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.

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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.

 

Changes to Nexus

Our online learning management system, Nexus, took on a new look today.  Your log in credentials remain the same.

The visual presentation will strike you as different as soon as you log in; the system has a new colour scheme and different feel.  While all of the functionality remains the same, some portions have moved and a few renamed.

For example:

-course list now uses picture icons instead of hypertext links

-the course drop down list has moved location

-Dropboxes have been renamed to Assignments

Be sure to check it out!

Course Evaluations

Course evaluations are a part of every PACE class. They can be both a valuable insight for instructors, and a source of stress.  Knowing how to look at them takes some forethought and practice.

All instructors are asked to provide time in the last class for students to complete evaluations. In the full time programs, evaluations are completed online.  Students have a link from Nexus to the evaluation page which they can complete for each course in the program.  In part time classes, students complete the evaluations in hardcopy; best practice for these paper forms is to designate one student to collect then and return them to the PACE Registration office or drop box.

To encourage completion, it is best practice not to do them as the last item of the day or before lunch; students tend to just get up and leave. A better practice is to ask students to complete them right after coming back from a break or at the start of class to encourage better completion rates.  It’s also a good idea to remind students that the evaluations are anonymous and shared with instructors only after grades are turned in.

When you go to review course evaluations, it’s is best to ensure that you are in the right frame of mind. If you are unhappy, you are going to fixate on the negative comments, which is unfair to you and your next group of students.  (A tip I picked up listening to the podcast Teaching in Higher Ed, episode 165: http://teachinginhighered.com/podcast/teaching-lessons-course-evaluations/)

As you review the evaluations, keep in mind the population you are teaching. Some students are going to love you no matter what, some students will hate you no matter what; throw out the top comment and the bottom comment.  You are teaching to the students in the middle, pay attention to what they have to say.

Looking at those comments from the middle, remember why you reading these: to learn and improve yourself. Look at comments that provide some insight beyond just “this was good” or “I liked it”.  In some cases, you may need to remind yourself about why certain points are in the materials.  I have seen comments where students question the material being taught; I always revisit why it is present and confirm that the material is valid.  Students are not necessarily in the best place to judge why material is included, but they can certainly provide insight into how material is being received.

Take the feedback to heart, identify something that you will do differently next time and make notes right away so you don’t forget. No one is perfect, so taking the time to look at small ways to improve our content and our delivery is always a good idea.   With a little bit of practice on how to read them, feedback can be an invaluable part of growing as an instructor.

Copyright and Teaching

A July 12, 2017 federal court decision found that York University had violated Canadian copyright law.  While the specifics do not exactly match up with PACE, the case does highlight the need for university administrators and instructors to be cognizant of copyright rules and ensure that they are followed.

The University of Winnipeg revised the copyright policy in 2016, and the revised policy and procedures are published on the internet:

http://copyright.uwinnipeg.ca/basics/copyright-policy.html

PACE instructors should take a moment to review them and ensure that the material they are presenting follows the rules.

Since taking on this position, I’ve discovered that the rules are not always as straight forward as they seem.  Instructors, like students, need to ensure that credit is given for sources used, that the use fits within the fair dealing provisions of the law, and that the material is shared appropriately.  If any questions arise, get in touch with me, your program manager, of the University’s Copyright Office directly to get some advice.

As the York University case highlighted, a university policy provides some guidelines, but the specifics of the material, how the material is shared, with whom and how many people it is shared, all play a role in deciding if the use complies with the law.

If you want to review the federal court decision, you can access it here:

http://decisions.fct-cf.gc.ca/fc-cf/decisions/en/item/232727/index.do?r=AAAAAQAEeW9yawE#_Summary_of_Conclusions

New Look for Nexus Coming Soon

From the University tech office:
“Our Learning Management System is getting a facelift. Starting on August 16, you’ll notice a new look for Nexus.  A cleaner interface, new fonts, and updated icons mean that your courses will look more polished and modern than ever.
The new user interface, called the Daylight Experience, was built with a responsive design. This means that it adapts to different screen sizes and looks great on laptops, tablets and smartphones.
Nexus functionality and workflows are not changing. This new look is designed to make the experience more consistent and visually appealing, as well as easier for you to create and update your courses.
Some of the changes that are being implemented to improve the design include:

  • Simplified navigation design that is responsive for smaller devices
  • Wider page layout for your content so that it’s the focal point of the page
  • New fonts, icons, colors and simpler formatting of widgets provide a consistent experience

We’re excited for this change and the improvements that we’ll see in Nexus. More information and updates will be posted soon. Stay tuned.”

Remember that Nexus can be used for part time courses, not just full time!  Just ask your program manager and we can set it up.

Manitoba Open Textbook Initiative

Ever thought about the cost of textbooks to students?  The US Bureau of Labor Statistics tracked textbook prices at American universities over the 10 years from 2006 to 2016 and found an 87.5% increase, compared to a 63% rise in tuition.  Canadian prices are likely much the same.

There is an initiative to encourage the use of open licence textbooks, you can learn about it here:

http://openedmb.ca/

Essentially, this joint operation of the post secondary institutions in Manitoba provides links to open copyright textbooks.  Instructors and students can access these books at no cost for e-versions and a small cost for print versions.

Take a look and see if there is text book suitable for your course.  If you are experiencing issues around text book accessibility, student’s completing readings, or cost issues, this may provide a viable alternative.

Deferred Final Exams, Missed Mid-terms Quizzes and Assignments: What to do?

From time to time, questions arise about students missing assignments, quizzes, or exams, or students seeking to defer exams.  A guide for these student issues can be found in the PACE Student Handbook, linked from this page:

http://pace.uwinnipegcourses.ca/student-resources

As an instructor, answering these questions can be tricky. As a source of support, you can always contact the Academic Advisor for full-time programs: Kelly Carpick (k.carpick@uwinnipeg.ca).

When a student misses an assignment, quiz, or midterm

Based on PACE policy, no make-up session will be scheduled for a missed test, quiz and mid-term exam. If the student’s absence is legitimate, it is the instructor’s decision whether to add the weight of this item of work to another individual item of work (i.e., final exam). Instructors can ask students for documentation (doctors note, incident report) when determining the legitimacy of a student’s absence. If you are unsure of whether or not to add the value of a missed item of work to another, please contact the academic advisor. Students who do not have a legitimate absence will receive a grade of zero for this item of work.

In some cases, the missed assignment, quiz, or mid-term, may contain material that is considered crucial or integral to the course.  If that is the case, the student may be provided with an opportunity to complete the work, provided that the reason for missing the original date is legitimate.  This is a recent evolution of the PACE policy on the topic and will shortly be reflected in an updated version of the Student Handbook. Please note that it would be up to the instructor to invigilate another time for the student to write the missed item of work.

When a student misses a final exam

The easiest question to answer is around student requests to defer an exam.  In this case, ‘exam’ is referring to a final exam, since PACE does not defer mid-term exams. If a student misses a final exam, please notify the academic advisor. At that point, the academic advisor can reach out to the student and request documentation as well as a deferral examination request form. This must occur within 2 days of the original examination date. The student will be required to provide documentation (medical note, accident report, obituary etc.), as well as pay an administrative fee of $75. Ingrid Krenn who is the exam coordinator at PACE will contact the instructor to provide an alternate exam for the student to write within 10 days of the original exam date. If you have questions or concerns regarding the alternate exam, please contact the program manager and/or myself.