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Supporting Rapid Response research

The Vice-Principal (Research) announces the second round of internal funding for projects supporting medical and social coronavirus-related solutions.

A second round of funding for COVID-19-related research has been allocated as part of the Rapid Response competition, announced by the Vice-Principal (Research) in late-March. Thirteen projects that contribute to the development, testing, and implementation of medical or social countermeasures to mitigate the rapid spread of COVID-19 have already been funded through the program. Now, seven more applicants have received funding in a second round of the competition.

The diverse projects cross several fields and disciplines. They range from learning how Indigenous peoples living with chronic health issues are impacted by COVID-19 to studying the psychosocial implications of the pandemic among cancer survivors.  

The successful projects are:

  • Chantelle Capicciotti (Chemistry) – Developing sweet prophylactics: targeting glycans to prevent COVID-19 spread
  • Amrita Roy (Family Medicine) – Indigenous peoples living with chronic health issues during the COVID-19 era – examining experiences in Katarokwi (Kingston, Ontario area)
  • Jacqueline Galica (Nursing) – The psychosocial implications of COVID-19: How are cancer survivors coping?
  • Kristy Timmons (Education) – Using social and behavioural science to help teachers and principals mitigate the negative impacts of COVID-19 in K-12 contexts
  • Elaine Power (Kinesiology & Health Studies) – Leave no one behind: Income security for the 21st century
  • Elijah Bisung (Kinesiology & Health Studies) – Mobilizing local stakeholders to address COVID-19 misinformation and mistrust in Ghana
  • Stephen Vanner (Medicine) – COVID-19 testing of health professional students: Informing testing and public policy for universities and society

For more information on the Rapid Response competition, visit the Office of the Vice-Principal (Research)  website.  

Showcasing the Art of Research – photo essay

The Queen’s Art of Research photo contest celebrates its fifth year, with the selection of ten winning images.

It was another record-breaking year for the Art of Research photo contest, with more than 100 faculty, staff, students, and alumni submitting engaging and thought-provoking research images. The 2020 competition is the largest in the contest’s five-year history, with images winning 10 category and special prizes.

The Art of Research image take us behind-the-scenes of the everyday research experience. From images capturing remote fieldwork to invisible particles under the microscope, the Art of Research seeks to spark curiosity and visualize the ground-breaking research happening at Queen’s. The contest strives to represent the diversity and creativity of Queen’s research, with winners representing multiple disciplines and submissions highlighting research happening at all career stages. This year’s winners will be featured in a digital photo gallery showcasing the contest’s winners and top submissions from the past five years on the Research@Queen’s website.

Category: Invisible Discoveries

[Photograph is of a water-swollen hydrogel particle]

Porous Plastic Particle

Submitted by: Ross Jansen-van Vuuren, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Chemistry

Location of Photo: Bruce Hall, SEM Lab, Queen’s University

Description of Photo: The photograph is of a water-swollen hydrogel particle created in our chemistry laboratory, taken with an instrument called a Scanning Electron Microscope, which allows us to zone in and see important details on the surface of the hydrogel. A hydrogel is essentially a plastic material that is able to absorb very large volumes of water (up to 800 times its weight!) – much like a baby diaper, swelling as it does so. From the image, the surface of the hydrogel is seen to possess large, distinctive pores, which help us understand how and why hydrogels absorb so much liquid.

Category: Out in the Field

[Aerial view algal blooms in South Frontenac County]

Nature's van Gogh

Submitted by: Hayden Wainwright, Student (MSc), Biology

Location of Photo: South Frontenac County, Ontario, Canada

Description of Photo: Algal blooms appear as smears of green slime from the ground, but are beautiful pieces of abstract art from an aerial view, painted by wind and sunlight. My research takes me to lakes on the Canadian Shield affected by blooms, where I photograph them with a drone while assistants help me collect water samples. By uncovering when, where, and why they appear, we hope to restore some of Canada’s most beautiful lakes to their pristine states.

