Eduvation Blog

Circling Back: Weekly Highlights

Good morning, and TGIF!

Today is “International Day to Protect Education from Attack” – so really, can we pay attention to anything else? If you have a little more mental bandwidth, today is also a day to Stand Up to Cancer, and to celebrate Sudoku and Teddy Bears, Wienerschnitzel and Wonderful Weirdos. (I never can resist alliteration…)

No doubt you’ve had a hectic couple of weeks, as I have, and the last thing you want to contemplate is joining a new social platform, no matter how cool. I get it: the migration to Eduvation Circles will take some people a little time. Of course, with hundreds of your colleagues and peers already aboard (and in some cases your presidents or VPs), the longer you wait the less “forward-looking” you’ll appear…

I’ll continue reaching out to you with this old-school newsletter from time to time, to ensure you get some kind of heads-up about emerging trends, analysis and discussion that’s happening there. It won’t be customizable, and it won’t be real-time, but it’s a halfway measure to ease the transition.

I will also likely try to provide a consistent weekly summary of what you’ve missed on Circles…



This Week in Circles

A little over a week ago, I summarized the activity on Eduvation Circles in its first week (see “Discover What’s Next” from Sept 1). There have been hundreds of posts, polls, comments and interactions since then, but here are a handful of highlights…

Mask and Vax Mandates

Of course, I shared my roundup of CdnPSE mask and vax policies for Fall term with you in this newsletter yesterday, but on Circles, members saw the work in progress, weighed in, and of course saw the finished result first!

Graphs of the Day

Every day, I come across thought-provoking data in a whole range of places. I’ve been sharing the most arresting graphs in a feature I call the “Graph of the Day.” Several this week came from HESA’s State of CdnPSE report, including the disappointing level of Canadian R&D spending (last in the OECD), and the decline in net tuition since 2016. I also shared food for thought from HEQCO’s new survey of Ontario college applicants, showing the rise of mature learners, and their newfound openness to online learning. (It was also notable, however, that traditional-aged students were split down the middle about it.)

Headline News

I continue to monitor a dozen PSE publications, and hundreds of mainstream media outlets, every day – but there aren’t actually all that many stories that seem genuinely interesting.


This week I shared Cambrian’s work with NSS Canada on a Hololens AR system for remotely placing explosives at underground mine faces.


And of course, it’s hard to ignore the end of an era: the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. She was on the throne when I was born in London England, and when I came back to visit as a schoolboy. She visited this other London (Ontario) when I was 10, and 26, and 34. Throughout my life, hers has been the only royal face on Canadian currency or postage, and she has endorsed everything from Royal Doulton china to Cadbury milk chocolate. HRH Elizabeth’s reign also provided Britain with 70 years of continuity and stability through wartime, pandemic, Brexit and countless royal scandals. It’s hard to imagine King Charles III will provide anything similar, as the world navigates the lingering geopolitical and economic repercussions of COVID19, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, inflation and recession. Insiders on Circles shared their thoughts.

Branding News

In real time this week I shared the brand reveals of Olds College of Agriculture & Technology, and Toronto Metropolitan University’s new “Bold” athletics. Members of the MarCom circles got a much more detailed look at the new Olds College brand, “break new ground,” along with my review of the previous 2 visual identities, and a close look at the media release and brand video. In the Marcom Circle, I also launched the “Show & Tell” topic, with a handful of classics like the 2009 Colleges Ontario “Obay” campaign, and the amazingly personal “We Want You” from Wilkes U in Pennsylvania. In future, I hope members will share notable examples they’ve spotted, whether their own work or that of another PSE.

Strategic Plans

This week I uploaded 16 examples to my collection of CdnPSE strategic plan summaries, available to members of the Insider, CMO and Leaders Circles. The newest is Brandon U’s 2022-27 strategic plan, Mamaawii-atooshke aakihkiwiin (“Working Together and Growing”). In my summary, I observe that this remarkably detailed strat plan emphasizes BU’s aspiration to be “Canada’s finest regional university” and to start a national confederation of similar institutions. I also draw attention to 4 particularly notable initiatives the plan proposes… I think there are some interesting ideas there!

