Teaching Within Programs

Many of us have either worked in or read about the dangers of working in a silo.  Businesses work to break down the mentality that has people focused on only their piece within the organization.  At PACE programs and courses are much the same, with the danger that people can be focused too narrowly on only their single course.

It’s important to remember that, with only a few exceptions, all PACE courses are delivered within programs, programs that include courses which build on one another to equip students with the knowledge and skills to be successful and competent in the workplace. Within a full-time program, it is advantageous to be aware of  the other courses that are delivered to the class.  Look at commonalities, and tie in concepts in materials so that students see the full picture of how the pieces come together, and not just within a silo.

Every diploma from PACE includes courses which focus on developing written and oral communication skills, as well as courses such as organizational behavior, and business fundamentals.  Each program has a variation on the topic of strategic planning and leadership.  Tying concepts from these courses into your specific course can provide students with more comprehensive and concrete understanding of  work related topics and organizations.

The integration of concepts from across a program, by referring back to concepts already taught or foreshadowing courses to come, helps with the overall student learning experience.

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Changes to Course Operations

Change is a constant process everywhere and PACE is no exception.  Starting in January, we are making two changes to our courses that will directly impact instructors.   After conducting surveys of instructors and engaging in focus group discussion both in house and with instructor groups, we are making changes to attendance tracking, and late assignment penalties.

Attendance

Effective January, 2018, attendance is no longer required for any PACE course.  (With the exception of seminars)

Instructors may want to continue to track attendance for their own purposes, particularly as it relates to participation grades, but there is no requirement to submit this information to PACE.  It is essential that instructors still notify PACE administration of any concerns regarding student attendance (late arrivals or not attending classes) on an ongoing basis to allow for timely intervention for any issues.

Late Assignment Penalties

For all courses starting after January 4, 2018, in all programs, there is no longer a late penalty for assignments.

Instead, students who are late without a valid, pre-approved reason, receive a 0.  This change is being introduced to better reflect the workplace; when a supervisor asked for work to be completed, it must be done on time or explained why it is late.  It is also designed to prevent an issue that occurred this past year with students manipulating the due dates of assignments in such a way as it impacted their eligibility for graduation and instructor workload.

This change is not intended to punish students that have a valid reason.  Instructors should act in that role of a supervisor and if there is a valid reason for an extension, such as a medical issue or death in a family, make adjustments to the due date – with best practice saying that this should be communicated in writing so as to have a paper trail!

The new late policy is included in the student handbook, January, 2018, edition, which can be viewed on the PACE website.  Students who cannot meet a deadline must contact the instructor no less than 24 hours in advance of the deadline to ask for an extension, providing a legitimate reason.

Instructor feedback has been helpful in helping to grow and improve our programs and we will communicate some additional changes for the Spring term in the coming months.  We are currently reviewing feedback from instructors about participation grading, grammar and spelling, and other assignment components with a view to improving expectations across all programs over  the coming year.

Your help in improving our systems, and in delivering our courses, has been invaluable in 2017.  Thank you for being a part of the PACE team, best wishes for the New Year.

Copyright & Nexus

Last week we had our third copyright information session for PACE instructors.  Thank you to all who’ve attended over the past month, and a special thank you to our Copyright office, an invaluable resource for all of us!

If you weren’t able to attend, there are three short tips to consider as you put your material on Nexus:

  • Instead of posting content, share a link!

A link is not copyrighted.  This is the safest and best way to share content with our students.

  • Link to the U of W library if you can

The library has a large amount of electronic content, including journals and articles.  It can be access through the U of W’s main website, and allows for linking to content using your, and student’s, U of W email address.

  • Last resort, relying on copyright exceptions

While posting a link is always the best answer, not all material is available on the Internet.  If you are going to add content, ensure you are doing so in a manner that respects the copyright laws.

The U of W’s Copyright Office has their own website that goes into much greater depth:

https://copyright.uwinnipeg.ca/

As we move forward with the audit of PACE’s materials on Nexus, if you have any concerns or want to have content removed, reach out to me or ‘instructorsupport’ and we will work with you.

Reminder: Attendance Tracking

Please remember that for programs that stared in the Fall of 2017, instructors are to use Nexus to track attendance.  We appreciate if the attendance is updated weekly.  This allows for both students and administration to track attendance at a glance and identify any issues.

For some students, attendance tracking is a part of their funding, and we are required to provide accurate and timely information on attendance.

For all students, attendance is a requirement for internship.  Setting expectations around attendance and arriving late to the classroom set up students for success in the workplace.  As instructors, we contribute to those expectations and help the students to model the behavior they need in the workplace.

A video is available on the Nexus Instructor Communication Portal as a guide to entering attendance using the online system.

Copyright & Publisher’s Slides

Are you using publisher slide decks in your courses? Are you posting them on Nexus?  Have you ever checked the permission rights to do so?  You may be surprised to know that many publishers do NOT give permission for publisher created slide decks to be posted to a learning management system such as Nexus.

The recent federal court case against York University has highlighted the need for faculty, instructors, and university departments to actively engage in following copyright laws. This includes following the rules when using publisher supplied slides.

The best practice for those using these items is: DO NOT POST TO NEXUS.  Unless you know the explicit permissions of for the textbook you are referring to you run the risk of being in violation of the copyright laws.  Even when using a text book from previous course offerings, where the permission was granted, it may not be valid in a course offering for which you are no longer using that text book.

Additionally, the views of publishers around modifying or adding to the slides varies, causing another area where issues arise.

