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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.

Science outreach wins national award

Science Rendezvous Kingston is recognized for inviting the community to a world-class science festival featuring Queen's researchers.

  • Photo of Lynda Colgan and Kim Garrett receiving the STEAM Big! Award from Katie Miller and Dwayne Miller
    Lynda Colgan and Kim Garrett accepted the STEAM Big! Award for Science Rendezvous Kingston. From left: Dr. Colgan, Katie Miller, Garrett, and Dwayne Miller. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
  • Photo of Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane giving remarks during the ceremony.
    Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane spoke about the important forum that Science Rendezvous Kingston provides for Queen's to reach out to the community. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
  • Photo of Mayor Bryan Paterson addressing the attendees
    Mayor Bryan Paterson gave remarks about the positive role that Science Rendezvous Kingston plays in the community. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
  • Photo of Dean Rebecca Luce-Kapler speaking during the event.
    Rebecca Luce-Kapler, Dean of the Queen's Faculty of Education, congratulated Science Rendezvous Kingston for the success of their educational outreach work. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
  • Photo of a large team of Science Rendezvous Kingston participants standing with the award.
    Lynda Colgan and Kim Garrett invited volunteers and participants from Science Rendezvous Kingston to share the stage with them. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)

Science Rendezvous Kingston put on one of the largest and most successful Science Rendezvous events in Canada in 2019, attracting over 5,200 visitors. For this work, they were presented with the inaugural STEAM Big! Award from Science Rendezvous Canada at a ceremony in the Agnes Etherington Art Centre on March 3.

The STEAM Big! Award was created to recognize an outstanding Science Rendezvous event. The board of directors and members of Science Rendezvous Canada chose Science Rendezvous Kingston for developing “an event that went above and beyond, creating a truly world class science festival that successfully ignited an interest in science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM), in their community,” according to a statement from the organization. The 2019 event was the ninth for Science Rendezvous Kingston, and it has grown every year. 

“It is so important that Queen’s has a strong relationship with our community and that we create forums where we can share and celebrate educational partnerships. Science Rendezvous provides an exceptional forum for this fundamental outreach. The STEAM Big! Award is a very well-deserved honour,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane.

Presenting the award

Both Katie Miller and Dwayne Miller – Executive Director and Founder & Chair of Science Rendezvous respectively – were in Kingston to present the award. Bryan Paterson, Mayor of Kingston, and Alejandro Adem, President of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) were also on hand to congratulate the winners. From Queen’s, Principal Deane and Rebecca Luce-Kapler, Dean of the Faculty of Education, gave remarks, while a video message from MP Mark Gerretsen was played.

Lynda Colgan, Professor in the Queen’s Faculty of Education, and Kim Garrett, co-organizers of Science Rendezvous Kingston were present to accept the national honour.

“The STEAM BIG award is attributable to the long-term enthusiastic actions of the 450 volunteers who represent a diverse continuum from high school students to Canada Research Chairs. The dedication and generosity of these faculty members, physicians, citizen scientists, and community organizations cannot be understated. Science Rendezvous Kingston would like to express our appreciation to them and share this award with them on behalf of our Kingston community,” says Dr. Colgan.

Hosted at the Leon’s Centre, the day featured three headline events. Attendees had an opportunity to meet Astronaut Drew Feustel (PhD’95, DSc’16), former commander of the International Space Station and Queen’s alumnus at the Ask an Astronaut Q&A. Upon entering the event space, visitors were greeted by Dippy the dinosaur, a casting of a Diplodocus standing over four metres high and 26 metres long. There was also an opportunity to learn about bee health and pollination with the Limestone Beekeepers’ Guild as they demonstrated a working beehive.

Queen's researchers get involved

About 75 per cent of the researchers exhibiting at Science Rendezvous Kingston were Queen’s affiliated. Some of the highlights of the free, family-oriented event included hands-on exhibits from Queen’s Anatomy, Hexagon Magic Puzzles, the Art of Research pop-up photo exhibit, demonstrations from Ingenuity Labs, and the Chemistry Magic Show.

