Taking what we've learned forward into the Spring Term
This is an excerpt of the latest post on President Feridun Hamdullahpur's blog.
I know I am not alone in saying this, but the last month has been a trying one. COVID-19 has challenged everyone in the University of Waterloo community, and around the world, to levels that have never been encountered before. What I have also seen is a community that has pushed forward every step of the way.
The final three weeks and exam period of this Winter Term have been transformed out of necessity for greater needs of public health and safety. The health and wellness of our students, faculty, staff and broader community will always remain our number one priority. At the same time, we have a dedication to keeping the quality of our academic experience strong and moving.
The mass migration to online academics in such a short time and at such a massive scale is akin to driving down the highway at 100km/h and trying to take a right turn without slowing down. I know it was not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but through a lot of hard work and dedication, resulted in a successful end to our academic term.
Lessons learned going remote
With the upcoming Spring Term being done wholly online, it is important to note that this too is unprecedented. Nearly 25 per cent of our students were already taking classes online from all faculties and many programs prior to the pandemic, but this is a full migration of what will be the largest body of students taking classes online in Canada.
This is why we’ve taken a deep look at the past month to assess some of the lessons we’ve learned and can utilize moving forward, from an undergraduate and graduate studies perspective, and also from a teaching and support perspective.
Supporting Waterloo region and beyond during COVID-19
Since the onset of COVID-19, the University of Waterloo has been working with local community partners to help reduce the spread in our communities while ensuring the safety and wellbeing of those in need of support.
In response, the University has created a Community Response Team to co-ordinate how we can quickly and efficiently support requests for assistance. Teams across the University have been working to support local people and organizations that need our help. In time for National Volunteer Week, the University has launched an online resource dedicated to keeping you informed of the ways our researchers, students, staff and alumni are stepping in to support both local and global health challenges.
With this resource you can find information on the work of a few community initiatives and learn more about how you can support those in need including:
- volunteer opportunities
- contact information to share outreach opportunities with the University
- charitable organizations we may individually consider supporting
- stories of the many ways the University community continues to come together to assist those in need
Please continue to check this resource to learn more about how the University continues to work with organizations to support those in need during these challenging times.
The University is currently working with Region of Waterloo Public Health to prioritize how we can best support their need for facilities and volunteers. If you are aware of any community requests, please share via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Archiving your COVID-19 experiences
A message from Special Collections & Archives.
The time we are living in now is quite unprecedented. We are working from home, practicing social distancing, finding new routines to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. Special Collections & Archives (SCA) is interested in collecting the experiences of the Waterloo community, including students, staff, faculty, and alumni.
What does this mean?
- Are you taking photographs of quiet streets that are normally bustling with activity?
- Are you journaling about your experience of working from home?
- Are you a poet and are using this way to document this current way of living?
If you are doing any of these activities, or others, and you would like to explore the possibility of donating your experience to SCA, please connect with Nick Richbell, Head, Special Collections & Archives. He is interested in helping the community document these unusual and challenging times for future scholars to explore and research.
Your submissions will be made available for research and may be exhibited online or in a physical exhibit.
Pantheon selected to host WCMS 3.0 websites
A message from Information Systems & Technology (IST)
In 2019, Information Systems & Technology (IST) issued a request for proposal (RFP) for a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) environment to host the University’s next generation Waterloo Content Management System (WCMS) 3.0 ecosystem.
We are pleased to announce that, earlier this year, the RFP was awarded to Pantheon. Pantheon is one of the largest cloud-based Drupal PaaS hosting providers and has a significant footprint in both Canadian and US Higher Education. As WCMS 3.0 rolls out later this year, all newly created and migrated WCMS 3.0 sites will be hosted on the Pantheon platform and data stored in their Canadian Data Centre.
This Platform-as-a-Service model gives the University the certainty of regular, continuous releases to the underlying technologies that run the WCMS, as well as enhanced Continuous Integration tools that will help IST significantly reduce the time required to publish updates to the WCMS. This new model also gives IST the ability to dynamically scale website performance based on real-time demand, and with Pantheon’s Content Distribution Network, performance of WCMS-hosted sites for international audiences will be significantly enhanced.
More information on this project can be found on the “Building the Next WCMS” website.
Good Buddies of the University for some, miniature University flags for others
"Alice (top), Edna (bottom right), and Maude (bottom left) take a team approach to management," writes Erin Kelly, associate director, WatPD. "They check in several times a day to make sure that I am getting up to stretch, and let me know if we have any visiting animals… er, clients… in the backyard."
"They keep the workspace bug free, provide free breakfast," Kelly continues. "The only time they are strict can be seen in the second photo - each morning they line up and watch me make coffee while they wait for treats."
"Here is Leo!" writes Shannon Chung, immigration consultant in the Student Success Office. "Leo loves to lay next to me waiting patiently for a nice pat on the head."
"Here is our affectionately-named Furrball," writes Robin Stadelbauer, executive officer in the Office of the Vice-President, Advancement. "He’s an easy at home supervisor who switches from napping to watching the birds and squirrels through the window."
"I no longer require an alarm clock," writes Bev Seibel, administrative assistant in the Office of the Deputy Provost. "The warden (aka Snuggles) wakes me up and makes sure I’m at my desk and regularly requests pats, belly rubs and treats (so needy). The boss (aka Smooch) makes sure that I know when it’s time to stop working every day by standing in front of the computer screen and reminding me it’s dinner time. I can’t escape and they’re enjoying this way too much."
"This is Pia making sure that no empty cardboard in my office goes unused," writes Cathy Wessels, senior development officer in the Office of Advancement.
"I've recently made my way home and am happy to see my pup, I think everyone else should get to see her too!" writes John Hunte, a student and WUSA student councillor. "Calli is the voice in the back of my head, or the background of my Teams meetings, reminding me to take a break and exercise (with her of course). Calli is of course a future Waterloo alumnus."