An audit of the materials posted on Nexus will be coming up shortly and there will be further communication on that topic. Going forward, instructors should ensure that you have reviewed the copyright permissions specific to the publisher and course before you post them to Nexus or reproduce them in paper.

Copyright and Instagram

The recent communication about changes in the copyright rules came to mind when I saw this article on reposting / using Instagram images:
https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/reshare-instagram-posts-legally/?lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_feed%3BPhzO%2FgVmRuuxJzaN6%2BRJmg%3D%3D

If you use Instagram, it would be worth checking out the rules around using other people’s materials from there.

Be sure as well to check out the university’s message on copyright posted to Nexus.

 

 

Grades

From time to time, instructors ask the question does every student have to pass? At the core of answering this question is understanding PACE’s view on grades and the connection to our mission, and the relationship of PACE with the University.

PACE’s mission is to provide educational opportunities to our students that relate to the work place. Knowledge and skills learned in our classrooms are intended for use in the workplace.  By providing students with certificates and diplomas with the University’s logo, instructors are confirming to current and potential employers that students have achieved a standard within the courses and programs needed to meet the standards of the University’s Senate.

Employers are looking at those credentials as confirmation that a person has the ability to do certain jobs within the work place. Grades provide an indication to PACE that the student has those skills for granting credentials.  Students are looking at those grades as confirmation that they can represent their skills and knowledge to employers as being at an acceptable level.

Grades should be viewed then as a gauge that students can use in judging their skills and knowledge. Are they proficient at different skills to different levels? Is their knowledge of a subject adequate to meet the demands of a particular task or job function?  Are there areas for improvement?  Are there areas that are outstanding?

If you think of a sports team, whether hockey, football, volley ball or soccer, not every player will perform all the skills needed for that sport to the same level. Some players will be better at passing than others; some players may be better at catching a football, while others may excel at blocking.

If you praise a player for their catching ability when they can’t hold onto the ball, they will have false expectations of their abilities as they try out for positions. If they are selected on the basis of that praise, their new team will not be appreciative if the player can’t catch the ball.

Grades are similar. Giving unjustifiably high marks builds false expectations in students, and creates false expectations in employers.  Giving unjustifiably low grades can cause students to have low opinions of themselves, and cause employers to pass them over.

Clustering students into the top end of a grading scheme, or giving everyone a pass for a course, can also cause resentment between students. Students who have put large amounts of time and effort into producing quality work for a course may feel short changed by seeing peers who do little work receiving similar grades.

An established grading scheme for every method of evaluation on a course is critical to ensure that students are scored according to their knowledge and skills. Employers can then have confidence that students are presenting themselves with credible skills, which builds long term credibility for PACE courses.

In setting grades and designing rubrics, it is also important to keep in mind the expectations of the University itself around PACE courses. Many of our courses are articulated with courses in degree programs.  This means that taking the PACE course is considered the equivalent of a degree course, sometimes at the second or third year level.  Assessments and grades in these courses should be reflective of that recognition.

In short, no, not every student needs to pass a course. Nor does every student need to get an A+.  Grades should be reflective of the demonstrated knowledge and skills a student has shown to meet the method of evaluation for the course.

 

 

A message on Copyright

Be sure to log into Nexus and check out the University’s message on copyright posted to the announcements page of the Instructor Communication Portal.

With the Supreme Court’s decision on copyright and York University this summer there have been changes to how copyright is assessed.  All PACE instructors should be familiar with the rules and ensure that they are following them in their course offerings.

The fall brings lots of changes everywhere, not the least at PACE. We have had four new program groups start: Human Resources, Network Security, Public Relations, and Project Management.  At the same time, we introduced some changes on the administrative side, and on the teaching side.

If you’ve been away from the university for the last week, remember that the wireless password has changed. Before you come down, log into Nexus or Webadvisor to get the new password.  If you get down here and forgot, the students will tell you or stop by the office.

We have also made some changes on the administrative side. First class registers are no longer required for PACE courses.  For the full time programs starting in the fall of 2017 and going forward, attendance tracking is now done on Nexus.  It is found under the Assessments tab inside the program folder; instructions were sent out through the program managers and also posted to the Nexus Instructor Communication Portal.

For the students, changes were made for the fall programs with the introduction of an orientation program. Five days long, these presentations were built around the theme of giving students skills to survive and do better in their studies.  Each group received an orientation to the university, including the library, a study skills workshop, an exposure to cultural differences and issues, and a Total SDI introduction covering their motivational background and conflict approaches.

As instructors come into contact with the fall groups, it would be worthwhile to look back at the skills in their toolbox and build on them. The Total SDI piece connects with anyone who has a conflict topic in their course, group work, or oral communication piece.  While the concept is bigger than can be covered off here, one stand out piece is the idea that communication has to be tailored to the recipient’s motivators and approaches in order to be heard.  A point that will come up time and again as our students begin to work in groups!

As we move into fall, we will be again having professional development sessions for instructors. Be sure to pass along any ideas you may have, or reach out to myself or the program manager with any concerns.

Adminstrative Changes at PACE

PACE has introduced two administrative changes, one impacting all courses and one impacting full time courses.

For full time courses, beginning with this Fall’s programs, attendance will be tracked on Nexus. This change is for full time courses only.

It will allow students the benefit to see their attendance live, without needing any assistance, and will allow instructors to see, live, how a student is doing around meeting class commitments as well.

Instructions on how to do attendance  in Nexus are in the Nexus Instructor Communication Portal, under Content – Full Time Programs.

The other change applies to all PACE courses: first class registers are no longer required. Effectively August 25, first class registers are no longer required.