The Vancouver Sun – Education News

It was about six years ago that UBC professor Jon Beasley-Murray first noticed his students citing Wikipedia in their essays.

If they were going to use Wikipedia for his class on Latin American literature, he thought, they might as well improve some of the shoddy articles on the subject.

For the past five years, students in his class have edited or contributed articles to Wikipedia as part of a class assignment.

“It was a chance to break down some of the barriers between the university and society,” Beasley-Murray said.

Wikipedia is described as a “free, web-based, collaborative, multilingual encyclopedia project supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation”. It was launched in 2001 and takes the first part of its name from the Hawaiian word “wiki,” for fast, and is the name of a server program that allows anyone to edit the website’s content through their own browser.

At the moment, Beasley-Murray is one of relatively few professors using Wikipedia in class assignments, but that may change this year. The foundation behind Wikipedia is hoping to get more teachers using the website in the classroom. So far, the universities of Alberta and Toronto have agreed to take part in the project.

Read more here.

By Jordan Press, Postmedia News November 4, 2011

© Copyright (c) Postmedia News

Innovative Media for the Classroom and Communities

Use diverse educational tools to enhance learning: Our trusted, high-calibre content includes exciting web-based learning platforms and teaching guides probing topics such as environmental studies, citizen media and Aboriginal culture.

Teaching Guides

A good study guide can bring a film to life within a classroom setting. Guides are available for thousands of NFB productions, helping teachers to choose the right film for their curriculum and get the best out of NFB resources.

Included are detailed curriculum notes and lesson plans, along with hands-on classroom activities and discussion starters.

In addition to our study guides, NFB Education provides short Education Descriptors—brief curriculum notes and grade level suggestions—for more than 2,000 online titles.

Education Playlists

Looking for animated shorts to show in your art class, or films that explore the complex issue of racism? Or are you seeking a good way to mark World Earth Day or another cultural event?

The NFB provides a growing collection of thematic playlists selected by experts to illustrate specific subjects or themes.

Educational Websites

A compelling and well-researched website can be a powerful learning tool, illuminating multiple aspects of an issue and engaging students in exciting creative dialogue.

The NFB has created its own cutting-edge interactive productions and has supported other web-based initiatives. These productions can provide a fresh approach to topics like Canadian history or Aboriginal culture and help clarify complex issues such as international development or environmentalism, or they can introduce kids to film animation in a playful and appealing manner.

~from the National Film Board Website – Education


Use DataBC to search data and make informed decisions, inspire change or develop ideas that will improve government policies. DataBC isn’t just data – it’s access to data that drives our province forward. The data is here for you – to answer questions, to improve decision making or to help build government services that matter most to you.

Find data from across the province in DataBC’s data catalogue. Access various types of datasets and tools designed to help you conduct your own research, analyze statistics, develop apps or satisfy your curiosity. You might like to know:

What is the government spending money on?
Have sustainable changes impacted carbon emissions? Find out what’s working and what needs improvement.
Which schools have the highest student scores on tests? Does that impact which schools I consider for my children?
What do municipal tax rates look like across the province?
There are minimal system and licensing requirements so you can easily access what you’re looking for. In fact, we’ve even developed apps to help organize and translate some of the data for you. Check out what DataBC has to offer and get started on your project. As you do, keep in mind that others are interested in hearing about your experience – contact us, blog about your findings, or join an online community.

This type of information sharing is governed by legislation and policy that makes provision for the release of public information.

-from the DataBC website

Data Catalogue on Education here

Citizens @ the Centre: B.C. Government 2.0 Publication here

The Vancouver Sun  

January 2, 2012. 3:01 pm • Section: Report Card, STAFF

My picks for the top newsmakers in B.C. education 2011:

1. George Abbott. Re-appointed education minister in March, Abbott received a surprisingly warm reception from all stakeholder groups, including the BCTF. But relations with the union have cooled since then as a result of difficult contract talks and discussions at another table to settle thorny issues of class size and composition. His biggest accomplishment in 2011 was winning unanimous support in the legislature (and quiet acceptance everywhere else) for legislation creating a new B.C. Teachers’ Council to replace the dysfunctional B.C. College of Teachers. We should know later this year if he has found a winning formula. Eyes will also be on Abbott as he creates a plan for so-called 21st century learning in public schools. (Add your views:

