel like they might actually be a part of one class. Even though they might be thousands of kilometers away.”
Bruce Tsuji teaches PSYC 1001 & 1002
|Windows Surface Tablet (Photo courtesy of trustedreviews.com)|
This month’s feature: Windows Surface Tablet
It may have just been released October 26th, but Microsoft’s new Surface tablet is already making waves. From the initial released teasers, the tech gadget certainly does appear to be well made and well designed. But that doesn’t mean made and designed with students in mind. In the February 2012 edition of OnLine Focus, we had a panel of Carleton engineers look at the worth of tablets in general; they concluded that, while neat, tablets lacked a keyboard and thus would not be that helpful to students.
However the Surface might just have the remedy, in that it offers cover‐cum-keyboard options. Both covers – which are dubbed Touch Cover and Type Cover – snap into the base of the tablet and, when closed, stick magnetically to the screen like the Ipad. While there are some other tablets with keyboard attachments, the Surface is wider than average with its ten and a half inch screen, and so typing on the cover feels more natural, report CNet reviewers who had the chance to give it a test‐run. Those same reviewers also gave a thumbs up to the reliability of the kick‐stand, which when used makes the tablet seem even more like a laptop.
The Surface will also feature the new Windows 8, with Office Home & Student pre‐installed.
Microsoft is certainly trying to lure more students. Their latest video advertisement is filmed on a set that looks half public park half college campus and features a hip‐looking guy who could have stepped out of a university brochure (also included: a whole choreographed dance sequence complete with break‐dancers.)
The Surface is a bit pricier than the average tablet (it starts at $519, or $619 with the Touch Cover) but it’s certainly not out of the ballpark – in fact it’s the same price as the new iPad. Still, it’s just barely been released, so there are a lot of question marks yet to be addressed.
One mature student learns that you never stop learning
Before six months ago, Roz Faubert never would have guessed she’d be auditing a CUOL comparative religious studies course out of pure interest. Then tragedy struck. There was a family heartache, and Faubert sought solace in the church; she became a born-again Christian.
But the previously irreverent Faubert – who works at Carleton as the project manager within the research and development department – wanted a more scientific base on which to stand, as opposed to a theological one. Most of her friends, she says, fall on the skeptical side of the spectrum, and she wanted to be able to discuss religion – if it arose in conversation – from as objectively educated a standpoint as possible. Zeba Crook’s class, RELI 1710 — Introduction to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, seemed like a good fit.
“It’s absolutely fascinating,” Faubert says. It has opened her eyes to fresh versions of stories, she says. Not versions that necessarily contradict the Bible, but simply introduce her to new ways of looking at things – things that make you go ‘Oh!’
It seems the experience has been rife with new experiences. She shares a story of making new friends in unexpected places: it started with a textbook. Basically, she needed to get one for the course. Erring towards thrift, Faubert contacted an Ottawa University student who had taken the course during the summer and was selling the book on Kijiji.com. He was Muslim; they started talking, and have stayed friends since.
Indeed, Faubert says that most of her friends who aren’t atheist or agnostic are now in fact Muslim.
“There’s just so much hate in the world,” she laments. It seems like if you stand up for one belief, people will assume you hate another. That’s just not right, she says.
It’s a lesson she wants to pass onto her two teenaged daughters and infant grandson.
Faubert graduated from Algonquin’s secretarial studies program (since renamed business administration) in 1982 and has been working at Carleton for the past nine years. She says that she was happy to audit the course since she wasn’t really looking to get another degree; she just wanted to extend her knowledge base.
Auditing a course involves listening to all class lectures, however no assignments or exams are done, and no credit is received. To audit a course, the interested party must ask the professor whether or not there is room, and in return the auditor could give feedback on the course organization and delivery.
|Mo 2011: Matthew Holahan and Patrick Lyons||This year’s Mo Challenge|
For the second year in a row, CUOL professors are putting their dignity on the line for men’s health. Join the fun and donate to your favourite prof!
The best moustache Patrick Lyons ever saw came riding on the upper lip of a renovator he once employed.
“It was fabulous… magnificent… the world’s shaggiest moustache,” said the CUOL director.
Following the success of last year’s CUOL Movember competition, a new crop of teachers have stepped up to the plate. While they aren’t required to grow a moustache – some have the arguable disadvantage of being women – they have all committed to wearing an Elvis costume for an entire lecture should they win. To win, they must raise the most money.