Category: Best Description

[Aerial photograph of the Adelabu Market in Ibadan, Nigeria]

Under the Umbrella

Submitted by: Grace Adeniyi-Ogunyankin, Faculty, Gender Studies; Geography and Planning

Location of Photo: Ibadan, Nigeria

Description of Photo: On a very hot day, I went to the Adelabu Market in Ibadan, Nigeria, to meet Sarah. Several phone calls later, we found each other. She brought me inside a nearly abandoned plaza. “Less noisy,” she said. We climbed up to the highest floor. During the interview, she told me her livelihood as a market woman funded her children’s education. Rain or shine, she is at the market every day, under her umbrella. When we finished the interview, I looked down. What a view! As I snapped a photo, I wondered: “What are the stories of the other people under the umbrellas?”

Category: Art in Action

[Diffusion Spectrum Imaging (DSI) depicting diffusion of water throughout the brain]

The Wiring of the Brain

Submitted by: Donald Brien, Staff, Centre for Neuroscience Studies

Location of Photo: Centre for Neuroscience Studies, MRI Facility, Queen’s University

Description of Photo: An example of Diffusion Spectrum Imaging (DSI) from Queen’s new Prisma Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Some of the most beautiful images generated by MRI are created by imaging the diffusion (movement) of water throughout the brain. From this diffusion, we can generate maps of the neuron connections that are responsible for carrying messages from one area of the brain to another. Seen here, they are coded by direction, such that blue tracts move from foot to head, red tracts move from left to right in the head, and green tracts move from the front to the back of the head.  There are 30,000 tracts displayed in this image. By adulthood, the average person has ~160,000 km total length of these tracts.

Category: Community Collaborations

[A group of researchers collaborating in a space with mobile robots]

Researchers at Offroad Robotics

Submitted by: Heshan Fernando, Student (PhD), Mechanical and Materials Engineering

Location of Photo: Jackson Hall, Queen’s University

Description of Photo: A group of multidisciplinary engineering researchers with expertise in mining and construction applications, mechanical and mechatronics systems, as well as electrical and computer engineering collaborate to develop the next generation of field and mobile robots.

Category: People's Choice

[Researchers and community members travelling on snowmobiles]

Learning from the Land

Submitted by: Sarah Flisikowski, Student (MES), School of Environmental Studies

Location of Photo: Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories, Canada

Description of Photo: The transmission and documentation of traditional knowledge and skills is of great importance to Inuit, especially considering the continuing social, environmental, and economic changes in the Arctic. I am examining how Inuit traditional knowledge is generated and shared through a case study of an existing project in Ulukhaktok called Nunamin Illihakvia, which means "learning from the land" in Inuinnaqtun. Participants from other Inuvialuit communities were invited to travel to Ulukhaktok in February 2020 to participate in cultural activities that promoted discussion on what a cultural learning program should include. This photo shows our first trip out on Queen's Bay together.

KHGRI Prize

Sponsored by Kingston General Health Research Institute

[Patient care simulation depicting one researcher and one patient]

This is EPIC: Simulation Education with Patient Actors to Improve Care

Submitted by: Monakshi Sawhney, Faculty, School of Nursing

Location of Photo: Education and Research Centre, North York General Hospital, Toronto, Ontario

Description of Photo: Simulation education, using standardized patient actors, is a unique way to provide education in health care settings to practicing clinicians. It is an opportunity to practice assessment skills and critical thinking in a safe environment that mimics the patient care setting. Our team implemented this concept at a hospital in Toronto, with a focus on researching the outcomes of a simulation intervention for nurses who care for patients receiving epidural analgesia for pain management after surgery. This photograph depicts the real-to-life patient care environment that was created for this study.

Graduate Studies Prize

Sponsored by the School of Graduate Studies

[Fish eye lens photograph of Dog Lake]

Shattered Planet

Submitted by: Allen Tian, Student (MSc), Biology

Location of Photo: Milburn Bay, Dog Lake, South Frontenac County, Ontario, Canada

Description of Photo: The impact of human activity on our planet is often difficult to see in the moment, and requires a long-term, overlooking, view. This photo is a drone panorama of my field site on the Rideau Canal System, where I investigate the impact of human activity on aquatic ecosystems, particularly the development of toxic algal blooms. Activities such as fishing, property development and farming have fragmented and altered this ecosystem, and we need a holistic, broader view to piece together how we can protect our delicate, beautiful, world.

