Friday, July 17, 2020

New details emerge on Orientation this fall

Waterloo Orientation banner.

Associate Provost, Students Chris Read and the Orientation Steering Committee have issued an update on Fall 2020 Orientation planning and activities.

"With the launch of the Waterloo Ready program, our students are accessing a wide range of resources and have many opportunities for engagement with their classmates and peer mentors. Orientation will build on this foundation and help our students to feel a sense of belonging even when engaging with us virtually," Read wrote in a memo distributed to employees this morning. "As a complement to our pre-arrival Waterloo Ready programming, First Year Orientation, including specific international student programming, has been adjusted to begin earlier than normal and will take place from September 1st-7th, the week before classes start. This date shift ensures Orientation programming does not compete with other priorities and demands students will experience during the first week of classes and getting set up in their online courses."

Content and programming for Orientation will be released sequentially and delivered through pre-recorded videos, live chats and virtual events, and online forums. Programming will focus on connecting students with their future classmates, sharing the unique traditions of the faculties, and sharing more about student life at Waterloo. This will include traditional programming such as Warrior Welcome, Dear First Year Me and the International Student Welcome.

"This year, the Waterloo Grad Ready program has been created for incoming graduate students and will replace the traditional campus-wide graduate orientation program," Read writes. "To learn more about Waterloo Grad Ready, and see recommendations for faculty and department-based programming, review the Graduate Studies Resources website, designed specifically for our faculty and staff."

"Though our orientation programming will be different this year, we remain committed to ensuring all new students feel welcomed to our Waterloo community. Please know there is a dedicated team of students, staff and faculty, including the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association and the Graduate Student Association, who are working together to welcome our students and ensure they feel a part of the Waterloo family virtually as much as they do when we welcome them in person," Read writes.

As First Year Orientation details evolve, they will be available on the Orientation website.

Ask an online learning expert: What strategies will make my course more accessible?

By Katelin Hamilton, Senior Online Learning Assistant. This is part of an ongoing series in the Daily Bulletin.

While our previous article “What do I need to know about accessibility?” identified accessibility requirements and why accessibility benefits all students, it’s important to note that accessibility means more than meeting our legal obligation to accommodate students with disabilities.  As explained by the University of Minnesota, “eliminating barriers for an individual upon request (accommodation) is good and important. Better is creating an inclusive environment for all (accessibility).” 

Christine Zaza from the Centre for Extended Learning recommends following principles of universal design when creating all aspects of your course (including teaching materials, assignments, assessments, and learning activities) to increase accessibility and improve the learning experience for all students.  Start with these three general principles of universal design.  

Flexibility allows for students to take their own needs into consideration when completing course tasks. For example, rather than having rigid due dates with harsh late penalties, provide ‘slip days’, which allow students to submit assignments late without any penalty, where feasible. This is particularly important during our current pandemic where there is added stress and great uncertainty.  By being flexible, you communicate a caring concern for your students’ well-being. Start by identifying where you can be flexible, and where flexibility is not possible.  

Reduce Unnecessary Effort so students can focus their energy on understanding key course concepts. For example, providing practice questions helps students know what to expect on assessments. Posting thorough assignment instructions and marking guides also eliminates unnecessary effort as students know what is expected of them. It can be very helpful to ask a colleague or your Online Learning Assistant (OLA or SOLA) to read over your draft assignment instructions and provide feedback. You can also send it to to have a member of the Keep Learning team review it for clarity.

Variety, both in terms of teaching methods (e.g., readings, videos, slides, text, images, figures, simulations) and assessment methods (e.g., multiple choice questions, written answers, presentation, reflection, discussion), allows students to learn and present their knowledge in ways that best suit their needs and strengths.  Using a variety of strategies to motivate students is also beneficial. While some students may be reassured knowing that you care about their well-being, others may prefer practical ways to gauge their progress like ungraded self-assessments

While all these principles of universal design benefit students with disabilities, they also help all students feel comfortable and supported in their learning. For more information on universal design, check out the Teaching Tip Sheets on Universal Design in Course Design and Universal Design in Instructional Strategies created by the Centre for Teaching Excellence.

Virtual event sought to create a real sense of belonging

An illustration showing a number of people engaged in wellness.

by Maddie Nichols, Campus Wellness co-op student.