“Men’s health wins, and the CUOL community wins,” Lyons said.
As a point of solidarity and support, Lyons said he would also dress up Elvis-style along with the winning prof and sing a duet (Jailhouse Rock, anyone?) Full jumpsuit and hair styling will be required, though Lyons said they haven’t yet decided whether to go with early heartthrob Elvis or declining, pudgy Elvis. There will also be the option (for the men only) of dressing up like Barbara Streisand instead.
Of course, the contest’s rules don’t mean contestants can’t grow a moustache. Last year’s winner Matthew Holahan grew a particularly snazzy stache. Perhaps not as impressive as Lyon’s renovator, but such is what dreams are made of.
The CUOL Movember Challenge
The CUOL Movember Challenge is a competition between CUOL course instructors to see which one can raise the most funds per students.
Jeff Smith – CHEM 2302
Movember is a good cause, it’s well organized and growing facial hair is a secret desire of most men. I have attempted to grow non-Movember facial hair twice in my life before and failed miserably, eliciting the serious, unsolicited and uncontrolled descriptive reactions of (and I quote) “That is Hideous” and “You look Nasty”. Following that track record, I figured facial hair is a winning element of my style, and so I use Movember to exploit this and simultaneously raise funds for a good cause. Win win in my books. (Plus I can’t even really grow a moustache and whatever does come in is blonde and no one can see it anyway so I don’t embarrass myself, until it becomes clear that I’m actually trying to grow a moustache). May the best moustache win!
Cheryl Harasymchuk – PSYC/NEUR 2001
“I’m participating to raise money for a worthy cause and to enhance a sense of community among the CUOL team!”
Kim Hellemans – PSYC/NEUR 2200
Indeed! Why am I doing the challenge? Because I think I would look rather fetching in a sparkly jumpsuit ;) Only donations stand in the way of finding out!
Zeba Crooke – RELI 1710
My inspiration is to be the Lance Armstrong of Movember: I will be applying every hair-growth drug I can to my lip in order to be as bushy as I can be! I just hope there’s no drug testing in this competition.
Jeff Manthorpe – CHEM 3201
I’m doing the Movember challenge because my father and paternal grandfather had prostate cancer. In addition, 1 man in 6 will get prostate cancer. That’s even more frequent than breast cancer. The younger you are when it strikes the more dangerous it is. I know two guys who got it in their early 40’s. Students should choose me because I am going to grow a moustache that is ridiculous, entertaining and slightly disturbing all at the same time!
Peter Thompson – CDNS 1000
I’ve spent the past three or four years making excuses about why I was unable to participate in Movember: two years ago it was an important meeting, last year it was a wedding … the list goes on. This year, I don’t care what comes up: family photos, a funeral (god forbid), an appearance on a nationally-broadcasted television program; it doesn’t matter. I’ve prepped my family, my friends, my classes, and everyone else in my life: Movember is here, my moustache is on the way, and the best way to ease your discomfort is to donate to a great cause.
Julie Dempsey – PSYC/NEUR 2200
My motivation behind growing a mustache for Movember stems from both my dad and uncle being diagnosed with and succumbing to prostate cancer. My hope is to contribute to cancer awareness, detection and research so that this devastating disease will be cured within the near future. I also find that growing a mustache gives me an excuse to listen to 70’s classic rock, drive real fast and drink whiskey – not all at the same time, of course.
Bruce Tsuji – PSYC 1001
My first job in psychology was a summer I spent training about 120 rats to run mazes. Ever since, I’ve had a soft spot in my heart for the little rascals and I’m hoping to make a home for one on my upper lip this Movember!
Nandini Sarma – FINS 2105
Why Movember? Well, I was born in November so it seems fitting. And to celebrate and support all the wonderful men in my life: my husband and sons, my colleagues and friends. And who wouldn’t want to do their last lecture in full Elvis costume?
To donate, please follow this link.
|CUOL gratefully acknowledges the support of Malabar Ltd’s Ottawa store for the CUOL Movember Challenge.|
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that november is the most wonderful MO-nth of the year?
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CUOL offers an exam invigilation service to post secondary and professional development institutions from around the world. This year more than 1200 students and professionals have taken exams at CUOL.
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Want to try out VOD? Watch the first lecture of your CUOL course online! Just click on any VOD course shown here and you can view it for free.
Maria Brocklehurst / Patrick Lyons / Nestor Querido