Innovation, Knowledge Mobilization, and Entrepreneurship Prize

Sponsored by Partnerships and Innovation

[Photograph of a leg being prepared for dynamic X-ray video]

Propelling Research

Submitted by: Lauren Welte, Student (PhD), Mechanical and Materials Engineering

Location of Photo: Skeletal Observation Laboratory, Queen’s University

Description of Photo: Our feet make contact with the ground millions of times within our lifetime, yet we still do not completely understand how they function. Using dynamic X-ray video, we image foot bones in ways we could only previously imagine.  Recent work has questioned several popular theories about soft tissue function in the arch. Ongoing research aims to understand healthy foot function, to better inform treatments for foot pain. This research has the capacity to propel our understanding of foot function forward.

Health Sciences Prize

Sponsored by the Faculty of Health Sciences

[Microscopic photo of cells within a brain region]

A Glance in the Brain

Submitted by: Natalia de Menezes Lyra e Silva, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Centre for Neuroscience Studies

Location of Photo: Centre for Neuroscience Studies, Queen’s University

Description of Photo: The primate brain is highly specialized, allowing us an incredible range of experiences. This microscopic photo captures cells within a brain region, the hippocampus, involved with learning and memory. Every lived experience that we are able to remember has boosted the formation of new connections in our brains. These connections are affected in diseases that impair memory, such as Alzheimer's disease (AD). Here, we can observe cells involved with the brain inflammatory response. These cells are upregulated in the brains of AD patients. This technique allows us to better understand how our brains work and how they are altered by diseases.

 

To learn more about this year’s winners and explore past winners and top submissions, visit The Art of Research Photo Gallery on the Research@Queen’s website.

Online learning course offered for free

Continuing Teacher Education utilizes expertise to help teachers and more to improve online learning.

Queen’s Continuing Teacher Education has been offering online professional development for teachers for more than 20 years. When schools and higher education institutions across the province quickly shifted to remote learning, the Continuing Teacher Education team began work to share some of their expertise on the subject.

The Tech Savvy Teacher is a free online course designed to introduce teachers, administrators, parents, and anyone who is interested, to a variety of digital tools that can be used immediately to enhance the learning experience.

The course is one of the many ways the Faculty of Education has been trying to give back to the educational community and support teachers and educators. The Faculty of Education has set up a teaching resources page and Continuing Teacher Education has been curating resources for social media and offering free course giveaways for practicing teachers.

“We know that this is a difficult time for all education professionals, and it is our goal to support the Education community,” says Barb Huffman, Director of Continuing Teacher Education . “Our hope is that this course and these resources will help support education professionals in this current situation and in the future.”

Not just for teachers

Though the course idea was originally designed for teachers in a K-12 setting, Continuing Teacher Education has adjusted it to fit the needs of anyone who is working in an education capacity.

“This course will be useful for teaching assistants, faculty members, course instructors or even students who are looking to improve their presentation skills,” says Huffman. “Around 150 people have already taken our course from all over the world, with varied backgrounds from elementary school teacher to engineer. We are working on two additional free courses that will further support designing for online learning and teaching online.

To learn more about the course and Continuing Teacher Education, visit their website.

Vote in the Art of Research photo contest

The Queen’s community has until June 3 to vote for the People’s Choice winner as the Art of Research celebrates its fifth year.

[Photo of a Renaissance statute - Art of Research Photo Contest]
Art of Research Winner 2016: Santa Fina – Submitted by Una D'Elia (Faculty, Art History and Art Conservation)

Have your say in promoting the beauty and creativity of research happening at Queen’s. Voting is now open for the People’s Choice category in the fifth annual Art of Research photo contest.

Hosted by the Office of the Vice-Principal (University Relations), the contest is an opportunity for researchers to mobilize their research and spark curiosity. By looking at research from a different perspective, it is possible to find the beauty and art in any project. More than 100 submissions were received this year from faculty, staff, students, and alumni representing multiple disciplines and research happening at all career stages.

