Moodle magic underway

moodleStaying connected with students online will kick up a few notches when the College migrates from Blackboard to Moodle - a new open-source learning management system.

“Moodle has a strong learner-centred philosophy which will provide a more flexible and engaging online environment for students,” says educational technology coordinator Mike Minions, who is overseeing the project.

The impending expiry of the College’s Blackboard license in 2012 prompted the need for a review. In January, the College formed a committee made up of representatives from all portfolios as well as technical and support staff. After six months of evaluation the result was unanimous support for Moodle.

Lambda Solutions, a Vancouver-based company specializing in Moodle, will be hosting the new system and a new 27-member MoodleMakers implementation team (named below) has taken on the task of making the transition happen.

Key dates to be aware of:
•    Fall 2011 – Survey sent to instructors to identify which courses need to migrate to Moodle
•    January 2012 – Pilot Moodle with a limited number of courses. Migrate content from 2011 and prior
•    May 2012 – All courses running in Moodle. Migrate winter 2012 courses
•    September 2012 – Blackboard turned off

Both teachers and students win with this new learning management system, says HVAC Trades instructor Justin Evernden who is on the implementation team and will be taking part in the pilot.

“Navigation is much easier. It basically functions like a blogsite, and students don’t have to dig through folders to get what they need.”

Training will be available to assist instructors with the transition. A resource page and an FAQ page are in development on the College edtech website.

For background information, implementation schedules and links to Moodle tutorials, follow this link.

Moodle was created in Australia. It has 45-million users worldwide and is used by post-secondary institutions across North America including Queen’s, University of Alberta, University of Victoria and Royal Roads.

The MoodleMakers are: Madelaine Befus, Corey Bransfield, Jayne Brooks, Allan Coyle, Carl Doige, Tom Esson, Justin Evernden, Dawn Govan, Kathy Hamilton, Dave Harris, Allan Hickey, Lindsay Kennedy, Kaelyn Larson, Craig McLuckie, Rob McArthur, Margo McMahan, Megan Mills, Mike Minions, Michelle Nicholson, Jill Panton, Karen Rauser, Kerry Rempel, Brian Rhodes, Marie Scarborough, Sheilagh Seaton, Rosalind Warner and Karin Wilson.

Record Enrolment at Okanagan College

enrolmentA snapshot of student enrolment in mid-September shows an overall four per cent increase in the number of students attending Okanagan College over the same time last year: 6,216 compared to 5,976 a year ago. That news comes in the wake of a 16 per cent increase in the College’s summer enrolments.

“This growth is an important signal,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “It means we’re able to accommodate more students who are able to pursue their career and academic goals.”

The growth is notable in a variety of areas, observes Hamilton. For example, first-year university science enrolments have increased 51 per cent over the previous year (338, up from 254); student numbers in the environmental studies also more than doubled (50 compared to 20); students taking first year of business administration programs have increased about 10 per cent (556 compared to 504); and student enrolment in the two years of the Criminal and Social Justice Diploma program has climbed 53 per cent (129 compared to 84). 

If the trend holds through the full year, 2011-12 will be the seventh year in a row that Okanagan College has grown. Since 2005, Okanagan College has grown by 46 per cent – exceeding government-set targets each year. 

Follow this link to read the complete Public Affairs press release, which includes a campus-by-campus breakdown as well as information about growth in Distance Education. 

Safe Disclosure Policy adopted by College

A new policy has been adopted by Okanagan College and is intended to provide employees an additional avenue to raise concerns about potential or suspected wrongdoing at Okanagan College.

The Safe Disclosure Policy is intended as a supplement to regular reporting and accountability measures at the College, and describes a process that would allow employees to report wrongdoing, anonymously if necessary. It also protects those employees from any retaliation or adverse employment consequences, if their reports were based on reasonable grounds and made in good faith.

Employees need to know that if they see something they think is wrong, and for whatever reason they cannot use their regular reporting mechanisms, there is a way for them to get the institution’s attention, explains Bob Eby, Vice President of Finance and Administration. Administration of the policy is his responsibility.

