Mathematics launches online budgeting platform
In 2018 the Faculty of Mathematics (Math) identified a need to improve their budget process. After reviewing different options, Math selected the Vena Financial Planning & Analysis cloud-based software platform to deliver a streamlined system to support annual budgeting and reporting.
Vena integrates data from various campus systems, including Human Resources’ (HR) Workday, Finance’s Unit 4 and The Registrar’s Office and Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affair’s (GSPA) Quest. “This is the most comprehensive initiative to get data from various source systems into the direct hands of decision makers,” according to Daryl Dore, Director Enterprise Systems, Information Systems & Technology (IST). “To support the data requirements of the Vena solution, the data stewards for Quest, Workday and Unit4 data worked together to create a data-sharing agreement to ensure data confidentiality and integrity.”
Vena also includes a teaching module, which supports provisional teaching assignments three years in advance, provides a way to record past teaching activity and view budgeting estimates, and assists in future resource planning. Steve Furino, undergraduate studies | assistant director, online studies, was a member of the project team. According to Steve, “To see an accurate history of past teaching, a present teaching assignment that fits with the budget, and a flexible view of the future is a wonderful thing.”
The project team consisted of representatives from Math, IST, Registrar’s Office, GSPA, HR and Finance. Working together, the team delivered a solution that enables Math to base budget projections on more granular data provided directly by source systems. Kevin Hare, interim Dean of Math, reported, “Using Vena will simplify the overall budget process and provide richer, more reliable data to support decision-making.”
Math was excited to officially launch Vena on June 26, 2020.
Ask an online learning expert: "What do I need to know about accessibility?"
By Katelin Hamilton, Senior Online Learning Assistant. This is part of an ongoing series in the Daily Bulletin on online learning.
Creating an accessible online course means providing course materials, assessments, and learning tools in a format that all students can access without requesting academic accommodations.
The University has a legal obligation to accommodate students with disabilities. Accessibility requirements for your course depend on how it is accessed and the unique needs of the individual students. Because all LEARN courses are password protected, accessibility needs of students with a disability are met through formal accommodations arranged through AccessAbility Services. Courses hosted on open (public) sites must meet the accessibility guidelines outlined in WCAG 2.0 AA.
Benefits of Accessibility
By removing barriers for students with disabilities, you improve the learning experience for many other students as well. For example, video captions don’t just accommodate students who are hard of hearing, they can greatly assist students who are still mastering the English language, students who are unfamiliar with the topic, as well as students who process information better by reading it, rather than hearing it. Christine Zaza from the Centre for Extended Learning (CEL) explains, “When a course is accessible, students can focus their effort on learning course content rather than on accessing content in a way they can use it. There is no such thing as an average learner, so when you remove barriers for students with disabilities you increase access for as many learners as possible.”
Start with Small Changes
Starting with even a small change can have a large impact on student experience. You can start with one or more of the following strategies:
- Make your course easy to navigate. Use a clear, simple and consistent structure, like creating separate LEARN modules for each week of the term. The Templates for Remote Teaching provide sample pages you can adapt for your course needs.
- Use meaningful hyperlinks that describe the destination of the link instead of using the URL (e.g. rather than providing https://uwaterloo.ca/centre-for-teaching-excellence/resources/accessibility-teaching-0 or Click Here, provide Accessibility in Teaching, CTE, University of Waterloo)
- Use Style elements (like headings) to organize and structure your documents and LEARN pages. This makes the flow of the document clearer and organizes information for students using screen readers.
For more ways to make your course accessible, check out the Accessibility Checklists and other resources on Accessibility in Teaching, developed by the Centre for Teaching Excellence, Accessibility Standards developed by the Centre for Extended Learning, and the Accessibility page on the Keep Learning website. The Centre for Teaching Excellence is also hosting an event today (July 7) entitled “Teaching More Accessibly: Five easy improvements to our practice.” You can also connect with an expert from CEL or CTE by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Waterloo Residences provides update on new policies and procedures
A message from Waterloo Residences.
Waterloo Residences is committed to upholding our reputation as the most supportive housing option in Waterloo for students. In an ongoing effort to respond to students’ needs in uncertain times, we recently amended some of our financial terms and conditions. Students now have more flexibility when making decisions and plans for the fall.
- All upper-year and graduate students have until July 31 to request a refund of their residence fees. This includes their $500 deposit, if applicable.
- Any student with a study permit will be provided additional flexibility when finalizing their plans for fall 2020.*
- While our Residence Life and Facilities teams are working hard to ensure everyone will still feel supported, connected and safe while living on campus, we recognize that the current living environment we offer may turn out to be challenging for some. For that reason, residents will be released from financial responsibility for their contract if they decide living on campus isn’t for them after moving in. There is a cancellation process to receive a prorated refund of the length of time left on the contract.*
* Details about the cancellation process can be found on our website: https://uwaterloo.ca/housing/fall-2020-information
It’s time to Get Ready..
..For Residence. On Wednesday, July 15 from 5:00 until 6:00 p.m. the Housing team will be hosting the Get Ready for Residence Webinar. This will give us a chance to let students know more about:
- How we’re updating our spaces and adjusting our cleaning procedures to ensure the safest environment possible for students;
- How we’ve adapted Residence Life programming to be safe, supportive, and impactful;
- What being a student staff looks like during the pandemic; and
- What move in will look like including key dates and safety procedures.
Students can sign up here.
Rebooting with research: our virtual future
By Janet Janes. This is an excerpt of an article originally published in Waterloo Stories.
COVID-19 has had an immense impact on the way people interact and connect with each other, particularly through work. It’s likely the current normal of virtual workplaces will continue to evolve after the pandemic ends.
“The future is really going to change,” Andrea Kerswill said, director at Innovation & Scotiabank FactoryU, Scotiabank. “It’s going to change, in fact, for the better. Instead of the office as a place that you go to for everything, it’s going to be the place that you go to for some things — meeting with customers, socializing, collaboration and creativity.”
Kerswill was speaking at Rebooting with Research: Our virtual future, the final of six panels in The Post-COVID-19 Reboot, hosted by the Gateway for Enterprises to Discover Innovation (GEDI) at the University of Waterloo.
“I think we’re really going to have to be focused and intentional about our time. I know that we’re like that now, but it’s going to change. When we plan a meeting, we need to need to think about who needs to be there, why and how, and what the outcome of the meeting is meant to be.”
When the crux of the pandemic struck in March, many Canadians working in a traditional office or other workplace quickly pivoted to working from home in an urgent approach to flatten the curve, which required traditional meetings and other human connections to move online.
“I think everything is going to be driven by that human connection. It’s going to be really focused on tools, software and rules,” Kerswill said.
Those rules and tools include clarity on working agreements, flexible and overlapping hours, along with an understanding of when to use instant messing, phone calls or online communication.
While the COVID-19 crisis has been the impetus for this growth in the use of virtual connections, challenges are bound to arise.
Ray Simonson, co-founder and chief executive officer of Glove Systems, expects that operating business in the future will require a hybrid approach. Personal contact is a key element of sales and convincing customers to buy from a new supplier they haven’t met — this could be challenging.
“I think the challenge we will need to solve is getting people to meet each other and talk to each other when they see each other very rarely or never,” Simonson said.
One online area that has increased due to the pandemic is grocery shopping.
Jim Wallace, professor in the School of Public Health and Health Systems, wonders how filling a virtual shopping cart versus a physical cart where shoppers can see the ratio of fruits and vegetables to junk food, will easily affect a person’s overall health. Reading labels can be challenging in the store but more challenging online.
“I think there’s a lot of research there and a lot of questions about what this means for our long-term well-being,” he said.