Contest Prizes

The People’s Choice is one of the annual contest’s category prizes celebrating Community Collaborations, Invisible Discoveries, Out in the Field, Art in Action, and Best Caption. For the fifth anniversary of the contest, four special prizes were sponsored by Partnerships and Innovation, the School of Graduate Studies, the Faculty of Health Sciences, and Kingston General Hospital Research Institute. Images selected for the People’s Choice vote are entries that generated discussion and were shortlisted by the adjudication committee. All prizes come with a monetary prize of $500.

Cast Your Vote

The survey closes on June 3 at midnight. To learn more about past contest winners, visit the Research@Queen’s website.

2020 Art of Research Adjudication Committee

Amanda Gilbert, Communications Coordinator, Partnerships and Innovation

Amir Fam, Associate Dean (Research), Engineering and Applied Sciences

Betsy Donald, Associate Dean, Graduate Studies

Brenda Paul, Associate Vice-Principal (Integrated Communications)

Dave Rideout, Senior Communications Officer, Integrated Communications

Efkan Oguz, PhD Candidate, Department of Cultural Studies

Elizabeth Cooper, Communications Coordinator, Faculty of Health Sciences

Elliot Ferguson, Multimedia Journalist, The Kingston Whig Standard

Laila Haidarali, Associate Professor and Graduate Chair, Department of Gender Studies

Lavie Williams, Inclusion and Anti-Racism Advisor, Human Rights and Equity Office

Mary Anne Beaudette, Research Knowledge Mobilization Officer, KGH Research Institute

Mary Beth Gauthier, Communications Manager, Office of the Principal

Mona Rahman, Communications and Research Activities, Office of the VP (Research)

Tina Fisher, Director, Brand and Insights, Integrated Communications

Sandra den Otter, Associate Vice-Principal (Research and International)

Yolande Chan, Associate Dean (Research), Smith School of Business

[Photo of UV light train - Art of Research Photo Contest]
Art of Research Winner 2019: A New Light – Submitted by Robert Cichocki (PhD Student, Civil Engineering)

Celebrating graduates during COVID-19

Principal, Chancellor, and Rector share special video messages with the class of 2020 to mark important milestone.

 

Student waving Queen's flag.
Lists of conferred graduates will appear on the new Registrar web page over the coming weeks.

As public health officials continue to respond to COVID-19, the class of 2020 is marking their graduation under truly unprecedented circumstances. Since traditional convocation ceremonies have been delayed until safety guidelines permit, Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane, Chancellor Jim Leech, and Rector Sam Hiemstra, have shared special video messages of congratulations with graduates to mark this important milestone.

“This has been an amazing academic year, and I’ve thought a lot about the situation of our students bringing their careers to a close in what is an absolutely unprecedented set of circumstances,” says Principal Deane. “The big celebration with the robes, the music, and the applause – that will have to wait. In the meantime, congratulations! You have my deepest admiration, and best wishes for the future.”

The video messages have been shared as part of a new degree conferral and graduation activity webpage, which will also highlight evolving lists of graduates that will be added as they are conferred over the coming days and weeks. With in-person ceremonies postponed for an indeterminant period, many of the faculties are looking to celebrate graduates in a variety of virtual ways, and degrees will be mailed directly to them over the coming weeks. These activities will be highlighted on this page as they become available as well.

“We want to take this moment to congratulate you for completing your studies, and thus, earning your degrees, diplomas and certificates,” says Chancellor Leech. “You should be proud of your accomplishments, and that you are now a full-fledged member of Queen’s alumni.”

Planning is underway to offer in-person celebrations to ensure the university is ready to offer Spring 2020 graduates the experience they deserve, once conditions allow.

“During a traditional ceremony, we would soon gather outside of Ontario Hall, admiring the gardens and feeling the iconic Kingston warm breeze as we take photos and reminisce,” says Rector Hiemstra. “While that may not be happening today, from the bottom of my heart, I want you all to know that you are celebrated and valued.”

