Friday, March 17, 2023

IST releases summary of Learning Management System survey and consultation session findings

A message from Information Systems and Technology (IST).

As announced in September 2022, the pending contract end date (October 2023) for the University’s current learning management system (LMS) D2L Brightspace (LEARN) provided an opportune time to conduct a thorough review of the environment to better understand how the LMS may or may not be meeting the needs and expectations of our campus community. 

An extensive review of the D2L Brightspace (LEARN) platform was conducted between April 2022 and January 2023 that included an external review of the LMS market and trends; consultations with peer institutions; and internally, a campus-wide survey and consultation sessions with University faculty, students, and staff. 

Summary of findings

The survey received approximately 2,200 responses, and 27 consultation sessions were held with 190 participants. The project team was very pleased with the level of participation and data gathered, with representation from faculty, staff, undergraduate students, and graduate students from our academic support units and all our faculties. The team is currently analyzing this feedback and will deliver a high-level summary of findings in the coming months. Early findings indicate the LMS of the future should be the digital centre of course delivery, protect privacy and security, be accessible, be fast and responsive, provide access to data and metrics, support mobile, and support live video.  Early findings also indicate that areas of improvement are related to issues within Brightspace (LEARN) functionality, Waterloo’s configuration of Brightspace (LEARN), Waterloo’s processes/procedures, and training/knowledge gaps.

Project deliverables

Project findings, based on the campus-wide survey and consultations, market research, IT Review findings, Digital Learning Strategy findings, and goals/strategies outlined in the University’s Strategic Plan will be summarized in two final reports: the LMS Review Recommendation report and the LMS Survey & Consultation Summary report.  These reports will inform a recommendation for moving forward with Waterloo’s LMS environment, including an approach to licensing and resources to support a transition, should the University change LMS vendors. The project team is aiming to make these reports available to campus during the spring 2023 term. Additional information will be communicated as this work progresses. 

Learn more about the LMS Review project

Employees tend to avoid taking breaks despite high levels of stress, study says

A man sits with his feet up and hands behind head turned around from his desk, staring out the window.

Heavy workloads make employees feel a greater need for a break, but new research finds they may actually discourage employees from taking breaks at work despite causing high levels of stress, fatigue, and poor performance.

Researchers from the University of Waterloo found employees often kept working despite wanting to pause. One potential reason is employees may have felt pressure to continue working to get everything done on time. 

“Our research provides a comprehensive account of the processes involved in the decision to take a break and provides insights into how employees and managers can make more effective use of breaks at work, potentially improving both well-being and performance,” said James Beck, professor of industrial and organizational psychology at Waterloo. 

To conduct the study, researchers asked 107 employees about their reasons for taking a break and not taking one. They then surveyed another 287 employees twice daily over five days about their sleep quality, fatigue, performance concerns, workload, and the number of breaks they take each day. 

The researchers also found that although previous research has shown that breaks can benefit employee well-being and performance, they may resist taking breaks if they feel supervisors discourage breaks in their workplace. Although there may be a misconception that breaks are unproductive, Phan notes that many employees take breaks because they are committed to staying focused and maintaining high levels of performance.

“We recognize that it may not always be possible for employees to take more breaks, but if employers can promote employee well-being by addressing the conditions that can make work unpleasant, they may be able to reduce the number of breaks needed,” said Dr. Vincent Phan, first author of the study, which he led as part of his doctoral thesis in industrial and organizational psychology at Waterloo.

The researchers hope that their findings will aid in promoting employee well-being and that future research will explore broader structural and contextual factors that influence break-taking.

The paper, Why Do People (Not) Take Breaks? An Investigation of Individuals’ Reasons for Taking and for Not Taking Breaks at Work, appears in the Journal of Business and Psychology.

Delegation preparing for UN 2023 Water Conference in New York

UN Water Conference banner image.

A message from the Water Institute.

A delegation from the Water Institute at the University of Waterloo, headed by Roy Brouwer, Executive Director of the Water Institute, is preparing for the UN 2023 Water Conference taking place at UN Headquarters in New York, 22-24 March.

This is the first United Nations Water Conference of its kind in 46 years, the last being held at Mar del Plata, Argentina, in March of 1977.