Science Rendezvous Kingston is supported by the Office of the Vice-Principal (Research) at Queen’s, the Queen’s Faculty of Education, the Mathematics, Science and Technology Education Group, University Relations, NSERC, and Science Odyssey. It is also made possible by many sponsors, including the City of Kingston, Leon’s Furniture Kingston, Rogers Media, visitkingston.ca, Utilities Kingston, and Research Casting International.

Science Rendezvous Kingston 2020 will take place on Saturday, May 9 and will give the Kingston community the chance to meet with scientists and learn about the possibilities of science, technology, engineering, and math. Learn more about Science Rendezvous on their website.

Beautifully set, ‘The Two Popes’ omissions leave me with a taste of exclusion

The Two Popes by Netflix
Sir Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce star in ‘The Two Popes.’ (Netflix) 

The Two Popes provides a creative dialogue about God, faith and moral responsibility. The film is a fictionalized encounter between German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, and Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Bergoglio was elected after Benedict’s resignation in 2013, becoming the current Pope Francis.

The ConversationThe appeal of the Oscar-nominated film has to do with the human touch, and with the substantive global character of the Catholic Church.

As a native of Argentina, I have a special connection with this film. I am also a professor of history of education at Queen’s University, and my research focuses on Catholic social thinking, education and the state and women’s religious orders devoted to teaching. I also study the intellectual history of education including the ideas of critical writer, essayist and priest Ivan Illich, and Brazilian Catholic educator Paulo Freire, a key figure in the popular education movement.

My interest in this film lies in how it uncovers the theological currents underlying the institutional church, as well as in the film’s silences.

Divergent currents

The film’s narration conveys with great artistry a conversation that confronts two (of many) divergent currents in the Catholic Church: a reformist one, and a conservative one that retains the anti-modernist tones of the church before what Catholics know as Vatican II (1962-65). This church council represented an attempt to attune the Catholic Church with social and cultural changes in the 20th century.

In the early 1970s, Latin American theologians developed liberation theology, a perspective that emerged from people’s experience of oppression in Latin America. This theology would nourish the movement of popular education in the 1970s and early 1980s with a strong grassroots foundation. Cardinal Ratzinger was active in undermining liberation theology.

The film references the rise of Pope Francis’s religious call and his commitment to the poor. A montage shows the times of repression in Argentina (1976-83) which overlapped with Bergoglio’s time serving as superior of the Jesuits in Argentina and Uruguay (1973-79).

When Bergoglio served in this role, as shown in the film, two Jesuit priests were kidnapped by the military. Bergoglio’s Jesuit community later sends him into exile in Cordoba. The film suggests Bergoglio was tormented by his failure to protect the priests. It also alludes to the “interior crisis” that Pope Francis has said he experienced in Cordoba.

It is not surprising that in the film, Bergoglio, seen sometime after the March 1976 coup in Argentina, appears to be throwing books away from the Jesuit library such as by Brazilian Archbishop Dom Hélder Cȃmara (1909–99) and by Italian Marxist philosopher and thinker Antonio Gramsci. Cȃmara, while very involved in social action, was also critical of the hierarchical bureaucratic structure of the church and its separation from workers and the poor. These would have been among books that the Latin American left read at the time.

Later, Bergoglio was one of the architects of what is known as the Aparecida document. This 2007 document articulated a church committed to the poor in light of a relationship between God’s kingdom and the dignity of human beings.

Walk in the garden

The plot begins with Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio’s desire to submit his resignation to Pope Benedict XVI, given the expected age of retirement. The two men meet at the Palace of Castel Gandolfo and talk about God and the church.

The next day, they go to the Vatican by helicopter. Here, the film takes some historical liberties such as when Benedict indicates his intention to resign and a plan for Bergoglio as the new pope, given the need for change.

The dialogue reconstructing their positions and their pasts is beautifully set in the garden of the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo and later in the Sistine Chapel.

One could forget for a moment a line from Ivan Illich: “The Roman Church is the world’s largest non-governmental bureaucracy.” One could also forget the institutional church’s hierarchical and authoritarian structure, very much out of tune with a world concerned with rights and identity.

Sins of the church

Pope Benedict voices the sins of the church in the form of a confession. The film acknowledges sexual abuse and also financial scandals.

