Wednesday, July 15, 2020

    Brandon Sweet
    University Communications

    IST announces campus telephone migration proposal

    A banner showing phones, tablets and laptops with the message 'Make and receive calls on any connected device.'

    A message from Information Systems & Technology. 

    Information Systems & Technology (IST) is proposing migrating traditional campus telephone desksets to the Skype for Business (S4B) softphone client and eliminating telephone rental charges effective May 1, 2021. Such a change will require campus consultation and a review of financial implications.  

    What does this mean for me?

    Most users would move from a traditional deskset to a S4B softphone, which would allow users to make and receive voice or video calls on an internet-connected device (e.g. desktop, laptop, smartphone, or tablet), from anywhere. 

    • A USB headset is recommended to improve the audio quality. 
    • Departments would be responsible for purchasing headsets, cameras, or other peripherals as needed. Recommended headsets are available for purchase from Print + Retail Solutions.

    Benefits of a softphone

    There are cost savings and enhanced user experience benefits to softphones, including additional features that integrate with computer workstations:

    • online messaging
    • user presence indication
    • video
    • conference calling
    • file and screen sharing
    • voicemail transcription 

    Because softphones can be used on laptop computers and smartphones, they are an excellent resource when working remotely/from home. 

    Additional resources

    Please visit the Campus Telephone Migration project website to learn more about the proposed changes, review the FAQ’s, or to read the full proposal. Updates will be posted on this site as the project progresses. You are invited to submit questions or feedback about this proposal via the project feedback form.

    Interactive learning and student engagement

    Instructors Burcu Karabana and Amanda Garcia.

    Course instructors Burcu Karabina and Amanda Garcia.

    This is another story in a series from the Centre for Teaching Excellence to facilitate cross-institutional sharing of strategies for remote teaching.

    Interactive learning activities and student engagement are key to successful learning experiences. Burcu Karabina and Amanda Garcia integrated these components when developing MATH 237 for Spring 2020. This course, which has a current enrollment of approximately 600, was originally scheduled to go online in Fall 2020, but launched one term early due to the shift to remote teaching necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Interactive Learning Activities 

    Karabina and Garcia used Mobius as a teaching platform for MATH 237. Mobius allows students to practice low-stakes questions before and after assessments. An algorithm generates new variations of the questions each time, so students can practice the content as much as they want. An interactive textbook built into Mobius also enhances course material by means of short videos, narrated slide shows, and interactive GeoGebra applets. “Your Turn” questions embedded in the lessons also help students develop initial understanding of course concepts. Karabina notes that the switch to remote teaching has provided the opportunity to rethink assessment strategies and evaluate how high-stakes versus low-stakes assessments promote and measure student learning. 

    Fostering Engagement through community and support 

    In any course, but especially online, a sense of community and social presence helps students feel more connected to their peers and stay engaged in their learning. At the beginning of the spring term, Math 237 students participated in a community-building exercise: they used Piazza to introduce themselves, ask a question, and reply to a peer’s posting. A “Common Questions” corner on Piazza encouraged students to collaborate and problem-solve with one another on course-related questions.

    Clear communication on expectations and feedback are important skill-builders for students to know what to expect, practice on their own, and build confidence. Students were encouraged to reach out to the Piazza forum for help, which TAs would monitor during the day, then email Karabina for additional guidance or technical help. Karabina says that “learning from mistakes is the best way to learn”; accordingly, when she responds to students emails, she check-ins with them then provides in-depth feedback on next steps before encouraging them to go back and re-solve the problem.

    Looking ahead 

    Moving forward, Karabina and Garcia are eager to involve students in course material review to provide early feedback and address gaps from a learner’s perspective, cultivating a more positive learning experience for all. The resources developed for remote teaching will be useful in future terms to provide students with additional opportunities to practice and check-in on their learning progress.

    Since pivoting to remote teaching, the Math faculty meets bi-weekly to collaborate and share ideas and teaching experiences. Karabina and Garcia believe that this has been an insightful and valuable opportunity to connect with colleagues, and look forward to it continuing when things return to normal.

    Inoculating against misinformation

    Ridhi Patel sits with a laptop featuring her video game.