Learn more on the degree conferral and graduation activities webpage. Queen’s will update Spring 2020 graduates on planning for in-person ceremonies as pandemic response guidelines continue to evolve.

Supporting teachers with online education

Faculties of Education and Engineering and Applied Science share teaching resources webpage to help educators across Canada.

A teacher's desk with an apple, books, and letter blocks.
With students and teachers connecting from home, Queen's Faculty of Education has created a webpage to share a wide range of teaching resources. (Unsplash / Element 5) 

When the Government of Ontario made the decision to close elementary and secondary schools across the province to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on March 13, teachers and school boards were tasked with moving their programs online. While the required infrastructure was mostly available, resources to develop a quality online learning experience were in need.

Seeing an opportunity to share its teaching knowledge and expertise, the Faculty of Education at Queen’s University quickly created a teaching resources webpage to support teachers as they made the transition to remote learning.

The webpage has become a valuable resource hub for the teaching community, students, and parents during these unprecedented times.

“Creating a teaching resources page to share the knowledge and expertise in our faculty has been an idea we’ve been thinking about for awhile,” says Rebecca Luce-Kapler, Dean of the Faculty of Education. “When the schools closed and students, teachers, and families were suddenly learning from home, we knew right away that sharing our expertise would be an impactful way for us to support teachers and families.”

Sharing ideas

Dean Luce-Kapler reached out to the Faculty of Education community to share their ideas and immediately received a flood of responses from faculty members, instructors, teacher candidates, alumni, and the experienced online teachers from the Faculty’s Continuing Teacher Education unit.

The webpage is divided into five categories – STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), Arts and Literature, Indigenous, Geography, History and Social Sciences, and General – where teachers  and parents can access a variety of resources including activities, books, games, worksheets, videos, and more.

Teacher candidates pitch in

One particularly rich source of ideas is the Faculty of Education’s teacher candidates, who, as part of their studies, are asked to create lesson plans and resources that can be used when they enter their own classrooms. Highlights include the Art at Home videos by Nelligan Letourneau, and the Phases of the Moon video provided by Craig Harris.

“I am very proud of the efforts by all of those involved with this project,” says Dean Luce-Kapler. “Queen’s Faculty of Education has always supported teachers, through their time here as teacher candidates and as alumni. It is exciting to see this project be so well supported by our community.”

Adding resources

New resources are continually being added, such as the recent contribution from PHd student Hassina Alizai with resources and ideas for learning about Ramadan.

To contribute, contact Becca Carnevale, Director of Operations, Advancement and Communications, Faculty of Education.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Engineering engagement

The Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science’s outreach teams are creating online programs which are giving elementary and high school students at home opportunities to virtually participate in fun STEM activities, and teachers much-needed resources for keeping young minds engaged.

Aboriginal Access to Engineering (AAE) works with Indigenous students and their teachers at Six Nations, Tyendinaga and Akwesasne, as well as with local Indigenous family networks through the Limestone District School Board, providing hands-on outreach to students in all elementary grades.

The team has launched InSTEM@home, an online program that features content they have developed for their partner schools. Running until the end of June, the program lets elementary students participate in weekly design challenges, using common household materials, and to share those creations back with the instructional team for a chance to win weekly prizes. Guest appearances by Indigenous engineers also help relate content to the "real world" of engineering.

Parents can enroll their children even if they aren’t a student at one of AAE’s First Nation partner schools.

Building Connections

Connections provides a wide range of outreach programs, both on and off-campus. Along with the ‘Tech and Tinker’ trailer, a mobile engineering classroom that visits local schools, the Connections team runs a number of programs for students of all ages, including STEM workshops and clubs for girls, and a Summer Engineering Academy. They also provide valuable training for teacher candidates in the Faculty of Education.

In early May, the Connections team reached out to school contacts to offer them support while transitioning their students to online learning. The response was overwhelmingly positive and resources were sent out to 100 teachers in the Kingston area, who have since shared videos of completed student work.

The team will also be delivering workshops for 200 Faculty of Education students in June, and is planning a remote version of their Summer Engineering Academy, designed for students in grades 4 to 11.