The Conversation is seeking new academic contributors. Researchers wishing to write articles should contact Melinda Knox, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca.

But the conflicted souls of many Catholics, who face the sins of the institution — including the exclusion of women from ordination, the church’s opposition to gay marriage, divorce, contraception and so on — are bracketed in silence.

One of the voices that does not come through is that of feminist theologians and prophetic feminist visions. These theologians offer a powerful line of thought that embraces social justice and the environment, as well as one that sees gender, class and race as significant lenses.

My own research on women’s religious communities has documented congregations’ attempts to rebuild their individual and collective identity following Vatican II reforms and changes in the long 1960s.

I have come across powerful statements, for example, from the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions/Religieuses De Notre Dame des Missions, about the sisters’ own way of living social justice as women, and their critique of coloniality and of western cosmology in their own building of an eco-spirituality.

At these sisters’ general gathering in Rome in 1996, they wrote:

We recognize the struggle and hold the pain of those oppressed by the institutional church, and … we too may find ourselves in situations of tension with the hierarchy.”

Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions in front of St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome.
Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions in front of St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome. (Rosa Bruno-Jofré)

Toward the world

Vatican II set the stage for openness toward change and the world, and was resisted by many, including Ratzinger. Many changes took place mostly outside the Vatican walls and started before Vatican II.

The work of Brazilian Catholic educator Paulo Freire, whose book Bergoglio is shown reading in one scene, for example, marked a turning point in how critical-minded educators in Latin America approached adult education projects — and how they understood the sources of authoritative knowledge. This turning point was rooted in cultural and social movements taking place in Latin America. Freire’s theory and method reflected the language of justice and liberation of a radicalized Catholic social imaginary of the 1960s and 1970s in Latin America.

Still, Vatican II did not touch central issues that now have become imperative if the church does not want to be examined as a residual institution of the past.

Today, church leaders have not moved toward a democratization of the church as an inclusive institution, and continue with an authoritarian line. This is the case even as a degree of internal change is happening and even as Pope Francis, as portrayed in the film, has a commitment to the poor and social transformation.

Overall, the film’s omissions left me with a taste of exclusion, a sense of the need for a renaissance. I simply could not locate my spiritual soul in the red sea of well-rounded men set in choreographed rituals deciding the future of the church.The Conversation


Rosa Bruno-Jofre is a Professor and former Dean (2000–2010) of the Faculty of Education, cross-appointed to the Department of History, Faculty of Arts and Science, at Queen’s University.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

A Finnish phenomenon: Where students learn how to ask, not only answer, questions


Kid with an axe across lap
Chopping wood and making paper airplanes are activities children might pursue in a class that takes a phenomenon-based approach to the question: How would we respond to a loss of electricity? (Photo by Annie Spratt / Unsplash)

All four teacher unions in Ontario are in the midst of labour unrest.

Teachers in Ontario have long had the right to strike, and when the province threatened this right in 2012, the courts upheld it.

While the list of particular negotiating points between the government and the four unions depends on the situation, there are common priorities: funding, class sizes, job security and salary.

When we examine the past 20 years of education strife in Ontario, it’s clear that labour unrest has become a response to a wider failure to adequately invest both financially and imaginatively in schooling.

Playing politics with schools is not an anomaly, it has become the norm. It is exhausting, particularly for the province’s public educators, parents and students.

The Conversation is seeking new academic contributors. Researchers wishing to write articles should contact Melinda Knox, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca.

Perhaps it’s time for Ontario residents to look elsewhere. We have had to imagine and invent the kinds of schools we wanted in the past. We can always re-imagine them.

What about Finland? What can we learn from a place where the government is led by Sanna Marin, a 34-year-old woman with new ideas about old institutions?

Recently, I was welcomed into Helsinki schools to observe and learn about what the Finns call “phenomenon-based learning” — a philosophy that supports their schooling.

Finland has been on the radar of international educators for nearly a decade for various reasons, including high rankings in the international game of right answers (also known as the Program for International Student Assessment or PISA) and a well-defined international marketing plan for Finnish educational ideas. The world is increasingly aware of the pride Finnish people have in education.