    By Katharine Tuerke. This is an excerpt of an article originally published on Waterloo Stories.

    COVID-19 overwhelmed health-care systems around the world and left a devastating death toll in its path. The pandemic struck fear and panic in everyone. Knowing very little about the new virus and with no cure, COVID-19 encouraged the rapid spread of misinformation.

    Ridhi Patel, a third-year Honours Science student, noticed the rapid spread of misinformation among her friends and community. She empathized with people who didn’t know where to look for reliable information or just didn’t have the time to keep up with the latest updates as everyone was adjusting to the social, work and lifestyle changes due to COVID-19.

    “Within a few days of coming back home, I had started to realize the panic that the heaps of misinformation had been causing within my own community,” Patel says. “I wanted to contribute to making this situation better in any way I could.”

    A few years earlier, Patel had created a game for her organic chemistry course about the different types of organic compound reactions. The game was well received and helped users learn the material, and as a result, her group won best project that semester.

    As a gamer herself, she thought using a game would be a fun and educational tool for people of all ages to learn about COVID-19 and clarify any misconceptions about it.

    “With the time I now had, I wanted to create a more fun and relaxed approach to educating people on the COVID-19 pandemic and emphasize why it is so important for us to follow the advice offered by public health officers and the likes.”

    She wanted to partner with a faculty member to ensure the information was accurate and for help with the format and wording of questions. Jozef Nissimov, professor of biology and an environmental microbiologist/aquatic virus ecologist, was excited by the idea and immediately jumped on board.

    Patel didn’t have the coding skills to create the game she had envisioned so she found a collaborator to work on the project but unfortunately, they decided to drop the project. So, with her basic coding skills and graphic design experience, she created the graphics, animations, web-app/webpage and contents herself.

    “I am thankful for encountering this challenge, as I learned that passion truly does go a long way and that there is always a way if there is a will,” Patel says.

    By combining her passion and skills with Nissimov’s guidance and mentorship, she developed the game COVID-19 Quarantrivia with Dr. Pixel.

    “We hope to create a safer environment for everyone during this pandemic and to bring people together as one against the disease and not each other.”

    The game highlights, what COVID-19 is, those that can be affected, social distancing practices, factors affecting the spread of infection/disease, hygiene, symptoms and common conspiracy theories.

    Read the rest of the article on Waterloo Stories.

    Plant Operations provides operational update

    A message from Plant Operations.

    The smokestack at Plant Operations' General Services Complex.Plant Operations continues to support our faculty, staff and students during re-entry. A list of current building related services is available on the UWaterloo Plant Ops website at, including items such as status of building services, modified cleaning services, etc.

    Please note that our annual steam shut-down that normally happens in August has been rescheduled to next week (July 20 – 24), which will affect domestic hot water, steam and heating to all buildings withing the ring road, Village 1 and Engineering 5 and 7. 

    When you return to campus, you may notice that drinking water fountains have been disconnected, which was done in response to regulations issued by Public Heath to prevent possible exposure to COVID-19. However, please note that many areas on campus have bottle filling stations which remain accessible and operational.  

    Plant Operations services have been modified to support the changing needs of campus. We kindly ask that you continue to follow the established process for requesting assistance or work:

    • For emergencies, please call the Plant Operations 24 Hr. Emergency line at ext. 33793
    • All non-emergency maintenance and operations items can be submitted by email to

    Warriors unveil Big 6 Summer Challenge and other notes

    The Big 6 Summer Challenge banner.

    Athletics and Recreation has announced the Warriors Big 6 Summer Challenge, a set of weekly challenges from July 13 to August 23 focusing on "Movement, Sleep, Hydration, Nutrition, Apps and Choose your own Adventure." Post your photo and tag @WlooRec on Instagram for a chance to win a $100 box from online food delivery service truLOCAL each week as well as $100 from Mel’s Diner for the grand prize winner. 

    Tommy Mayberry banner image.Tommy Mayberry, manager of outreach and recruitment at St. Jerome's University, is set to be the keynote speaker at the University of Alberta's Online Teaching Institute in August. Mayberry's talk is entitled “Gender Pronouns, Teaching and Learning, and Cultures of Respect.”

