Thursday, April 20, 2017

Winners of inaugural Online Teaching and Design Awards named

The Centre for Extended Learning (CEL) in conjunction with Associate Vice President, Academic Mario Coniglio are pleased to announce the recipients of the University of Waterloo’s inaugural Online Teaching and Design Awards: Professor Edwin Ng and Professor Doug Cowan.

Online Teaching Award Winner- Professor Edwin Ng

Professor Edwin Ng.Edwin Ng (Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, Renison University College) was nominated for the Online Teaching Award based on his teaching of SWK 605R: Knowledge Mobilization and Evidence-Based Practice, SWK 601R: Health Policy, and SWK 609R: Social Work Practice in Mental Health, part of the online Master of Social Work program at Waterloo, which is unique in Canada.

“Whenever I think about it – reading the student comments, winning this award, I’m just really humbled by everything," says Professor Ng. "I’m very grateful and appreciative for the opportunity to even facilitate students’ learning. It’s a privilege and I’m really thankful.”

When discussing what Ng finds the most rewarding about teaching online, he said, “I appreciate the students so much. I really do believe that if I know them better, as people, as professionals, and as students, I’m in a much better position to help them meet their learning needs.” Ng is always trying to empathize with his students and create a learning environment in which they can thrive and succeed.

Ng’s online teaching philosophy is simple but effective: be present online to show students that you care, set high and clear expectations to motivate students to succeed, and be authentic. This approach resonates with his students, who commented overwhelmingly that Ng shows a genuine interest in them and continuously puts in effort to make connections with his students and offer them support.

Online Course Design Award Winner – Professor Doug Cowan

Professor Doug Cowan on a motorcycle.​The Online Course Design award goes to Doug Cowan, Professor of Religious Studies and Social Development Studies for his authorship of RS 270R: Religion and Popular Film, developed with CEL support. The course is cross-listed as Fine Arts 252.

“It’s nice to know that you’ve done something that works for people," says Cowan. "The reason that I teach is so that students can take something valuable away from their experience in the classroom. Finding out about the award, means that, at least in this little corner of my universe, I was successful in doing that.”

Cowan’s design of RS 270R/FINE 252 included a thoughtful emphasis on providing opportunities for peer-to-peer learning, interaction among students, instructor presence, and effective feedback. Overall, Cowan’s main goal is to “give students critical and analytical tools, so that they can go out and live their lives.” In other words, Cowan wants to give students a tool kit that will help them think critically, no matter what context they’re in.

Students who nominated RS 270R/FINE 252 for the Online Course Design award found the online lectures visually appealing and enjoyed the interaction that the online discussions offered. The course also benefited from Cowan’s passionate delivery of course content, as well as his active engagement in his students’ learning.

"Congratulations to both of these talented instructors who have demonstrated a strong commitment to high quality online teaching and learning at Waterloo!" says a statement from the CEL.

The Online Teaching and Design Awards are given out annually. In addition to a Certificate of Recognition, each recipient will receive a monetary prize of $1000, sponsored by the Office of the Associate Vice-President, Academic. Students, teaching assistants, faculty, instructors, chairs, and deans are all eligible to nominate any fully online course for the Online Course Design Award. For the Online Teaching Award, students are encouraged to nominate their online instructor at the end of each term in a course announcement.

Campus forest receives seed funding

TD Friends of the Environment representatives give an oversized cheque to the Faculty of Environment.

This is an excerpt of an article originally published on the Faculty of Environment news site.

Thanks to a generous donation from the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation (TD FEF), plans are taking root to turn a 5-hectare urban forest on the west side of the University of Waterloo campus into a living laboratory and vibrant community asset.

The UW Urban Forest is located south of Village 1 and west of the Health Services building. Home to a variety of habitats, including a marshy wetland and upland deciduous forest, it is the largest remaining wooded green space on campus and thought to be one of the oldest in the area. According to Associate Professor Michael Drescher, an expert in ecological conservation and project co-lead, historical aerial photography reveals the woodlot was already home to mature trees in the 1930s. “Considering how long it takes for trees to mature,” he concludes, “some of these trees might be up to 150 years old.”

The forest is not only a heritage resource but also an important habitat for rare and endangered species. Last spring a Faculty of Environment student and local bird expert spotted a prothonotary warbler in the forest, a rare bird that hasn’t been seen in the region for 20 years. And while the bird didn’t breed in the forest, Drescher says the citing underscores the importance of the natural area as a resting and foraging spot for birds on their way to their breeding habitat. 

Read the full story on the Faculty of Environment website.

Thursday's notes

AETS recipients pose with Associate Provost, Graduate Studies Jeff Casello.

Alex Huynh (AETS recipient), Mohammed Nassar (AETS recipient), Jeff Casello (AETS committee chair), Lay Ling Tan (AETS recipient), Houman Mehrabian (AETS recipient).

On Tuesday, April 18, Amit and Meena Chakma Awards for Exceptional Teaching by a Student (AETS) committee chair Jeff Casello hosted a recognition luncheon at the University Club for the 2017 AETS recipients and committee members.

On Friday, April 21, the Sustainability Office invites members of the campus community to join the City of Waterloo’s annual 20-Minute Makeover to help tidy up our campus and surrounding community. Please register on the event page, either as an individual or as a group by teaming up with other members of your office. All supplies will be provided.

Do you want to learn Spanish and make new friends? Come and “Conversemos en español” (Let’s chat in Spanish). All language levels welcome. Under the direction of a Spanish teacher, you will have the opportunity to practice spoken Spanish with each other.