Finland is one of the top global investors in education, spending a larger fraction of its GDP on education than Canada.

The Roihuvuori Comprehensive School, Lower Stage (grades 1-6), in Helsinki, Finland, is in a large building with skylights that houses a wood and metal shop. (Author provided)

Phenomenon-based learning

Phenomenon-based learning is a distinctly Finnish approach to inquiry learning in schools. It means leading students to ask big questions that don’t have easy answers.

Labour action, as an example, could be a phenomenon that would keep most students engaged for many months.

It’s also a brand, because it’s marketed as a distinctly Finnish approach rooted in the Finnish context.

Books on phenomenon-based learning can be found in tourist shops and on display during Helsinki Education Week, and programs have been promoted as part of Finland’s educational reforms. This branding is intentional and explicit, which is refreshing in the marketplace of ideas in which we live.

Ontario, too, has inquiry linked into its curricula, notably in social studies and history. Ontario’s students are familiar with science projects or social studies units, but in Finland, inquiry is all encompassing. It requires students to step outside of subjects to ask broader questions that aren’t limited to what needs to be covered in the curriculum.

Chopping wood at school

On my trip, during a visit to a third-grade classroom, all the students were engaged with a particular phenomenon: How would we respond to a loss of electricity?

Children were chopping wood, deciding how to divide resources and making paper airplanes.

Where would such an approach come from? Academics like me are trained to look for the ways that research affects practice in education.

The ideas of John Dewey have influenced Finnish education, as outlined by Finnish educator and researcher Pasi Sahlberg. Dewey was an influential 20th century American philosopher who is often associated with democratic living and engagement in meaningful activities in schools.

Sahlberg writes that “Dewey’s philosophy of education forms a foundation for academic, research-based teacher education in Finland.”

Children explore the first day of snow outside their school building on wooded lands at the Roihuvuori Comprehensive School, Helsinki, Finland. (Author provided)

In the class I was visiting, I was curious to know what or how the teacher thought about Dewey. But the notion that he had impacted Finnish education didn’t resonate for her and she said phenomenon learning is a Finnish idea.

Her response suggests that whatever aspect Dewey contributed has indeed become a Finnish approach in its own right.

Education more than schooling

I asked a group of three girls in an upper secondary classroom (roughly, Grade 11) if they felt educated.

“We know that our schools are impressive. You came all the way from Canada to talk to us about our learning. But you did not come across the world to talk about small things, right?”

She was correct. I was interested in getting outside of my own context to see what was possible. I was a host in a class focused on entrepreneurship, where the students’ phenomena were start-up businesses that integrated their learning and applied it to the real world of commerce.

“Yes, we feel educated. Sometimes we learn in the school. Doing phenomena like this. We also have classes in history and mathematics. But we also learn during our breaks, talking to each other. School plays a role in our education, but it is not only school that educates us.”

Finnish schools are also affected by labour action. Recently, 20,000 children had to eat cold meals as service sector strikes made it difficult for them to have their warm meals served as per custom in early childhood settings.

Schooling and education

Why should Canadians pay attention to education elsewhere? Even in our own provinces, it is a challenge to understand the intricacies of schooling elsewhere across the country.

Schools are not fixed, nor are their structures. We have made them up and we can change them. And we should not confuse schooling with education.

Travel, through books or via other means, enriches our view of the world and our place within it.

Everyone with something at stake in Ontario’s schools ought to ask: “What is an education for, anyway?” The questions we ask colour the way we look at our own schools and our educational investments.

_______________________________________________________________________________The Conversation

Theodore Christou is a Professor of Social Studies and History Education, and the Associate Dean, Graduate Studies and Research, Faculty of Education at Queen's University.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Capturing the Art of Research

Celebrating its fifth year, the Art of Research photo contest is open for submissions until March 12.