On June 23, the Wellness Collaborative hosted a virtual university-wide event to increase understanding of the importance of sense of belonging for wellbeing and academic success, while identifying meaningful actions for creating a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all.   

We heard belonging stories from UWaterloo’s president and vice-chancellor, Feridun Hamdullahpur, alongside students, faculty, and staff. Jennifer McCorriston, chair of the Wellness Collaborative, revealed the proposed wellness priorities for the University of Waterloo, which include: Institutional Commitment for Wellness at all Levels; Mental Wellness; Sense of Belonging; Supportive Environments for Active Living and Healthy Eating; and Spiritual Wellness.

Participants heard from Dr. Christine Logel about her research on sense of belonging among post-secondary students. Specifically, Dr. Logel’s research focuses on creating inclusive and caring campus communities by addressing barriers to belonging that many minority groups face in post-secondary education. Logel highlighted the idea of creating bright spots: opportunities on campus that foster equity and sense of belonging. We can all contribute to creating these bright spots at UWaterloo, and Logel outlined four ways in which we can do so:

  1. Check in with others

Sometimes, something as simple as a check-in email has the power to initiate a snowball effect, creating a community that actively pursues stronger sense of belonging in many different ways. Why not connect with a student, colleague or peer to see how they’re doing?

  1. Show others that you see them as a whole person

There is always something you can do show that you care for each individual in your life, whether they be a colleague, student, peer, or friend. One way to do this is by recognizing that others have their own responsibilities and obstacles that they face daily, and acknowledging these can go a long way in fostering a stronger sense of belonging.

  1. Normalize struggling

It’s important to share the message that struggling does not mean you don’t belong. In fact, struggling with feelings of not belonging is very common. Work towards normalizing shared experiences that deal with these feelings, and talk openly about mental health with others.

  1. Connect others to resources

Being able to help an individual connect with supportive resources is one of the most impactful things you can do for someone. A minute of support to help a student, peer or colleague connect with a resources could make the difference between accessing or avoiding resources.

Thinking to the future, it is crucial that we continue to consider how we can embed wellness and belonging into all of our operations at UWaterloo; something that cannot be done unless we continue to support and honour others in their own sense of belonging stories.
To learn more about how you can act on these opportunities to foster belonging, visit the website to access resources from the event and sign up for the Wellness Collaborative newsletter.
What is one thing you are going to do to foster sense of belonging among your colleagues, students, peers, or friends today?

Campus lets off steam and other notes

This is a reminder that Plant Operations will be going ahead with the annual campus steam system shutdown next week. From Monday, July 20 to Friday, July 24 at noon, all buildings within Ring Road, as well as Village 1 and Engineering 5 and 7, will be without domestic hot water, heating, and steam services as maintenance to the campus steam mains is carried out.

This annual shutdown usually happens in August, but Plant Operations has moved the date up in order to lessen the disruption as campus prepares to welcome students back to campus in September.

Today, Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion will be hosting 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. The online session runs from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. today.

Beyond the Bulletin Podcast Episode 52

Beyond the Bulletin banner image with two vintage microphones.

The latest episode of the Beyond the Bulletin Podcast is now liveThe pandemic has reduced our energy consumption, and Juan Moreno-Cruz, a professor in the School of Environment, Enterprise and Development, tells us what it means for the planet. More researchers will return to campus in Phase 2 of the research restart plan. Eight Waterloo students win prestigious Vanier scholarships. And your desk phone’s days may be numbered.

Link of the day

Radio host Don Jackson, of Lovers and Other Strangers fame, has died

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.

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. You can also contact the University's Centre for Mental Health Research and Treatment.

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 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 truLOCAL each week as well as $100 from Mel’s Diner for our grand prize winner. Stay healthy Warriors!

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.

AHS Live Chat, Tuesday, July 21, 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Akindi Live Training (Webinar), Wednesday, July 22, from 1:00 p.m. to 1:45 p.m.

Say it in your own words: Paraphrase & summary for graduate students, Thursday, July 23, 9:00 a.m., Live Q & A on LEARN.

New Faculty Online Social, Wednesday, July 23, 2:30 p.m.