Co-hosted by the governments of the Netherlands and Tajikistan, the conference aims to accelerate progress towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals related to water and will focus on five themes: Water for Health; Water for Sustainable Development; Water for Climate, Resilience and Environment and Water for Cooperation and Water Action Decade. 

“The 2023 conference provides a rare opportunity that I expect will be a “watershed moment” in water policy and action. Advancing SDG 6 advances the 16 other SDGs—in a changing climate, this is more important than ever. Canadians, including our team from the University of Waterloo, will be working with colleagues globally to innovate and advance upon that goal,” said Monica Emelko, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Water Science, Technology & Policy, University of Waterloo and part of the Water Institute conference delegation.

The conference is expected to adopt the Water Action Agenda representing voluntary commitments on action and implementation from countries and stakeholders to meet global water-related targets, along with a roadmap for the second half of the 2018-2028 Water Decade.

The Water Institute delegation of faculty and graduate students which was granted special accreditation by the General Assembly, will represent the University in participating in this generational conference and share their expert knowledge towards achieving SDG 6 - ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

Read the rest of the article to learn more about the delegation's members

Portia's Julius Caesar on stage this month

A woman stares defiantly.

The Theatre and Performance program presents Portia’s Julius Caesar by Kaitlyn Riordan in Theatre of the Arts, March 22 – 25. Co-directed by Drs. Sorouja Moll and Andy Houston and performed by students, the play is a radical adaption of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and focuses on the voices and perspectives of its female characters.

The play follows the stories of Portia and Calpurnia, two powerful women married to Rome's most influential men, Brutus and Caesar. While Calpurnia makes sacrifices to the gods to conceive for the first time, Portia is battling to understand her experience as a mother within a politically influential family.

Portia’s Julius Caesar is a provocative work of theatre that explores historical as well as contemporary ideas of fertility, female empowerment, and familial ties alongside the historical reality of political uprisings. The play delves into familiar dramatical themes as it is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, but it juxtaposes the essence of the original text with all that has happened in the world since 1599, when Shakespeare adapted this story from 44 B.C.

Doors will open 30 minutes prior to each performance so audience members can spend time in the theatre gallery to immerse themselves in a thematic display that extends the world of the play to the world right in front of us.

Portia’s Julius Caesar runs March 22, 23, 24, and 25 at 7:30 p.m. and March 24 at 2:00 p.m., in Theatre of the Arts, ML building. Buy tickets and learn more about the production.

Universal Design for Learning and Wellbeing Community of Practice meeting coming up

An illustration of people wearing University of Waterloo branded clothing engaged in wellbeing activities.

A message from the Universal Design for Learning and Wellbeing Community of Practice.

The Wellness Collaborative, Centre for Teaching Excellence, Centre for Extended Learning, Student Success Office, AccessAbility Services, Writing and Communication Centre, and fellow instructors have partnered up to critically look at how Universal Design for Learning (UDL) can (and cannot) support holistic wellbeing in the learning environment. We invite you, instructors and others who support the learning environment, to join us in a Community of Practice (CoP).

We are excited to announce that our next Community of Practice meeting, Centering Student Voices takes place on Monday March 20 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

In this CoP session we will focus on student experiences of UDL instructional techniques.  A panel of students will share their personal reflections on experiences with various UDL techniques that they have been exposed to in learning environments, as well as tools they have used in their own teaching and mentoring.  Discussion will include a focus on how UDL techniques can impact student wellness.  For more details about each session, see our website. 

The CoP will be hosted virtually through Microsoft Teams and members can access resources and support asynchronously.  

To get involved in the CoP and attend this upcoming session, please complete this brief Qualtrics survey.  

Please note that you do not need to attend all the sessions to join the CoP, as our aim is to make this CoP accessible for all who are interested. We look forward to connecting with you.

Friday's notes

The WUSA General Meeting is set for Tuesday, March 21 at 5:00 p.m. in the Student Life Centre (SLC). "Students will have the opportunity to hear what their peers are passionate about, get involved, and learn about WUSA’s advocacy efforts this coming year," says a note from WUSA. "Those who are unable to attend the WUSA General Meeting can send their votes through designated proxies once the agenda has been set. The Proxy deadline is Friday, March 17 at 11:59 p.m."

