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Convocation is a time of celebration and fun. But it can also give rise to anxiety and confusion for nervous students and parents confronted with an intimidating array of dress and ceremony protocols. Fortunately, Professors David Harpp and Edith Zorychta have hit upon a new idea that will help calm convocation jitters.
In their roles as marshal and assistant marshal for this year's convocation, Harpp and Zorychta have created what amounts to an online dress rehearsal for graduands and their parents. A quick click on the McGill website takes the viewer to a narrated slide show that explains the wheres and hows of graduation day. A series of photos provides a preview of the ceremonies, while the narrators describe such intricacies as parking, seating and gowns.
"If you asked any marshal that has helped to coordinate in the past if students know what to do on convocation, they would tell you that they often don't," says Harpp, noting that students are often nervous and unfamiliar with the protocols of hoods and handshakes.
To create an online convocation guide, Harpp drew on the pioneering work he has done with COOL (Courses Online), an innovation that allows professors to record and upload both the audio and visual aspects of their lectures. He hopes that the COOL Convocation presentations will ensure a smooth week for his first experience as marshall.
"The people we tried it out on in a test showing said they liked it, which is a good sign," he said.
Harpp has made an effort to make sure the convocation guides are helpful to everyone, including parents and friends who might be unfamiliar with the pomp and circumstance of a university on graduation day. Separate presentations are available for the ceremonies to be held at Macdonald Campus and in the music building. The site also features a French presentation for parents and guests.