The policy makes allowances for anonymous reporting through an independent agency, Grant Thornton CARE (Confidential Anonymous Reporting for Employees). A 1-800 number and an e-mail address are available for reporting purposes.

The policy is available online via myOkanagan or through this link.

Community Foundation gift strengthens ties with College

foundationA gift from the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan to Okanagan College’s Centre of Excellence in Penticton will result in a physical testament to the Foundation’s goal of strengthening the communities it serves.

The Community Foundation recently presented a gift of $6,564.75 to the College for purchase of equipment for the newly-constructed gymnasium and fitness facility at the Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation.

“Our relationship with the College goes back to 1994,” says Community Foundation Executive Director Aaron McRann. “This contribution toward the College’s fundraising efforts for the new building is a way to celebrate that friendship and to help students and the community at the same time.”

The partnership between the College and the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan began when OUC (the predecessor to Okanagan College) established an endowment with the Foundation to provide scholarships and bursaries for students. Since then, more than $31,000 has been disbursed through the Community Foundation to help individuals reach their educational goals.
Follow this link to read the complete press release.

One Story, One Song wins Ryga Award

Last week the George Ryga Society and Okanagan College announced that Richard Wagamese, author of One Story, One Song, won the eighth annual George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature. 

The Ryga Award celebrates playwright George Ryga’s legacy by searching for an outstanding work of literary and social value by a B.C. writer. Wagamese’s book, published by Douglas & McIntyre, was one of nearly 60 entries in the 2011 Ryga Award competition. After being shortlisted with four other finalists, One Story, One Song was chosen by this year’s judge Andrew Steeves of Gaspereau Press, publisher of Johanna Skibsrud’s Giller Prize-winning novel The Sentimentalists.

“Wagamese artfully weaves sixty-some short essays—stories, really—into an unpretentious philosophy of life rooted in personal observations and experiences, transposing an understanding of traditional Ojibway principles (humility, trust, introspection and wisdom) into modern-day life,” explained Steeves. 

“Though drawing unflinchingly on his experiences as a native man, a child of residential school survivors, a homeless person and an addict, Wagamese writes with honesty and pathos without becoming ensnared in sentimentality. Yet it is not a book focused on hardships, victimhood or survival; rather, One Story, One Song is a frank and frequently mirthful testament to the prospect of a way forward; a reminder of our responsibility to live principled lives,” he added.

One Story, One Song will be celebrated at the 2011 Ryga Award gala on Oct. 1 held at 8 p.m. in the Centre Stage Theatre in Summerland, B.C. In the week leading up to the gala, CBC Radio One (Kelowna) will air excerpts from the shortlisted books and interviews with Steeves and Wagamese.

Follow this link to read the complete press release, which includes the full list of 2011 finalists as well as more information about the gala and how to get tickets.

Viewbook 2012-13 now available online

viewbookOkanagan College’s Viewbook 2012-13 is now available online and can be best viewed via ISSUU, an online document host website. The Viewbook is a publication that is annually produced by Public Affairs. The Viewbook is geared primarily toward prospective students in Grades 10-12 and provides an overview of the programs and services offered by Okanagan College throughout the regions.

The Viewbook is a promotional piece for the College and is a 28-page snapshot of the College’s offerings. Complete program information, academic policies and admission procedures can be found in the online Calendar.


Chef Armstrong inspires new menu at Infusions

armstrongiExpect a world of new flavours on the menu next time you dine at Infusions in Kelowna – the showcase for Okanagan College’s Culinary Arts program.

With a focus on fresh with a B.C. flair, the new chef instructor of the Culinary Arts program Jim Armstrong brings the best of internationally inspired cuisine to the table.

Creations as varied as Baby Frisée Greens featuring an Okanagan apple walnut vinaigrette, to grilled pesto chicken Panini, or even a seared salmon with a shellfish saffron broth are bound to capture attention of foodies looking for new twists on tradition.