Aaron GuanThe Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology (WIN) is hosting an event featuring Aaron Guan, Founder and CEO at Neptune Nanotechnologies Inc. as part of the WIN Industry Speaker Series today from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. in QNC 1501.

Guan is the founder and CEO of Neptune Nanotechnologies Inc. which is an early stage deep tech startup focused on the commercialization of biodegradable nanomaterials. Neptune is creating a new class of innovative nano-structured material from organic ocean waste, with applications in aerospace, biomedical, coatings, packaging and 3D printing industries.

In this seminar, Aaron would like to share his 6 year story of building his first failed nanotechnology startup shortly after graduation; experiences and insights learned along the way; and how he is now applying those lessons learned to his new company.

Registration is required.

Finally, just a reminder that more than 10,000 future students and their families have registered for tomorrow's March Break Open House, taking place at various sites around campus from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Highlights include chats with faculty and current students, information sessions and sample lectures. Events are also scheduled in Cambridge, Stratford, and downtown Kitchener.

Beyond the Bulletin Episode 150

Beyond the Bulletin banner featuring two vintage microphones.

We're back! The latest episode of the Beyond the Bulletin Podcast is now live. Jennisha Wilson, director of anti-racism, discusses the unit’s priorities and plans, and what we can all do to advance anti-racism efforts at Waterloo. Research Infosource designated Research University of the Year among Canadian comprehensive universities for the 15th consecutive year. The University community will welcome an Eagle Staff, which reflects the wisdom, strength, and honour of those who carry it. And registration is open for the annual staff conference.

Link of the day

St. Patrick's Day

When and Where to get support

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

Instructors looking for targeted support for developing online components for blended learning courses, transitioning remote to fully online courses, revising current online courses, and more please visit Agile Development | Centre for Extended Learning | University of Waterloo (

Faculty, staff, post-doc and graduate student instructors can find upcoming teaching and learning workshops, self-directed modules and recordings of previous events on Centre for Teaching Excellence Workshops and Events page.

Instructors can access the EdTech Hub to find support on Waterloo’s centrally supported EdTech tools. The Hub is supported by members of IST’s Instructional Technologies and Media ServicesCentre for Teaching ExcellenceCentre for Extended Learning and subject matter experts from other campus areas.

Supports are available for employees returning to campus. Visit IST’s Hybrid Work and Technology guidelines and workplace protocols to assist with the transition.

Students with permanent, temporary and suspected disabilities and disabling conditions (medical conditions, injuries, or trauma from discrimination, violence, or oppression) can register with AccessAbility Services for academic accommodations (classroom accommodations, testing accommodations, milestone accommodations).

Instructors can visit AccessAbility Services' Faculty and Staff web page for information about the Instructor/Faculty role in the accommodation process. Instructors/Faculty members are legally required to accommodate students with disabilities. AccessAbility Services (AAS) is here to help you understand your obligations, and to offer services and resources to help you facilitate accommodations.

Did you know that the Writing and Communication Centre offers many in-person and virtual services to support you with any writing or communication project? This term we've added The Write Spot: a new student space in South Campus hall, complete with bookable workspaces, drop-ins with our peer tutors, and free coffee and tea. We also have one-to-one appointments with our writing and communication advisors and peer tutors, email tutoring for grads and undergrads, drop-ins at Dana Porter Libraryonline workshopswriting groupsEnglish conversation practice, and even custom in-class workshops. For any communication project, the Writing and Communication Centre is here to support you.

Research Ethics: Find yourself with an ethical question, unsure if your work requires an ethics review, or need advice about putting together a research ethics application? Reach out to one of our friendly staff by booking a consultation or email us with your questions.

Co-op students can get help finding a job and find supports to successfully work remotely, develop new skills, access wellness and career information, and contact a co-op or career advisor.

The Centre for Career Action (CCA) has services and programs to support undergrads, grad students, postdocs, alumni, and employees in figuring out what they value, what they’re good at, and how to access meaningful work, co-op, volunteer, or graduate/professional school opportunities. Questions about CCA's services? Live chat, call 519-888-4047, or stop by our front desk in the Tatham Centre 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday.

Drop-in to in-person Warrior Study Halls on Thursdays from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in DC and DP. Join a Peer Success Coach to set goals and work independently or in groups each week.

