by Marie Valla
With teaching, theres always room for improvement. Thats why,
every year, the office of the Provost and Vice-Rector Research provides
Faculty Teaching Development (FTD) grants through the Centre for Teaching
and Learning Services (CTLS).
The grants, worth $2,000 to $8,000, reward faculty members and librarians
for coming up with new ways of helping students learn.
Olivia Rovinescu, director of the CTLS, explained. What the jury
is looking for are projects that affect the greatest number of students,
that involve teams of faculty members working together, that show interdisciplinarity,
and that have technological implications.
Prior to the current McConnell Project, also called the Pilot Technology
Pedagogy project, FTD grants were the only internally available grants
for teachers who wanted to develop the delivery of curriculum on the Web,
an increasingly popular goal. This years jury identified 13 projects,
all very different in scope.
Digital images for art lectures
Andrew Dutkevitch teaches a class on contemporary sculpture, and proposes
to replace the slides he uses in his lectures with images in digital format.
The idea came to him when he realized that an increasing number of his
students use laptops and video projectors in their presentations.
Instantaneity and flexibility are two advantages offered by the digital
format, he pointed out. Instructors can provide up-to-date material without
the wait for slides to be duplicated from exhibition catalogues, and artists
and museums can be accessed through their Web sites. The digital format
is also better suited to three-dimensional sculpted works, as opposed
to slides, which are static images.
Dutkevitch will hire graduate students to research and process the data
as this project unfolds in the fall.
Communication over the Net
Cyber-technology is also at the root of Mia Lobel and Professor Randy
Swedburgs project, originating in the Department of Applied Human
Resources. They are asking whether we can actually develop interpersonal
communication skills over the Internet, where there is no face-to-face
Meeting in real time in a virtual classroom, connected to each other through
their computers, teacher and students will identify the skills that allow
them to conduct classes online. Online conferencing is already used by
major corporations to connect their offices around the world, and Lobel
and Swedburg feel that universities can do the same.
The course is scheduled for next fall, but the appropriate software is
already being developed. To be able to work with the class in real time,
the challenge is to research and analyze the data simultaneously, a task
that will be done with the aid of graduate students.
Digital logic construction
Learning by doing and breaking data down into information components are
the concepts crucial to Nawwaf Kharmas Magic Blocks project.
A professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, Kharma
has designed a prototype construction kit for learning the basics of digital
logic construction. His goal is to teach people how to think without preplanning
It is really like a Lego construction kit, he said.
His game provides a way to learn to work with concepts. The kit comprises
a board and six configurable blocks equipped with chips that can be connected.
Each block represents one conceptual activity, such as input
or memory. The last element of the game is used to package
This summer, Kharma and two graduate students will build and test the
blocks, designing the board, some examples of constructions and the users
manual. In the fall, he hopes that his students will be able to give feedback
on the prototype, and then Kharma will look for industrial support to
Guest lectures on video
Thanks to videos produced by the Journalism Department, Mike Gasher, Peter
Downie and Barry Conway plan to bring the newsroom into the classroom.
Each video, based on interviews with former students and working journalists,
will address specific technical aspects of the profession, such as journalism
ethics or the art of interviewing.
Videos are a good alternative to inviting guest speakers talk to the class,
Gasher explained. Guest speakers often arent available when you
need them, and theres no money to pay them.
Two Journalism students will be hired to assist TV veterans Downie and
Conway to produce broadcast-quality pieces. The goal is to get one or
two 15- to 40-minute-long videos ready for September.
Film lecture on painter Ozias Leduc
Different topic, but the same medium: François-Marc Gagnon, the
head of the new Jarislowsky Institute for Studies in Canadian Art, and
three of his colleagues from Art History will work on the production of
a pilot video on Quebec painter Ozias Leduc.
More than a documentary, the film is really a class, with Gagnon acting
as the teacher, lecturing on four different aspects of Leducs work
presented in situ. In addition to the lecture, there will be a document
that includes theoretical questions, technical aspects and a bibliography.
The Ozias Leduc episode could be the first of a series of televised lectures
on 20th-century Canadian art shown on cable, on Canal Savoir. Gagnon took
part to similar projects while teaching at the Université de Montréal.
The idea is to create a TV course that could be for credit, but would
also be accessible to a broad audience.
Faculty Teaching Development
Grant Recipients for 2001:
Philippe Caignon, Diane Sauvé (Études françaises,
Library): Création dun manuel, transferable dans lenvironnement
WebCT, destiné à la formation des étudiantes et des
étudiants dun cours dinvitation à la recherche
Eusebius Doedel, Pankaj Kamthan (Computer Science): Numerical Analysis
Education in XML and Java
Andrew Dutkewych (Studio Arts): Sculpture in Digital Format
François-Marc Gagnon, Jean Belisle, Brian Foss, Kristina Huneault
(Art History): Ozias Leduc: A Modern Quebec Painter
Mike Gasher, Peter Downie, Barry Conway (Journalism): Bringing Newsroom
to the Classroom: Theme-Specific Interviews with Working Journalists
Nawwaf N. Kharma (Electrical and Computer Engineering): Magic Blocks:
A Digital Logic Construction Set
Michael Longford et al (Design Art): Mediating the Visual: A Collaborative
Assessment of Means to Explore Image-Text Relationships and Graphic Agitation
in the Urban Environment
Michael Sampson (Economics): Preparation for the Electronic Publication
of Three Economics Textbooks
Ted Stathopoulos (Building/Civil/Environmental Engineering): Educational
Models for the Dynamics Course
Randy Swedberg, Mia Lobel (Applied Human Sciences): Research,
Develop and Implement eAHSC/230
Fred Szabo et al (Mathematics/Statistics): Mathematics Appreciation:
Visual and Interactive Resources for Teaching and Learning
Hal Thwaites (Communications Studies): Introduction to Digital
Communication: Upgrade to a Web-based Version 2.0
Catherine Vallejo, Luis Ochoa, Luz Janeth Ospina (Classics/Modern
Languages/Linguistics): You Have to Know the Lab to Use the Lab