Using self-regulation to help children deal with stress

Research shows that approximately 40 per cent of children struggle with attention, motivation, and impulsive behaviours at school.

Kristy Timmons, professor, Faculty of Education
Kristy Timmons, Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education, discusses self-regulation in kindergarten contexts during a recent presentation. (Supplied photo)

Children today face a vastly different educational experience than what most of us typically remember from our own childhood. Children as young as four and five years of age are experiencing extraordinarily high levels of stress, resulting in challenges at home and at school. Canadian research shows that approximately 40 per cent of children struggle with attention, motivation, and impulsive behaviours at school.

Kristy Timmons, Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education, is well aware of the current climate.

“The number of children experiencing these challenges is growing and behaviours are becoming more severe and presenting at a younger age,” she says.

As a result, teachers are spending an inordinate amount of time and resources on managing behavior which leaves less time to focus on classroom learning. In order to address this, educators and parents need to help children develop the skills to deal with both difficult and day-to-day situations.

“Without addressing the underlying factor of stress, efforts to work solely at the level of behaviour will be at best ineffective and at worst will exacerbate the child's challenges in regulating their emotions and behaviours,” Dr. Timmons says.

In the past, educators and parents addressed challenging behaviours of children reactively. Dr. Timmons’ research focuses instead on the ways educators and parents can support self-regulation proactively to combat what might appear to be behavior challenges but what is actually a stress reaction. These proactive strategies include working with young children to develop learning goals, coming up with strategies with children in advance so that the children have a strategy to pull from when needed. This also includes the use of contemplative practices (e.g., mindfulness and mediational based practices) as a tool to facilitate self-regulation skills in the early childhood classroom.

Important role of shared- and co-regulation

Her research emphasizes the important role of shared- and co-regulation. After all, “children learn self-regulation skills best through the modeling of regulation strategies by educators, parents and peers.” Through her research, Dr. Timmons continues to lead work in understanding processes that influence young children's' learning, engagement, and self-regulation, as well as educators’ and parents’ ability to support this.

She became aware of the misconceptions within the field of self-regulation including the limited understanding of how best to support self-regulation skills. This has become a driving force behind her research, prompting her to partner with numerous organizations to help improve understanding of self-regulation and self-regulated learning practices.

Listen to Dr. Timmons discuss self-regulation in the early years in her invited talk on the VoiceEd podcast.

One key partnership is with the Self-Regulation Institute (SRI), a charitable organization founded by Stuart Shanker, Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Psychology at York University. A partnership with the SRI will leverage cutting edge research on stress and the brain to better support young children’s self-regulation.

Dr. Timmons has also worked with researchers at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education to develop the Child Observation Framework, a tool to help researchers make meaningful observations about self-regulation behaviours.

She is currently working to adapt this framework so that it can be used by teachers and early childhood educators to assess self-regulation in play-based context.

Additional barriers

Dr. Timmons’ research also assists children who face additional barriers and those who work with them. She is currently working with The Kid’s Brain Health Network to conduct an objectives-based program evaluation of the Provincial Outreach Program for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (POPFASD). POPFASD is funded by the British Columbia Ministry of Education with the mandate of increasing educators' capacity to meet the educational needs of students with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

This research will provide important insight into how POPFASD is preparing educators to support students with FASD, and more broadly helping teachers across Canada to support these students.

Across her research, Dr. Timmons’ commitment to children’s health and learning is central. What also stands out is her ability to collaborate with academics, government, communities, and organizations to improve the experiences of Canadian children and to build the capacity of those who work with them.

Ready for a productive summer online

Enrolments are surging in popular online summer courses at Queen’s.

Photo of a person using a laptop.
Faculties have been adding new courses to meet the high demand for summer online learning at Queen's University.

Demand has never been higher for online summer courses at Queen’s University.

As many students have had their summer plans disrupted by the pandemic, they are turning to online courses in large numbers. And there is still time to enroll in a wide variety of courses, including options in the humanities, education, engineering, and health sciences.

Across the university, most faculties are reporting large increases in their summer online programs over last year. Compared to May 2019, the Faculty of Arts and Science has seen enrolments for Arts and Science Online rise by 50 per cent. They currently have over 9,000 enrolments across their courses and are expecting more for the July start date.