  • "Love Under the Microscope" by Dalila Villalobos, MD, Resident (Anatomical Pathology)
    "Love Under the Microscope" by Dalila Villalobos, MD, Resident (Anatomical Pathology)
  • "Santa Fina" by Una D'Elia, Faculty (Art History and Art Conservation)
    "Santa Fina" by Una D'Elia, Faculty (Art History and Art Conservation)
  • "A New Light" by Robert Cichocki, PhD Student (Civil Engineering)
    "A New Light" by Robert Cichocki, PhD Student (Civil Engineering)
  • "Window on a Window to the Universe" by Mark Chen, Faculty (Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy)
    "Window on a Window to the Universe" by Mark Chen, Faculty (Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy)
  • "Platinum Surface Electrochemistry" by Derek Esau, PhD Student (Chemistry)
    "Platinum Surface Electrochemistry" by Derek Esau, PhD Student (Chemistry)
  • "Keep Cool Boy - The Jets Aloft in West Side Story" by Tim Fort, Faculty (Dan School of Drama and Music)
    "Keep Cool Boy - The Jets Aloft in West Side Story" by Tim Fort, Faculty (Dan School of Drama and Music)
  • "Nano-dendrite Collision" by Hannah Dies, MD/PhD Student (Chemical Engineering)
    "Nano-dendrite Collision" by Hannah Dies, MD/PhD Student (Chemical Engineering)
  • "Exploring Worlds at Home" by James Xie, Undergraduate Student (Engineering Chemistry)
    "Exploring Worlds at Home" by James Xie, Undergraduate Student (Engineering Chemistry)

Researchers … ready your cameras. Returning for its fifth year, the Art of Research photo contest is looking to celebrate and creatively capture the research conducted by the Queen’s community.

Did you know that the university recently launched a new central website for Queen’s research? From in-depth features to the latest information on the university’s researchers, the site is a destination showcasing the impact of Queen’s research. Discover Research@Queen’s.

Hosted by the Office of the Vice-Principal (University Relations) and open to Queen’s faculty, staff, students, and alumni, the Art of Research provides a unique and accessible method of sharing ground-breaking research happening at the university. It also represents the diversity of Queen’s research, with winners representing multiple disciplines and submissions highlighting research happening at all career stages.

The contest is an opportunity for researchers to mobilize their research and spark curiosity. Visuals can create a more compelling and accessible research narrative. By looking at research from a different perspective, it is possible to find the beauty and art in any project.

Eligibility and Prizes

Any current Queen’s faculty, staff, student, or alumni are eligible to participate. Research depicted in the submissions must have been completed at Queen’s or while the submitter was affiliated with the university. More information about contest rules can be found on the Research@Queen’s website.

In addition to promotion across institutional channels and platforms, prizes of $500 will be awarded for the top submission in each of these categories:

Category Prizes

  • Community Collaborations: Research that partners with or supports communities or groups
  • Invisible Discoveries: Research unseen by the naked eye, hiding in plain sight, or only visible by using alternative methods of perception
  • Out in the Field: Research where it occurs, is documented, or discovered
  • Art in Action Prize: Research that is aesthetically or artistically transformed or research in motion as it happens
  • Best Description: To recognize the most creative and accessible description for an image
  • People’s Choice: Determined by an online vote by members of the Queen’s community

In honour of the fifth anniversary of the Art of Research photo contest, four special prizes of $500 each will be awarded to celebrate the diversity of research happening across the university.

  • The Innovation, Knowledge Mobilization, and Entrepreneurship Prize will be awarded to the submission that best demonstrates research that encompasses a spirit of the applied practices of innovation, entrepreneurship, and knowledge mobilization. (Sponsored by Partnerships and Innovation)
  • The Graduate Studies Prize will be awarded to the image submitted by a Queen’s graduate student or post-doctoral fellow that best embodies the School of Graduate Studies’ motto “Create an Impact.” (Sponsored by the School of Graduate Studies)
  • The Health Sciences Prize will be awarded to the image that best represents the Faculty’s mission of “ask questions, seek answers, advance care, and inspire change.” (Sponsored by the Faculty of Health Sciences)
  • The KGHRI Prize will be awarded to the image that best represents patient-oriented and clinical research. (Sponsored by Kingston General Health Research Institute (KGHRI))

The contest closes on March 12, 2020. The submission form can be found here and winning images from previous competitions are located on the Research@Queen’s website

International collaboration looks at the future of teaching

Participants in the first CANOPY meeting
CANOPY, an international collaboration between the Queen's Faculty of Education and Nord University in Norway, held its first meeting Jan. 13-14 to discuss educational leadership. (Supplied Photo)

The Faculty of Education at Queen’s University recently launched a new partnership with Norway’s Nord University, with a focus on better preparing the teachers of the future.