Armstrong comes by his passion for B.C. cuisine honestly. He launched his career 30 years ago attending the 10-month cook training program at Okanagan College. That quickly landed him a coveted three-year apprenticeship at the Four Season’s Hotel in Vancouver. From there he prepared succulent meals for four years at Chateau Whistler Resort, later returning to the Okanagan where, as executive chef, he was instrumental in establishing the Harvest Golf Course Dining Room as one of the most highly regarded restaurants in the region.

“I worked with local farmers while I was at the Harvest and it makes a real difference to the end product,” said Armstrong. 

Armstrong added teaching to his repertoire a few years ago as head of the dual-credit culinary arts program at Mount Boucherie Secondary School. He says he’s looking forward to working closely with College students on more complex dishes, along with the skills of plating, and creating luscious desserts including one of his favourites – a lemon panicotti topped with a meringue.

Stepping into the Mount Boucherie program to teach the next generation of Okanagan-trained chefs will be veteran chef Bill Adams, who was instrumental in developing the program when it launched in 2008.

Infusions Restaurant is open Tuesday to Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. for lunch, then re-opens at 3 p.m. for midday service, followed by dinner starting at 5 p.m. The licensed restaurant offers a selection of Okanagan wines, and can be booked in advance for groups of five-to-200. Contact Susan Kane for reservations and more details at (250) 762-5445, ext. 4426.

Aubin proves to be Ironclad

aubinOffice Administration instructor Lynn Aubin fulfilled a childhood dream in August when she successfully completed the Subaru Ironman Canada 2011 challenge in Penticton. Lynn finished the grueling race (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and a 26.2 mile run) in a time of 15 hours, 54 minutes and 59 seconds.

She spent a full year training for the event, logging hundreds of hours of time on the bike, in the pool and on the road. When race day arrived everything went according to plan. Lynn’s training prepared her to maintain consistent pace throughout the day. Among her most memorable moments were:

“Nervously standing in among 2,800 competitors in the water and noticing my husband surrounded by thousands of people and then coming out of the water and stepping on the timing mat –signifying that I had survived the swim.

Seeing my family at various places on the race course and getting a kiss from my husband.
Enjoying the scenery while I was cycling up the Richter pass. Hills are my strong suit, so I passed several people.

Meeting up with my training partner and running the last 30 kms with her. We crossed the finish line together.”

Sustainability in Education Series

pvpanelIn David Williams’ Introduction to Electronic Engineering Technology class, students have a chance to apply a rigorous sustainability analysis tool to the Electronics program itself.  

Using the Planning for Sustainability Starter Guide from The Natural Step, students identify what makes sustainability relevant to the department, analyze the operations of the department from a sustainability point of view and then create a compelling vision and a set of goals to help make the operations of the Electronics department more sustainable.

Stay tuned to Inside Okanagan College to learn about the ideas that have been adopted by the department.

If you have your own 100-150 word story of how you have integrated sustainability principles into some area of Okanagan College’s educational programming please send it to David Williams so that it can be featured in upcoming editions of the Sustainability in Education Series.

Bailey and Goodman earn graduate degrees

baileyTwo members of the Adult Academic and Career Preparation Department will receive graduate degrees at UBC-O in November. Barbara Bailey successfully defended her thesis, Interpreting Silence and Communal Contexts in Indigenous Literature, to fulfill the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies.  

goodmanDonna-Leigh Goodman successfully defended her thesis, An Investigation into the Concept of Heat – A Study of Chemistry Instructors’ Alternate Conceptions, fulfilling the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Education. Both Bailey and Goodman will receive their Master degrees in November.
September 27, 2011 Vol. 5 Issue 13


Delivering WOW Customer Service

The Registrar’s Office is hosting a webinar from SEMWorks on how to deliver great customer service in room S103B on Oct. 14 from 10:30 a.m. to 12 noon. 

The webinar provides insight into customer service in a higher education context. Contrary to the private sector view that "the customer is always right," successful models in colleges and universities are about empowering students and teaching them to take responsibility for their future. Core content includes: students as consumers of our services and educational products, delivering on institutional promises, and best practices in student services.