Renison's English Language Institute continues to offer virtual events and workshops to help students practice their English language skills.

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 TreatmentGood2Talk is a post-secondary student helpline available to all students.

The Library is here to help, both in person and online. Our spaces are open for access to book stacks, study spaces, computers/printers, and the IST Help Desk. For in-depth support, meet one-to-one with Librarians, Special Collections & Archives and Geospatial Centre staff. Visit the Library’s home page to access our online resources for anywhere, anytime learning and research.

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.

The Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion & Anti-Racism (EDI-R) works with students, faculty and staff across campus to advance equity and Anti-racism through evidence-based policies, practices and programs. If you have a concern related to Anti-racism and/or equity, please complete our intake form.

The Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office (SVPRO) supports all members of the University of Waterloo campus community who have experienced, or been impacted, by sexual violence. This includes all students, staff, faculty and visitors on the main campus, the satellite campuses, and at the affiliated and federated Waterloo Institutes and Colleges. For support, email: or visit the SVPRO website.

The Office of Indigenous Relations is a central hub that provides guidance, support, and resources to all Indigenous and non-Indigenous campus community members and oversees the University's Indigenization strategy.

The Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre, based at United College, provides support and resources for Indigenous students, and educational outreach programs for the broader community, including lectures, and events.

WUSA supports for students:

Peer support - MATESGlow CentreRAISEWomen’s Centre - Click on one of the links to book an appointment either in person or online for the term.

Food Support Service food hampers are currently available from the Turnkey Desk 24/7 in the Student Life Centre. Drop-off locations are also open again in SLC, DC, DP, SCH, and all residences.

Co-op Connection all available online. 

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

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 1-833-628-5589.

GSA-UW supports for graduate students: 

The Graduate Student Association (GSA-UW) supports students’ academic and social experience and promotes their well-being.

Advising and Support - The GSA advises graduate students experiencing challenges and can help with navigating university policies & filing a grievance, appeal, or petition.

Mental Health covered by the Health Plan - The GSA Health Plan now has an 80 per cent coverage rate (up to $800/year) for Mental Health Practitioners. Your plan includes coverage for psychologists, registered social workers, psychotherapists, and clinical counselors.

Dental Care - The GSA Dental Plan covers 60 to 70 per cent of your dental costs and by visiting dental professionals who are members of the Studentcare Networks, you can receive an additional 20 to 30 per cent coverage.

Student Legal Protection Program - Your GSA fees give you access to unlimited legal advice, accessible via a toll-free helpline: +1-833-202-4571. This advice covers topics including housing disputes, employment disputes, and disputes with an academic institution.

The Graduate House: Open Monday to Tuesday 11:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Wednesday to Friday 11:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. We’re open to all students, faculty, staff, and community members. The Graduate House is a community space run by the GSA-UW. We’re adding new items to the menu. Graduate students who paid their fees can get discounts and free coffee.

When and Where 

Fitness and Personal Training - Registrations opened January 5 this winter with Personal Training and Small Group Training as well as a Free Warrior Workout Program.

Student Health Pharmacy in the basement of the Student Life Centre is now offering Covid booster shots (Pfizer and Moderna) and flu shots. Call 519-746-4500 or extension 33784 for an appointment. Walk-ins always welcome.

KIX 2023: Knowledge Integration eXhibition, Monday, March 13 to Saturday, March 18, St. Jerome's University, Siegfried Hall Residence Wellness Centre Gym.

NEW - Black at Waterloo Black Film Festival, Wednesday, March 15 to Friday, March 17, 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., Princess Twin cinema.

WIN Industry Speaker: Aaron Guan, Friday, March 17, 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

NEW - World Water Day 2023, Wednesday, March 22, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

NEW - Using AI to advance health care in Canada, Wednesday, March 22, 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., online.

NEW - Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET) Information Session, Wednesday, March 22, 5:00 p.m.

NEW - Portia's Julius Caesar, Wednesday, March 22 to March 25, Theatre of the Arts.

Equitable Recruitment and Selection, Friday, March 24, 10:00 a.m. to 12 noon, online.

NEW - Knowledge Integration Senior Honours Projects Symposium, Friday, March 24, 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., EV3-1408.