“The pandemic has made it challenging for many students to pursue their original plans for the summer. With our long track record of delivering first-rate online education, we are well-positioned to increase our course offerings and expand enrolment to help ensure that students have options. The extremely high levels of enrolment we are seeing is thanks in large part to the strong reputation of our online programs. It is also due to the fact that our courses are for-credit and may be applied to a student’s degree, regardless of whether they are Queen’s students or students at other institutions who are taking our courses for transfer credits,” says Barbara Crow, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science.

Increased demand for online courses across Queen’s

Arts and Science Online is not the only program seeing large spikes in enrolment. The Bachelor of Health Sciences (BHSc) has more than doubled its enrolment for summer online courses compared to last year. Currently, there are over 1,900 students enrolled in these classes. Recognizing the high demand, the BHSc has added six courses to its original set of offerings for the summer.

The Faculty of Law has raised the enrolment caps for some of their courses as well to respond to demand. Enrolments for Aboriginal Law have more than doubled compared to last year. And Introduction to Canadian Law has 210 students enrolled with a number of students on a waitlist, compared to 147 enrolments in 2019.

Over the last five years, the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science (FEAS) has seen sustained growth in its online summer courses. This summer that trend has accelerated. This spring term, FEAS has more than 775 enrolments in their online courses, which is more than 200 additional enrolments then they had in 2019.

Expanding course offerings in Education

Teachers and graduate students in education are also turning to Queen’s to develop their skills over the summer. The Faculty of Education has added courses to several different programs and seen unprecedented demand for all their offerings. They have added a new seven-week spring term to their Graduate Diploma in Professional Inquiry and Professional Master of Education programs. During this new term, they are offering nine courses, and all reached full enrolment shortly after registration opened.

The Faculty of Education also offers a number of Continuing Teacher Education (CTE) and Professional Studies courses. These have also seen strong surges in interest. Compared to their 2019 spring course enrollments, there are 1300 more students enrolled in Professional Studies and CTE courses this spring. One of the more popular courses this year is Teaching and Learning through e-Learning, which provides timely skills that can help teachers improve their remote instruction abilities.

Read more about how faculties are connecting students with online learning opportunities in this previous article in the Queen’s Gazette.

To learn more about summer online courses and enrolment, visit the faculty websites.

Music teaching app connects teachers and students from home

The Cadenza practice app developed at Queen’s is a growing hit with aspiring musicians in Canada and around the world during the COVID-19 crisis.

A girl practices playing a flute
For the Cadenza app, there has been a 10-fold increase in subscribers as a direct result of people staying at home due to COVID-19. (Supplied photo)

If you’ve been on social media since the COVID-19 crisis began, you’ve no doubt seen people busy making the most of their time at home by trying their hand at skills such as cooking, sewing, painting, and other hobbies.

You can add picking up a musical instrument to the mix. The Cadenza app was developed by Queen’s University researchers in collaboration with professors and developers at Concordia University and community partners and was launched late in 2019. It works by virtually linking a music teacher with a student, or group of students. There's been a 10-fold increase in subscribers as a direct result of people staying at home due to COVID-19.

“We’ve had new users from Italy, Switzerland, and Singapore since the pandemic began,” says Jodie Compeau, Project Manager for the Cadenza Community Project.

The greatest surge of users has come from the United Kingdom, followed by Canada and the United States.

“We work with a group in the UK called The Curious Piano Teachers,” says Compeau. “They advise us and have helped to get the word out by endorsing Cadenza as an effective music teaching platform.”

The web-based app, which represents a great example of research translated to social innovation, received funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), and was supported by the Queen’s Partnerships and Innovation team.

As of April, 250 teachers and 3,300 students have subscribed.

“We have teachers who have dozens of students, and schools have signed on that have lots of students, so the app really is becoming a popular tool,” says Rena Upitis, Professor of Education at Queen’s and principal investigator on the project.

The app was originally developed for students 12 years of age and older, but the creators have found students as young as six are using it.