The classes take place on Mondays from April 24 to June 19 in the Community Room at the John M. Harper Branch of the Waterloo Public Library from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

For more information, please email Regina Vera-Quinn at or call ext. 33683.

There will be two new brand training presentations on May 25 and May 30. 

Each session segment will include recent examples of design work to show the visual expression guidelines in application.

Link of the day

Because it's 4/20

When and where

Sustainable Campus Photo Contest, Monday, March 20 – Friday, April 21, across campus.

Green Office Energy Challenge, Thursday, March 30 to Friday, April 21, across campus.

NEW - Time Management & Writing Strategies for your Thesis, Thursday, April 20, 12:30 p.m.

Earth Day, Saturday, April 22.

Deadline for students to get "Fees Arranged," Monday, April 24.

Vision Science Graduate Research Conference 2017, Monday, April 24, all day, Optometry Room 1129.

Examination period ends, Tuesday, April 25.

Governor General book launch event, Tuesday, April 25, 8:30 a.m., Sedra Student Design Centre, Engineering 5.

The Library presents "Why Open Educational Resources (OER) are essential for online learning," Tuesday, April 25, 10:00 a.m.

Pharmacy Research Day, showcasing graduate student research, Wednesday, April 26, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., School of Pharmacy.

NEW - QPR Training, Wednesday, April 26, 10:30 a.m., Counselling Services, Needles Hall.

Staff Appreciation Lunch, Wednesday, April 26 to Friday, April 28, 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., University Club.

NEW - W3 Knitting Circle, Wednesday, April 26, 4:00 p.m., Grad House.

Annual Teaching and Learning Conference, "Cultivating Curiosity in Teaching and Learning," Thursday, April 27, Science Teaching Complex.

David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science Distinguished Lecture Series, “Data, predictions and decisions in support of people and society,” Thursday, April 27, 3:30 p.m., DC 1302.

Annual Meeting of the Eastern International Region of the American Academy of Religion, Friday, April 28 and Saturday, April 29, Renison University College.

President's Community Breakfast, Friday, April 28, 7:30 a.m., THEMUSEUM.

David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science Distinguished Lecture Series, “The one hundred year study on artificial intelligence: an enduring study on AI and its influence on people and society,” Friday, April 28, 10:30 a.m., DC 1302.

Co-op work term begins, Monday, May 1.

Lectures begin, Monday, May 1.

NEW - Asana presents "Choosing Your First Startup," Wednesday, May 3, 5:00 p.m., TC 2218.

Data-Driven Learning: Can and Should Language Learners Become Corpus Linguists? Friday, May 5, 4:00 p.m., ML 245.

Feds Welcome Week, Monday, May 8 to Friday, May 12.

NEW - Design and Deliver I - Presentation Essentials, Tuesday, May 9, 1:00 p.m.

Campus Life Fair, Wednesday, May 10, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Student Life Centre Great Hall.

EQUALS conference, Thursday, May 11 and Friday, May 12.

Clubs and Societies Day, Thursday, May 11, 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Student Life Centre Great Hall.

NEW - Design and deliver II: Creating assertion-evidence presentations, Thursday, May 11, 1:00 p.m.

NEW - David Sprott Distinguished Lecture featuring Professor Peter Diggle, "A Tale of Two Parasites: how can Gaussian processes contribute to improved public health in Africa," Thursday May 11, 4:00 p.m., STC 0050.

Clubs and Societies Day, Friday, May 12, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Student Life Centre Great Hall.

Staff International Experience Fund application deadline, Monday, May 15.

Living on the Precipice: Interdisciplinary Conference on Resilience in Complex Natural and Human Systems, Tuesday, May 16 and Wednesday, May 17, St. Jerome's University Conference Centre.

Discovering Digital Media Day - Internet of Things (IoT) 101, Tuesday, May 16, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Stratford Campus.

NEW - Ramadan and Health: a community approach, Tuesday, May 16, 7:00 p.m., School of Pharmacy.

NEW - CPA Ontario Networking for Success, Thursday, May 18, 6:00 p.m., Fed Hall.

Understanding our brand, Thursday, May 25, 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., EC5 1111.

Working with our brand guidelines, Tuesday, May 30, 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

PhD oral defences

Mechanical & Mechatronics Engineering. Qiulan Zeng, "Numerical Schemes for 1D Two-Phase Flow." Supervisors, Fue-Sang Lien, Nusret Aydemir. On deposit in the Engineering graduate office, DWE 3520C. Oral defence Tuesday, May 2, 10:00 a.m., ERC 3012.

Mechanical & Mechatronics Engineering. Badr Bedairi, "Fatigue Analysis of Welded Joints Using Local Reference Stress." Supervisor, Gregory Glinka. On deposit in the Engineering graduate office, DWE 3520C. Oral defence Tuesday, May 2, 11:30 a.m., E5 3006.

Psychology. Srdan Medimorec, "On the Effects of Disfluency in Complex Cognitive Tasks." Supervisor, Evan Risko. On deposit in the Arts graduate office, PAS 2428. Oral defence Wednesday, May 3, 10:00 a.m., PAS 3026.

Statistics and Actuarial Science. Daniel Severn, "Assessing Binary Measurement Systems Using Targeted Verification with a Gold Standard." Supervisor, Stefan Steiner. Thesis available from MGO - Oral defence Thursday, May 4, 9:00 a.m., M3 3001.

Psychology. Tracy Mewhort-Buist, "The Importance of Verbal Irony Comprehension in Effective Social Interaction." Supervisor, Eilzabeth Nilsen. On deposit in the Arts graduate office, PAS 2428. Oral defence Thursday, May 4, 10:00 a.m., PAS 3026.