Please feel free to join the webinar in Kelowna (no RSVP required) or email Inga Wheeler to receive your own login so you can watch from your campus, computer or home.

Attention fitness facility members

As of Monday October 3, the Kelowna Fitness Facility will no longer accept Prox cards as secure entry into the facility. The fitness facility is being upgraded to the SALTO system. Any fitness centre users should bring their existing SALTO cards to the Campus Rec office for upgrading. 

United Way Campaign upcoming events

The United Way Campaign (Kelowna) had a kickoff breakfast that drew 20 Okanagan College employees earlier this month. Next month is Okanagan College's official United Way month of activities. The following are some upcoming events you won't want to miss:

President’s Office sponsored Pit Stop - Oct. 14 9:30 – 10:30 a.m. in Infusions – all staff members that sign a pledge form for the UW will be eligible for the draw prizes which will be drawn at the day's end on Oct. 14.
1)      Win a parking spot of your choice for one semester: winter and fall  (starts in January 2012, two winners)
 2)      Win a lunch for you and three friends from Fezzi’s
 3)      Win a dinner for two at Infusions
 4)      Win a gift certificate from the Bookstore
 5)      Win a Debeans gift certificate
Halloween Hamburger BBQ on Oct. 31 – watch Inside Okanagan College for more details but start planning your costume now to get in on the fun.

Urban trekking kicks off at Kelowna campus  

Okanagan College’s Recreation department in Kelowna is offering an opportunity to participate in urban trekking – a walking group that will meet weekly on Fridays. Anyone who wants to participate can meet at the Campus Rec office A105 at noon for a 50 minute walk followed by a 5 minute stretch. Dress for the weather and start your weekend off on a positive note. Sign up for this free walk at the campus rec office A105.

Interested in becoming a part of the Diversity Working Group?

Okanagan College has made an explicit commitment to diversity both strategically and operationally. The Okanagan College Strategic Plan, the Long Term Education Plan and the Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) all place an emphasis on the need for diversity and diversity related initiatives. As a result, the College has now endorsed the creation of a Diversity Working Group with the purpose of bringing together members of the Okanagan College community for continuing dialogue, support and planning aimed at ensuring that Okanagan College embraces diversity and universal accessibility, and extends a warm welcome to all members of the community.

The Diversity Working Group aims to promote thinking more deeply about and raising the level of awareness of diversity at Okanagan College. 

If this sounds interesting and you want to get involved, please contact James Coble at extension 4322.

Copy and Print Initiative online survey winners announced

Phase two of the Supply Management Services’ Three Steps Forward Fleet Copy and Print Requirements Sustainable Initiative was initiated on July 25. To assist the department in the continuous improvement of technologies and document strategies within the work place, two on-line surveys were made available to a core focus group.

The focus group was selected for their in-depth knowledge and understanding of work-flow, technologies and document strategies within their own division.

Supply Management Services would like to thank the focus group for taking the time to complete the two surveys and for their valuable input and feedback.

As a way of thanking participants, Supply Management is giving away prizes. Follow this link into the Supply Management website to see if you are one of the on-line survey winners.

Campus Stores takes a cue from Oprah


The Okanagan College Campus Store is now carrying LUG bags. The bags gained notoriety after being featured in O Magazine as one of Oprah’s favorite things. The Campus Store is carrying the LUG Puddle Jumper $59.99 (Oprah’s favorite) as well as the Satchel $36.99, both are available in a variety of colours. A new shipment is due to arrive in October.

Kelowna Campus Sustainability Committee

The Kelowna Campus is establishing a Sustainability Committee to help support, improve and expand sustainability practices on campus. If you are interesting in being a part of this Committee, please contact Heather Schneider, Regional Dean at local 4789 to sign on. The first meeting is being organized for early October.

Toastmasters update

Beginning next week, Okanagan College will host a new Toastmasters group at the Kelowna campus. The group is open to anyone who is interested in further developing their skills in public speaking and/or leadership. Whether novice or advanced, this is your opportunity to grow.