“Since the pandemic, we’ve also noticed a number of adult learners are wanting to play again,” says Dr. Upitis. She also observed that, “When we first launched Cadenza we imagined it would be a 1:1 private teacher and student ratio. But group lessons are possible now. An instructor with 10 students can create a lesson and send it out to their students or add an attachment or annotate things.”

The app’s creators say one of the most surprising things they’ve experienced since launching the service was the sense of community that has emerged through the service.  

“It is a big adjustment to learn how to teach on a screen instead of face-to face. As a result, everyone supports one another,” says Compeau.

There is a graduating scale of payment, depending on the number of students, for this web-based app.

“We weren’t expecting to be in the black until mid- 2021. Any money we have generated is going back into the app to make it better,” says Dr. Upitis. “We’ve been getting great user feedback, and if we can, we make changes.”

The Cadenza team is setting its sights on breaking into the U.S. market and has just joined forces with SPARK at St. Lawrence College to come up with a marketing strategy.

Anyone can access the app at the Cadenza website.

The learning should never stop

More Confronting COVID-19 Stories

Queen’s University education expert Lynda Colgan has advice for parents now that schools have closed.

Two children use cellphones
Queen’s University researcher Lynda Colgan says maintain a daily learning routine is important for children (Unsplash / McKaela Lee)

With schools closed for at least the next three weeks, Queen’s University researcher Lynda Colgan says it’s critical for parents and guardians to continue to keep young people engaged through informal learning opportunities.  This will help them to feel more positive and prepared about returning to the classroom, when school is back in session.

“We know there is evidence of a ‘summer slide,’ which teachers have to work through in the fall. Some researchers suggest that in mathematics, children lose about 2.6 months of learning over the summer vacation. This situation is really no different,” says Dr. Colgan, who has been an educator for more than 30 years. “Routines have gone out the window, but we need to keep learning a daily routine and there are lots of ways to do that and keep it fun at the same time.”

Both locally and on a provincial level, there are a lot of learning opportunities available. Dr. Colgan says there are many free resources online for both younger learners and those at more advanced education levels. Locally, Science Rendezvous Kingston (@STEMygk) is tweeting new activities daily including bird watching, creating green cleaning products in your own kitchen, building a bottle rocket, and is supporting a Lego building challenge from @WAFFLESRobotics.

On a provincial level, organizations like Discover the Universe are offering online astronomy courses while Reading Rockets has a wide range of information for parents and unique activities for children. PopSugar is also sponsoring daily book readings by popular authors. Young people interested in history and science can visit the American Museum of Natural History for videos about dinosaurs and fossils.

“We are trying to do our best locally and I’ve personally been tweeting an activity every day,” says Dr. Colgan. “For me, it’s important have children reading and also doing some other kind of educational activity on a daily basis. This could include cooking with the family, which involves reading recipes and measuring ingredients. We know anxiety is increasing in children as the adults in their worlds are becoming increasingly stressed. Family activities like these are essential, educational, and reinforce the importance of human connection especially at a time like this”

Dr. Colgan, who has taught at all levels of public education in Ontario and is a leading researcher in elementary mathematics education, also addresses the increasing number of “education” videos popping up on social media channels as well as via workbooks and flashcard sets available in stores. She says worksheets do not often result in meaningful learning and many videos not only lack instructional quality, they contain content and strategies that are misleading at best, and wrong at worst. It is important to use websites, videos and on-line tutorials that are developed and recommended by educators.

“The most important message is that learning at home should not generate anxiety on the part of parents or children. Learning at home should be more about instilling the attitude that the world is our classroom and that we can acquire new skills and interests simply through everyday actions more than being about meeting formal curriculum goals,” she adds. “Instead of playing video games, why not read a book online instead, or to reduce children’s screen time, try planting some vegetable seeds and measuring their growth or playing games like UNO and Quiddler. Learning, especially learning that is fun because it is achieved through alternative methods like kitchen-sink science and word games, will be engaging and most importantly, memorable.

For more even more resources visit the Queen’s University Faculty of Education’s Resources for Parents and Teachers website.

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