Concurrent education students, faculty members, Dean Rebecca Luce-Kapler, and Paul Valle, Superintendent of Schools with the York Region District School Board, met with counterparts from Nord University on Jan. 13-14 to discuss educational leadership.

Rebecca Luce-Kapler speaks
Rebecca Luce-Kapler, Dean of the Faculty of Education at Queen's University, welcomes the members of the CANOPY partnership during the inaugural meeting. (Supplied photo)

This collaboration is part of the Canada-Norway Pedagogy Partnership for Innovation and Inclusion in Education (CANOPY), a four-year partnership funded by the Norwegian Agency for International Cooperation and Quality Enhancement in Higher Education (DIKU)’s NOTED program.

This partnership aims to address, from a holistic and international perspective, the most pressing issues currently facing the education sector to better prepare the next generation of teachers. Connecting educational research, classroom experience, student mobility, and institutional management, CANOPY will develop global competencies in pedagogy, research, and training through international collaboration.

Over the course of the two days, each member presented a half-hour session to learn about the similarities and differences between education in Norway and Canada.

“Having education students, faculty members, people who work in school boards and senior administrators of the Faculty of Education from two different countries be part of the same group created a dynamic environment full of exciting possibilities for future collaborations and wonderful ideas that each of us will be taking away with us in our practice,” says Dr. Luce-Kapler.

The group will meet again in Norway in May to further establish valuable relationships and research possibilities.

Innovation and inclusion are the guiding principals of CANOPY, and the initiatives of each year of the project will focus on a different priority area:
2020: Educational Leadership
2021: Digital Innovation and Educational Technology
2022: Indigenous Studies, Diversity, and Inclusion
2023: Exceptional Learners

To find out more about this exciting new partnership, please visit the CANOPY website

New internal funding for research

Queen's Vice-Principal (Research) launches Wicked Ideas Competition.

Wicked problems are issues so complex and dependent on so many factors that it is hard to grasp what exactly the problems are or how to tackle them. Wicked ideas are needed to solve these problems, and demand the input of multiple disciplines, multiple perspectives, and relevant practical expertise.

The Vice-Principal (Research) has launched the Wicked Ideas competition as a pilot initiative to fund and support research collaborations that respond to local, national, and global challenges. Aligned with the concept of the Government of Canada’s New Frontiers in Research Fund – Exploration program, the competition “seeks to inspire projects that bring disciplines together beyond traditional disciplinary or common interdisciplinary approaches by research teams with the capacity to explore something new, which might fail but has the potential for significant impact.” Along with both disciplinary and interdisciplinary funding streams, the competition offers a “global challenge” stream, featuring climate change as a global challenge area.  Teams of researchers are invited to submit notices of intent by Feb. 3, 2020.

“This funding is designed to remove some of the financial barriers to high-risk, high-reward research, allowing scholars to push the boundaries of knowledge into uncharted territory,” says Dr. Kent Novakowski, Acting Vice-Principal (Research). “I greatly look forward to hearing about some of the paradigm-shifting ideas that come out of this new exploratory opportunity.”

Up to 15 teams will be awarded $75,000 each in the first phase of the competition in spring 2020. The 15 teams then will be eligible to compete for one of an additional five awards of up to $150,000 in the 2021 Wicked Ideas competition. The competition is open to all Queen's faculty across all disciplines. Co-investigators and team members also must be Queen's faculty members.

This is just one of several internal funding programs that have been launched by the Vice-Principal (Research) recently.  Other programs include the Queen’s Research Opportunities Fund (QROF) Post-doctoral Fund, as well as the Catalyst Fund – designed to enhance areas of research excellence by giving scholars an opportunity to accelerate their research programs.

A revised Prizes for Excellence in Research competition, which has recognized scholarly achievement at Queen’s since 1980, is set to launch soon.

