IST announces campus telephone migration proposal
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
- 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.
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
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.
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
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.
Plant Operations provides operational update
A message from Plant Operations.
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 https://uwaterloo.ca/plant-operations/, 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 email@example.com
Warriors unveil Big 6 Summer Challenge and other notes
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, 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:
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.