    "We’ve all done it. Said the wrong pronoun, used the wrong name, and/or otherwise referred to someone in some sexed/gendered way and immediately wished we could take it back. (And, guess what? We are all going to do it – we’re all human; we all make mistakes.)," says the talk's abstract. "So, how can we as instructors forestall these mistakes in our teaching practices and activate in ourselves an inclusive ideology for gender and sexed identities in our classrooms?"

    Mayberry is an alumnus of St. Jerome's University who worked in the Centre for Teaching Excellence from 2015 to 2018 and is currently completing a PhD in English Language and Literature. The event takes place online on August 6.

    "As your representatives, the University of Waterloo Staff Association continues to advocate your needs to the University's Administration," says a note from UWSA circulated to staff members yesterday. "To better guide these discussions, we asked you to take a COVID Campus Climate Survey from May 22 to 29, 2020 so we could gather the issues that are important to you during this pandemic. We received a total of 738 responses to nine questions." 

    "Today, the UWSA Communications and Membership Committee is pleased to provide preliminary results from this survey."

    "We sincerely thank everyone who participated in this survey," UWSA's note continues. "We continue to work on categorizing the results to the open-text questions. We also plan to run a follow-up survey as conditions on campus change." Your voice starts here.

    Here's what’s coming up online at the Centre for Career Action: 

    • See CCA’s offering of virtual programming online. Students can register on WaterlooWorks

    Centre for Career Action virtual drop-in advising hours for July: 

    • Online résumé, cover letter and interview support, Career consults, and Work search drop-ins running 12:00 to 1:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. PhD student and postdoc drop-ins are running 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.Students can book virtual drop-ins on WaterlooWorks.

    Link of the day

    35 years ago: The Handmaid's Tale

    When and Where to get support

    Students can visit the Student Success Office online for supports including academic development, international student resources, leadership development, exchange and study abroad, and opportunities to get involved.

    Award from GSEF-GSA-GSPA for thesis-based master’s and PhD students who have lost funding because of COVID-19.

    Instructors can visit the Keep Learning website to get support on adapting their teaching and learning plans for an online environment. The following workshops are current offerings from the KL team (CTE, CEL, ITMS, LIB):

    Getting Ready to Facilitate Online Courses: TA Training, beginning July 13.

    Getting Started in LEARN, Wednesday, July 15, 10:00 a.m. 

    Reducing Cheating Online: Examples and TipsWednesday, July 15, 2:00 p.m. 

    Introduction to OER Data & Simulations, Thursday, July 16, 11:00 to 11:30 a.m.

    Fostering Student Engagement Online: Examples and Tips, Thursday, July 16, 2:00 p.m. 

    Beyond the Final Exam, Friday, July 17, 1:30 p.m.

    Employees can access resources to help them work remotely, including managing University records and privacy of personal information

    Interested in learning more about engaging your students in an online course? The Centre for Extended Learning has created a new resource for you called "Fostering Engagement: Facilitating Online Courses in Higher Education"

    This Open Educational Resource was designed for post-secondary instructors and teaching assistants who would like to better understand the critical role of facilitation in online course delivery, and build practical skills and strategies that are relevant, effective, and authentic.

    Here are some tips for staying healthy while working from home.

    The Writing and Communication Centre has gone virtual. We have many online services to help you meet your goals, including: Virtual Pre-booked and Drop-in appointments, Online workshopsVirtual Grad and Faculty Writing CafésInstagram Live Q&A sessionsLive PJ-Friendly Write-insOnline learning resources, and Online programming for Master’s and PhD students. Whatever you’re working on, we’re here to help! Visit our website for more information.

    We understand that these circumstances can be troubling, and you may need to speak with someone for emotional support. Good2Talk is a post-secondary student helpline based in Ontario, Canada that is available to all students.

    If you feel overwhelmed or anxious and need to talk to somebody, please contact the University’s Campus Wellness services, either Health Services or  Counselling Services.

    The Library has published a resource guide on how to avoid information overload.

    The Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo (FAUW) continues to advocate for its members. Check out the FAUW blog for more information.

