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McGill Reporter
December 12, 2002 - Volume 35 Number 07
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On campus

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We're gettin' there!

We've almost met our target. Thanks to the generosity of students, staff and faculty, McGill's 2002 Centraide Campaign has raised $207,900 for the charity. Since McGill hopes to raise $250,000 for Centraide before year-end, pledges are still welcome and can be downloaded from www.mcgill.ca/centraide. Thanks again for your support.

Good morning, Canada

He was an icon to Canadians across the country, and his passing earlier this year left a void that can't be filled. Or can it? The name of Peter Gzowski, the voice of CBC Radio's Morningside, lives on with the creation of an internship program that will see students from four universities across the country -- including McGill -- immerse themselves in public broadcasting for a summer.

"McGill University is delighted to be chosen to participate in this wonderful initiative which celebrates the life of Peter Gzowski," said Bruce Minorgan, associate dean (administration) at McGill's Faculty of Music. "These internships, in Gzowski's honour, will give our music students an invaluable opportunity to develop new career-related skills and enhance their understanding of the value of public broadcasting for our nation."

Photo Peter Gzowski
CBC still photo collection, Toronto

The Gzowski interns will receive a week of training in Toronto, starting in late April, and then each will spend their summer in a different location learning about the craft of radio.

"We are looking for applicants who embody the core values of CBC Radio, its staff and its listeners," said Patricia Pleszczynska, regional director of CBC Radio - Montreal.

Interns are required to apply to Bruce Minorgan at bruce.minorgan@mcgill.ca or 514-398-6333 by noon on Wednesday, January 15, 2003. For more information see www.cbc.ca/gzowskiinternships.

Making list, checking twice

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The McCord Museum has plenty of activities for little ones that need distraction from the endless dragging hours before the Big Guy in Red arrives. Put their restlessness to good use -- on December 14 and 15 the museum will be hosting "Pretty Enough to Eat," where kids can make their own Christmas ornaments. The glue-free creations can be made with felt and other colourful cloths, or tasty jujubes attached to styrofoam balls (we suspect the latter might look a little sparse before the end of the day).

The next weekend offers a chance for the little ones to make "A Surprise for Santa" -- hand-painted glasses for his milk, and faux cookies out of paste to complete the display.

On the afternoon before the night before the night before Christmas, creatures will be stirring in the Geordie Theatre production of Mouse, a play for children aged 6 to 11. Burnt-out parents and Scrooges take heart -- it is not a Christmas play.

Pretty Enough to Eat, December 14, 1:30 pm, December 15, 10:30 am, adults $10, children $5

A Surprise for Santa, December 21 and 22, 10:30 am, adults $10, children $5

Mouse, December 22, 1:30 pm, adults $12, children $6

Reservations required: 514-398-7100 ext. 222, www.mccord-museum.qc.ca, 690 Sherbrooke St. West

Fir sale

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O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree! How are thy leaves so verdant! And cheap, too, for staff and students of McGill, if they pop by the Morgan Arboretum for their annual Christmas plant sale. They have everything from balsam and Fraser fir, to poinsettias, to Christmas cacti -- not to mention honey and apples. And if buying your flora is too easy for you, the arboretum is prepared.

"We'll be selling greenery too, for people to make their own wreaths, and later on we'll be selling wreaths," said John Watson, manager of forest operations at the arboretum.

McGill students and staff are charged the members' rate, meaning you can save like, well, you know who. Trees are $25 for members, $35 for non-members.

Picking out the tree is often difficult. Watson prefers balsam fir, for their longer needles and greater staying power. Fraser firs, with their attractive blue-green colouring, are popular for aesthetic reasons.

Although the arboretum gets most of their merchandise from a local greenhouse and Christmas tree breeders, Watson said they will soon be getting into the business themselves. Think free-range chickens: "We're going to start selling natural trees -- there's a market for trees that haven't been pruned and groomed. They're easier to decorate and have more branches."

Morgan Arboretum, 150 Chemin des pins, Ste. Anne de Bellevue, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm every day. For information: 514-398-7812.

McGill education version 1.1

When the first charcoal was rubbed across a stone to depict prime hunting grounds, it was a revolutionary technology. Right now universities everywhere are in the midst of a technology revolution -- and the impacts are just as great.

The Computer Users Committee held a half-day forum on educational technology at McGill Dec. 2.

It started with a quick look at what technologies McGill instructors are already using in the classroom. Susan Czarnocki from the Humanities and Social Sciences Library presented the results from the educational technology users survey.

The programs that are currently available, like WebCT and PowerPoint, were used differently from faculty to faculty.

"WebCT was most popular in the arts -- these are people who are users of technology, not builders of technology," said Czarnocki, adding that engineering instructors are most likely to construct websites for their classes.

In the panel discussion that followed on policy implications, Gerald Ratzer, School of Computer Science, said he appreciated the potential to save time and paper for his class afforded by new teaching technologies. He is, however, concerned with the intellectual property issues of putting his class on PowerPoint.

Provost Luc Vinet said that education technology use at McGill needs some sort of central policy -- now, efforts are scattered. Implementing new technology leads to new problems, cautioned associate vice-principal (teaching) Martha Crago. "If you take the management E3 program, where there is a lot of work online, we don't know how to credit that."

Associate dean of Arts Chris Ragan said he just doesn't want professors to let ignorance or intimidation get in the way of exploring new methods of teaching. "My view is that the best would be not if everyone was using it, but that everybody had used it," he said.

Trenholme Director of Libraries Frances Groen pointed out that another consequence of the ease with which information can be transmitted is a growing lack of ability to measure the worth of that information. For that reason the libraries are introducing a program of "information literacy."

In the second panel discussion, "Impact on Practice," Prof. Ariel Fenster demoed the cool.mcgill.ca method by playing a clip from his computer of chemistry prof David Harpp addressing those assembled from afar. Harpp's innovative websites offer a complete presentation of his lectures and accompanying images (for a recent story, see www.mcgill.ca/reporter/05/supplement/cool).

Electrical and computer engineering prof Jeremy Cooperstock has another take on tech. Professors can "expose their work live, in response to questions, to create on the fly." By using a digital tablet to mark up a PowerPoint slide, an instructor can scribble her formulas on screen that can later be seen by students in front of their computers at home.

Jamshid Beheshti, Library and Information Sciences, is in the field of ensuring information literacy for wielding information technology. He said librarians need to be able to "recognize when information is needed and be able to locate it."

Lynn McAlpine, director of the Centre for University Teaching and Learning, is investigating the impact of new technology on learning -- what are the pitfalls and potentials? For examples of research proposals from creative McGill educators, go to www.education.mcgill.ca/cutl/abstracts2002/htm.

So with all this gadgetry are students now learning more? Fenster observed grades haven't necessarily gone up with the advent of COOL courses, but students now expect and demand these technologies. And a certain humanity does emerge with these newfangled means. Ask the Iranian student whose Mom is also taking chemistry -- they can follow the same courses together though thousands of miles separate them.

CUC meets once a month. For information contact David McKnight at 514-398-1565 or david.mcknight@mcgill.ca.

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