Waterloo director to co-lead e-learning consortium
Cathy Newell Kelly, director of the centre for extended learning at the University of Waterloo, has been appointed as an interim executive director of the new Ontario Online Learning Consortium for a fixed one-year term.
The new Ontario Online Learning Consortium, or OOLC, was established in 2014 as a centre of excellence for online and technology-enabled learning, according to its July 2015 update. Going forward it will be known as eCampus Ontario, to “better communicate the organization’s mission” and ensure its name works both in French and English.
eCampus Ontario’s first priority is establishing a web-based portal that allows students to find online courses and look up information about the course’s transferability between institutions.
Newell Kelly will co-lead eCampus Ontario with interim executive director Linda Rees, formerly dean of the Algonquin College centre for continuing and online learning. Together, they will will work to “establish the new organization, deliver important early services and supports,” and support the group’s board of directors in developing its long-term vision and plan.
Cathy has been a key factor in ramping up Waterloo’s online and continuing education capacity over the last nearly two decades. She began in 1996 working directly with faculty as the source development co-ordinator in distance and continuing education, taking on additional responsibilities before assuming leadership for the entire portfolio as director of the centre for extended learning.
Today, thanks in part to Newell Kelly's leadership, CEL offers a fully online suite of course and program offerings and has racked up steady enrolment increases over time.
Newell Kelly is a passionate, long-time advocate for online learning. She has served as president of the Canadian Association for University Continuing Education, as well as president of the Ontario Council for University Lifelong Learning.
Aldo Caputo, associate director in CEL, will step in as interim director during Newell Kelly’s absence.
Tales of a Teacher: Sue Stathopulos
The decision to move away from home to attend university is nerve-wracking for many students. As Sue Stathopulos, a first-year chemistry lab instructor, explains, “it’s quite intimidating to come from wherever you’re coming from, regardless of whether you’re arriving from a large high school or a small high school. The university environment is much bigger — classes are considerably larger.” For this reason, Stathopulos works to ensure that her laboratory is a place where students can acquire not just knowledge but also skills and resources to help them with this transition.
As an instructor of first-year students, Stathopulos teaches basic lab skills. In the lab setting, Stathopulos has a hands-on teaching opportunity that most instructors in the classroom do not. “I have the opportunity to interact with students on a one-to-one basis frequently, where lecturers — the classes are huge — they’re one person standing at the front of the room with three or four hundred students.” This is why students enjoy the environment of CHEM 120L and 123L. As Aaron Chan, a CHEM 123L teaching assistant (TA), explains, “Working with Stathopulos is great because she creates a very friendly environment, making it easier to be approachable while teaching, which makes the lab more enjoyable but still informative for most students.”
Outside of the lab, Stathopulos says she likes “to get involved in a lot of first-year activities.” To this end, she has participated in student seminars regarding topics such as how to write lab reports. In conjunction with these seminars, and at the request of past students, Stathopulos plans to offer an open workshop this Fall term. The workshop will focus on the process of critiquing lab reports, to help students feel less overwhelmed by the task of report writing.
Stathopulos also encourages her students and TAs to participate fully in campus life. Since the TAs are closer in age to the students, it is easier for them to “get involved in the students’ lives and find out about them, learn about them, and I think they have excellent success in that.” Stathopulos believes that getting involved and seeing a familiar face every couple of weeks “significantly benefits the students!”
For Stathopulos, the most rewarding part when mentoring first-year students is the “light bulb” moment: “When you see a student ‘get it’ — they finally realize that ‘You know what, I can do this university thing and I don’t have to be intimidated’ — I think that’s the biggest achievment.” In the lab, Stathopulos helps students work towards this light bulb moment by making them more comfortable. She lets them know that making mistakes is an essential part of learning and she drives them to “get involved, in everything. Participate, in everything. Do as much as you can because these opportunities aren’t going to come around again.”
Upgrades being performed on Theatre of the Arts
by Wendy Philpott.
The Department of Drama and Speech Communication is renovating (again!) and will unveil a yet-more improved Theatre of the Arts just in time for Orientation. As outstanding as the Theatre’s 2014 renovations are, two features called for further enhancements.
The first upgrade will enable all types of wheelchairs to easily access the theatre. The accessible seating area was designed for manual wheelchairs and, over the past year, proved difficult for motorized wheelchair access. With advice from the Independent Living Centre for Waterloo Region, this summer’s renovation will create fully accessible seating areas with their own entry doors on both sides of the house, as well as an accessible space in the front row.
The other upgrade is the installation of a new grid system on which stage lights are hung. It will allow students and staff to lower the grid to the stage for changing lights. The previous grid required crew members to hang lights from scaffolding. The new system will speed up the lighting hang and will ensure safety standards for student crew members.
The Department thanks the Dean of Arts Office for funding the renovations; as well as Technical Director Gill Lesperance and Acting Chair Andrew Houston, for their help in moving these projects forward. The Theatre will be closed until September 4.