2. Susan Lambert. She was a force to be reckoned with in 2011 as BCTF president, but her real test will be this year  as she continues efforts to win a wage increase for teachers despite the government’s firm commitment to its public-sector wage freeze. The union has been involved in a work-to-rule job action since September but that’s unlikely to be sufficient pressure to win the kind of deal her members are expecting. The question now is, when will the BCTF move to a Phase 2 job action? And will that be a full-scale walkout? Lambert is also facing a showdown with government over Bills 27 and 28, which ended the union’s ability to negotiate class size and composition. The court declared the bills unconstitutional and gave the Liberals until April to resolve the issue. Government and the union do not agree on what sort of action the court ruling requires.

3. Patti Bacchus. While she didn’t have the same profile in 2011 as she did in 2010 when she went head-to-head with former education minister Margaret MacDiarmid, Bacchus continues to be the most recognizable and outspoken trustee in B.C. Whether you like that or not, depends on your politics because she isn’t Liberal friendly. That said, Bacchus topped the polls in Vancouver during trustee elections in November, as she did in 2008, and was once again elected chairwoman. Her challenge this year will be the same as it was last year: leading the board as it cuts millions in spending without closing schools.

Read full article here.

By Janet Steffenhagen, Vancouver Sun

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun


Imagine a world where anyone can instantly access all of the world’s scholarly knowledge – as profound a change as the invention of the printing press. Technically, this is within reach. All that is needed is a little imagination, to reconsider the economics of scholarly communications from a poetic viewpoint.


There are over 7,000 peer-reviewed fully open access journals as listed in the DOAJ, still growing by 4 titles per day and over 6,000 of these are in English, as listed by Open J-Gate. Electronic Journals Library keeps track of more than 32,000 free journals. There are over 2,000 repositories, linking to more than 30 million items, growing at the rate of 21 thousand items per day, which can be searched through the snazzy new Bielefeld Academic Search Engine search options. PLoS ONE, having become the world’s largest journal last year, outdid themselves by doubling the number of articles published this year. PubMedCentral, arXiv, RePEC, and E-LIS growth was in the 10-15% range for the year. This issue of Dramatic Growth adds a new feature, a first attempt at comparing compliance rates with a few medical funders’ open access policies – so far, Wellcome Trust is looking good!

Read full article here.

By Heather Morrison

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

UVic historian of education paints a bleak political picture, and blames all sides.

By Crawford Kilian, 3 Jan 2012,

Title: Worlds Apart: British Columbia Schools, Politics, and Labour Relations Before and After 1972

Author: Thomas Fleming

Published by Bendall Books (2011)

Just about everyone with an interest in B.C. schools will have to read this book — parents, teachers, trustees, administrators, politicians, the media. None of them are going to like it.

That’s because Thomas Fleming, a professor emeritus at UVic, has studied our schools for many years; he knows the system we set up back in 1849. He knows how it’s changed, not always for the better. With energetic impartiality, he finds fault with teachers, trustees, civil servants, and politicians, especially since the first NDP government took power 40 years ago.

From his earlier books and articles, I was familiar with his thesis: B.C. education had been effectively nonpolitical from 1872 until 1972. A handful of dedicated ministry officials had run the schools in an “imperial” style from Victoria, while sending equally dedicated inspectors out to make sure the system was running well. Those inspectors were often veterans of rural and urban schools who had risen through the ranks.

Read complete article here

Dec. 9, 2011

VICTORIA – Overall school district operating grants and average per-pupil funding have increased again this year as B.C. continues to provide record funding levels for K-12 education.

Operating Funding

· Total operating funding to school districts in 2011-12 is $4.721 billion, a $58-million increase over 2010-11.
· Average per-pupil funding as of the fall enrolment count is estimated at $8,491, a $98 increase over 2010-11.
· $61.7 million is now being released to districts, including $57.4 million that had been held for anticipated enrolment increases.
· $63 million ($1,160 per student) is being provided in supplemental funding for Aboriginal education in 2011-12.
· $385.2 million is being provided in supplemental funding for students with special needs in 2011-12.
· Since 2000-01, the Province has increased funding to B.C. public schools by nearly $1.4 billion: $977 million in operating funds and $407 million in one-time grants.