More information about all of these programs, including terms of reference, is available on the Vice-Principal (Research) website.

Hitting all the right notes

Queen's Faculty of Education unveils Cadenza Practice App, a new digital tool that helps students grow and blossom as musicians.

Through the Cadenza Practice App piano teachers and students can collaboratively plan each practice week and assign homework.

The weekly piano lesson, with no meaningful communication with the teacher between lessons, may soon be a thing of the past thanks to a new digital tool unveiled at the Faculty of Education at Queen’s University.

The Cadenza practice app, developed by Queen’s researchers in collaboration with researchers at Concordia and community partners, is a digital tool created to support music learning in studios, ensembles, and classrooms. The app incorporates several unique tools designed to help motivate music students to keep up with their studies, including a digital planner, online lesson assignments, an interactive notebook and a media annotation feedback tool.

Using the online tool, teachers and students can collaboratively plan each practice week and assign homework. Students can track their progress throughout the week, and parents can check their child’s progress.

The idea behind Cadenza was to develop a digital app to support students between lessons, motivating students to practice during the week and to stick with their musical studies. The research team was established over a decade ago and large-scale studies involving close to 20,000 participants were undertaken to see what students, teachers, and parents most needed. Smaller scale studies were also carried out where music studio teachers and their students were interviewed and followed for a number of years. Teacher and student advisors were also involved in developing the app and interpreting research results.

The project, which represents a great example of research translated to social innovation, received funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Canada Foundation for Innovation. The project also includes partners in Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom, with the goal of encouraging individual studio teachers and classroom music teachers to use Cadenza.

“What a privilege to see research turned into practice. There’s nothing more fulfilling than to see a young student using Cadenza, growing in musical skills and blossoming as a musician. After all, it’s not about falling in love with an app — it’s about falling in love with music,” says Rena Upitis, professor of Education at Queen’s and principal investigator on the project

The app makes it fast and efficient for teachers to plan lessons, assign homework, and provide feedback between lessons. The software also includes an annotation feature where students or teachers can add a written comment to a recorded video clip. Students are encouraged to reflect on their practice session and parents can check on their child’s progress.

“Knowledge mobilization programs are not limited to the traditional STEM disciplines,” says Kimberly Woodhouse, Vice-Principal (Research). “The Cadenza Community Project is an outstanding example of an important social innovation initiative based on pedagogical research. Queen’s is pleased to have support this important project. Congratulations to the Cadenza Community team members on the formal launch of this project.”

Incubating within the Faculty of Education, the Cadenza Community Project recently celebrated the formal launch at a reception held at Duncan McArthur Hall on December 2.  Now that the app is formally launched, the Cadenza team is seeking partnerships with music schools and organizations to identify teams of teacher users. Meanwhile, anyone can access the app at cadenzapracticeapp.com.

Research @ Queen’s: Empowerment through revitalization

Lindsay Morcom, Canada Research Chair in Language Revitalization and Decolonizing Education, has focused her research on the revitalization of Indigenous language and culture.

[Original image of two Indigenous speaking with plants blooming out of their mouths]
Illustration by Chief Lady Bird

“To do Indigenous research well, regardless of your heritage, you should never go in and tell the community what to do. Instead, you go in and you listen, and then you ask them what they want.”

Lindsay Morcom

Research at Queen's
Did you know that the university recently launched a new central website for Queen’s research? From in-depth features to the latest information on the university’s researchers, the site is a destination showcasing the impact of Queen’s research. Discover Research at Queen’s.

Lindsay Morcom (Education) thinks of the various aspects of her research as being like three strands of sweet grass braided together. “They’re three different streams, but closely connected,” she says, explaining that each explores an aspect of Indigenized education and reconciliation. “We can’t have one without the other.”

Since joining the Faculty of Education as an assistant professor in 2013, Dr. Morcom, who is also the coordinator of the Aboriginal Teacher Education program (ATEP) at Queen’s and a Canada Research Chair in Language Revitalization and Decolonizing Education, has focused her attention on the revitalization of Indigenous language and culture.

Continue the article on the Research at Queen’s website.


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