    The University of Waterloo Staff Association (UWSA) continues to advocate for its members. Check out the UWSA blog for more information.

    WUSA supports for students:

    Food Support Service food hampers are currently available from the Turnkey Desk on weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the Student Life Centre. If you have any questions please email us at

    MATES – Providing general online Peer Support via Skype to undergraduate students. To set up an appointment, please go to:

    Glow Centre - Providing online Peer Support for the LGBTQ2+ community via Skype to Undergraduate students. To set up an appointment, please go to:

    The Women’s Centre – Providing online Peer Support via Skype to undergraduate students. To set up an appointment, please go to:

    RAISE – Providing online Peer Support via Google to undergraduate students. To set up an appointment, please go to:

    The Bike Centre – Now open by appointment for your bicycle repair and rental needs in the Student Life Centre. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please go to:

    Centre for Academic Policy Support - CAPS is here to assist Waterloo undergraduates throughout their experience in navigating academic policy in the instances of filing petitions, grievances and appeals. Please contact them at . More information at

    WUSA Commissioners who can help in a variety of areas that students may be experiencing during this time:

    WUSA Student Legal Protection Program - Seeking legal counsel can be intimidating, especially if it’s your first time facing a legal issue. The legal assistance helpline provides quick access to legal advice in any area of law, including criminal. Just call 1-833-202-4571

    Empower Me is a confidential mental health and wellness service that connects students with qualified counsellors 24/7. They can be reached at 1-844-741-6389.

    When and Where (but mostly when)

    Warriors Coaching Clinics. Every Wednesday from June 3 to July 15. Free online sessions highlighting a wide range of topics featuring Warriors Coaches and staff. Register in advance for the zoom link.

    Healthy Warriors at Home. Free programming including Online Fitness, Personal Training, Health Webinars, Personalized Nutrition and more. Open to students, staff, faculty and alumni. Register today.

    Waterloo Warriors Online Camps. Online youth experiences including basketball, hockey and multi-sport camps for a variety of ages. Starting at $48.00/week. Register today.

    Warriors Big 6 Summer ChallengeWeekly challenges from July 13-August 23 focusing on Movement, Sleep, Hydration, Nutrition, Apps and Choose your own adventure.  Post your photo and tag @WlooRec on Instagram for a chance to win a $100 box from truLOCAL each week as well as $100 from Mel’s Diner for our grand prize winner. Stay healthy Warriors!

    QPR Mental Health Training for Faculty and Staff, Wednesday, July 15, 9:30 a.m., Microsoft Teams – Register on GoSignMeUp.

    Science Innovation Hub Guest Lecture: Effective Scientific Communication with Betty Zou, Wednesday July 15, 10:00 a.m. 

    Concept $5K Semi-Finals: Night 2, Wednesday, July 15, 5:00 p.m.

    Indigenous Perspectives in STEM with Dr. Veselin Jungic, Thursday, July 16, 1:00 p.m.

    De-escalating Difficult Student Situations for Faculty and Staff, Thursday, July 16, 1:30 p.m., Microsoft Teams – Register on  GoSignMeUp.

    Grammar studio III: Clarity at the sentence level, Thursday, July 16, 2:00 p.m., Live Q & A on LEARN.

    Healthy Minds, Creative Concepts: All About Sleep, Thursday, July 16, 4:00 p.m., Virtual Event.

    NEW - IT Seminar: Service Desk and Jira, Friday, July 17, 9:00 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. Join online.

    INI202: You Don't Know What You Don't Know Part II, the second part of a two-part workshop where campus community members gain a deeper understanding of historic and current realities for First Nations, Métis and Inuit people in Ontario and Canada, Friday, July 17, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    Clarity in scientific writingMonday, July 20, 2020, 1:00 p.m., Live Q & A on LEARN.

    Positions available

    On this week's list from the human resources department, viewable on the UWaterloo Talent Acquisition System (iCIMS):

    • Job ID# 2020-5363 - Associate Director, International Operations - Waterloo International, USG 13

    Internal secondment opportunities:

    • Job ID# 2020-5414 - Undergraduate Advisor & Coordinator - Mechanical & Mechatronics Eng., USG 6