· Public school enrolment for 2011-12 is 556,045 FTE students, 973 more than last September.
· This includes 6,117 FTE students enrolled in courses during summer 2011 and a combined 10,709 FTE students projected by school districts for February and May 2012.
· The overall enrolment increase is a result of the final year of full-day kindergarten expansion. However, enrolment in grades 1-12 has declined by 7,046 FTE students.
· Actual September enrolment is 1,237 FTE students fewer than districts had projected in the spring.
· Since 2000-01, September enrolment has declined by nearly 59,000 students.

NewsRoom: BC’s Online News Source; Province of British Columbia,  Dec. 9, 2011

Connect with the Province of B.C. at:

Learn More:

See the new enrolment and funding information for your district in 2011-12 at:

See all provincewide enrolment and funding information for 2011-12 at:

Media contact:

Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Education
250 356-5963

Ontarians are busy debating where the province’s three new post-secondary campuses should be, with mayors from Barrie to Niagara Falls holding out their caps. But ahead of that decision, Glen Murray, Ontario’s new Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, says there are all kinds of ideas he wants to explore first. Those who lust after future campuses should take note.

Here are 10 things I learned about the future of higher education in Ontario from Glen Murray.

1. Murray’s biggest concern “is how we’re utilizing the existing capacity we have right now.” He thinks more campuses should be using their physical resources year-round, by offering three-semesters, perhaps.

2. He’s exploring three-year degrees. Three, after all, is the standard in Europe and is increasingly common in Australia. The fourth year could be rolled into the Master’s, he says.

3. Murray knows that students’ “tolerance” for 500-person lectures delivered on physical campuses is waning. He thinks future courses will include more online delivery. “I think you’re seeing the build out now, in the next few years, of information technology and online learning at the kind of scale you saw with the expansion of the colleges in the 70s and 80s,” he says.

4. Murray thinks the government can help us use our time more wisely, perhaps by offering courses on commuter trains and coaches. “Working, looking after your family, often your extended family… it’s very hard to find time to upgrade your skills,” he explains.

5. Murray thinks new campuses should be catalysts for downtown revitalization. When he was mayor of Winnipeg, Red River College wanted to build on the periphery, but he insisted it be built in the Exchange District. “That triggered a renewal of that part of Winnipeg where the vacancy rate dropped from over 50 per cent to around 10 per cent and provoked a renewal of the City of Winnipeg’s tax base,” he says, and “it spawned a whole bunch of new enterprises, triggered a digital effects industry, and repopulated a whole bunch of heritage buildings.”

6. Murray sees a lot of struggling places aching for development in Ontario too. He notes that successful revitalizations of downtowns are already underway by Brock University in St. Catharines and by Wilfrid Laurier University in Brantford, Ont. He sees potential for such revitalization in cities like Hamilton, Ont. where downtown is “50 per cent parking lots.”

7. But he thinks rural Ontario can’t be overlooked. “The problems of Dryden, Cornwall, Lindsay, Sudbury or Goderich are not that different from the problems of large urban centres where mainstreets have declined and are bereft of businesses and activities,” he says. “We want to make sure we’re restoring small-town Ontario and using our public institutions to help rebuild main-streets of small communities.” While he says it’s premature to guess where the new campuses may be, that statement makes it seem less likely that all will be built in fast-growing suburban Toronto.

8. Murray says Ontario will bound into the future on the backs of the Gazelles, small knowledge-based companies that derive value out of high-tech design and intellectual property. “[Gazelles] are often perfect in the small retail buildings that make up the small streets of downtowns and they need connections to some sort of university or research facility,” he says.

9. Murray won’t commit to making the new campuses teaching-focused, as was proposed in the recent book Academic ReformIn teaching universities, class sizes could theoretically be halved or tuition could be reduced—or both—because professors spend 80 per cent of their time teaching, rather than 40 per cent of their time teaching and 40 per cent on research as they do today.

10. Policy on the new campuses is coming in a month or so. In the meantime: “if universities are coming at me saying, look, right now we have X number of buildings and this kind of campus, we think we can use these assets to better serve our communities, but our new campus idea would add net new value by doing this, this and this,” says Murray, “that’s the type of thing I’m looking for.”


This article was written by Josh Dehaas for Macleans on campus. 

The presidents of B.C.’s four research universities have joined others in calling on the provincial Liberal government to improve financial assistance for post-secondary students to bring B.C. closer in line with what’s offered in other provinces. Read the entire story here.

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