AKA Livestream

This week, my office hour for Insiders, “Ask Ken Anything,” was co-hosted by my grandpuppy, Millie – for the first and perhaps only time. (Although as my week of dogsitting wears on, she’s getting more accustomed to the many strange sounds of my office. I never imagined she would bark when I started the engines on my USS Enterprise model whirring…)

Bright Ideas

Perhaps more importantly for the Inner Circle, I also launched a “Bright Ideas” topic this week, and uploaded 9 of my own all-time favourites (from UBC’s nano-suites and Niagara’s learning enterprises to Quest’s block method and Oregon State’s “lecture theatres in the round”). But on Circles, these bright ideas won’t all come from my collection: Insiders can post, comment, and cheer on the ideas they think are the best and brightest!


And as promised, I’ve been posting daily examples of notable higher ed videos to the #ICYMI collection, which is free to everybody on Circles. Over the past week I’ve shared “Discover What’s Next” from RMIT and the video about Western’s WindEEE Tunnel (both of which I later shared in this newsletter too) – but also 5 “Welcome Back” videos, 8 “Athletics Hype” videos, and solid vids from La Trobe U and Duke U.

This newsletter may not ever catch up with the Circles version it’s based on, but here’s a taste…

Welcome Back!

In late August my YouTube feeds are absolutely flooded with vids celebrating O-Week, Welcome Weeks, Freshers’ Fairs and so much more – and especially for Fall 2022, the excitement is palpable as most campuses prepare to reopen for the first post-pandemic academic year. (Let’s hope!) 

Centennial College (Scarborough Ontario) has produced some particularly moving, cinematic spots during the pandemic. (See for example the absolutely-not-to-be-missed “Learn Your New Way,” or the more recent “Our Brilliance Will Not Be Dimmed.”) This :90 “Welcome Back” spot nicely builds anticipation as college employees prepare to welcome students back to campus: studio lights are moved into position, a flight simulator prepares for takeoff, tables are set, pizzas are put into the oven, books are reshelved in the library, beakers are poised in the lab, and instrument trays are distributed beside hospital beds. The video makes its point through wordless visuals, and president Craig Stephenson’s opening voiceover is a welcome relief from the usual talking head videos we get at this time of year. Nicely shot!

Michigan State University operates on a much larger scale, with a much bigger budget and production team, but their 2022 “Welcome Back Spartans” video is also worth a look. In just over a minute we’re treated to plenty of cinematic drone shots, sunrise lens flares over the clock tower, slow-mo rushing rapids and marching band drummers, a “frisbee-catching wonder dog,” and students engaged in football, fencing, sketching, sound engineering and so much more. “Welcome back to ivy-covered halls, to Spartan traditions, to endless opportunities… Campus is special because of you. And we are so much more with you here.” It’s a well-written, beautifully crafted, moving little vid.

My post in #ICYMI also shared thoughts on welcome back vids from Quinnipiac U, uRegina, and an “understandably generic” one from Universities Canada.

Come Join Us!

So again, while I know it’s been hectic for the past few weeks, please take a moment now to log into Eduvation Circles. For a limited time, you can join the Reader Circle or the Inner Circle completely free, for at least 6 months. And if you log in with LinkedIn, most of your profile will be created for you automatically!

Joining Circles will take you a couple of minutes, and then you can configure a personalized daily digest email, or download the mobile app for even more notification options. Before you know it, you’ll be discovering the many layers of additional content and ways to engage – with me, and with the broader community of your peers. (See “Engaging You All” for my explanation of the Eduvation Circles vision.)


Personally, I’m now spending most of my days on Circles, publishing content, hosting livestreams, and interacting with all the members who want to “engage.”

Before too long, I hope you’ll join us!

Have a great weekend,


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