Energy Manager Rob St. Onge will serve as the club president and the group will meet on Wednesdays between 12 – 1 p.m. Anyone interested in finding out more can attend a demonstration meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 5 in room B-131. (You will not be required to speak). Please RSVP to Rob St.Onge. Regular Meetings commence the following week on Oct. 12.

For more information about the Toastmasters organization, go online.

50/50 winner announced

Congratulations to Ingrid Carter from enrolment services in Penticton – the winner of the Sept. 23 payday draw for $587.50. All Okanagan College employees are eligible to participate in the Okanagan College Foundation 50/50 Staff Lottery.

If you wish to sign up, registration forms are available from Tessa Derksen (Local 4774) in the Advancement & Alumni/Okanagan College Foundation office (located in P103, KLO Campus) or from Human Resources.


Sept. 27 – Okanagan College’s Vernon campus will welcome Dr. Anna Warwick Sears, Executive Director of the Okanagan Basin Water Board, as this year’s first presenter in the Science in Society Speaker Series. The event will take place at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $5 in advance or $7 at the door. Please contact the Okanagan Science Centre or call (250) 545-3644 for advanced purchase of tickets or for more information.

Sept. 30 – The Okanagan College Coyotes hockey team will open the regular season with a home game against Selkirk College. The game takes place at Memorial Arena in Kelowna at 8:45 p.m. 

Sept. 30 – International Education is hosting a salsa night and international potluck in the Pit at the Kelowna campus. The event is open to students and employees and runs from 5-9 p.m. Everyone is welcome and attendees are asked to bring a potluck item to serve approximately 10 people. Activities include salsa performances, dance lessons, Spanish classes, music, food and more.

Oct. 3 – Penticton Speaker Series: Dr. Jarkko Jalava - Is Crime a Disease?

In the past two decades, neural imaging studies seem to show abnormalities in the brains of one group of offenders, called psychopaths. Because of this, some argue psychopaths should not be held criminally responsible for their crimes. Dr. Jarkko Jalava, Okanagan College criminology professor, examines whether science actually shows that psychopathy is a disease and that psychopaths have no free will. This event takes place at 7 p.m. in the Penticton Lecture theatre – admission is by donation.

Oct. 6 – The Okanagan College Alumni Association will honour its 2011 Distinguished and Young Alumni Award winners, the Hon. George Abbott and Shane Koyczan, at a cocktail reception at 6 p.m. in the Centre for Learning in Kelowna. Contact Katerina Hay for tickets ($55) or more information.

Oct. 10 – Okanagan College will close in observance of the Thanksgiving Day statutory holiday.


The Centre of Excellence has the largest solar energy system in Western Canada, which will help the building reach its goal of net-zero energy. Read more about the solar panel technology and the project developer SkyFire Energy in College looks skyward for its energy.

Green building consultant Kathleen O’Brien visited the Centre for Learning on a tour with Bunting Coady Architect’s regional manager, Randy Fox. O’Brien was in Kelowna to speak at a green building workshop. Read more in Green building a viable alternative.

Student enrolment at Okanagan College this fall is up four percent over last year at the same time. Read more in Record number of students enrolled at college.

Just in time for the new school year Okanagan College students will be able to research thousands of journals, e-books and online resources with a single click at the Library. Okanagan College is the first in BC to adopt this new research technology. For years students have been able to do online library research, now it’s just gotten easier. Read more in College leader in research technology.

The Okanagan College Alumni Association announced it will bestow its highest honours on the Hon. George Abbott, Minister of Education (Distinguished Alumnus 2011) and famed slam poet Shayne Koyczan (Young Alumnus 2011). News of the recipients traveled fast and resulted in a series of articles including: Penticton slam poet, politico to be honoured, Abbott earns distinguished OC alumni award, and a brief in the Capital News. Capital News columnist Jennifer Smith also published an editorial that criticized administration at the College for honouring a sitting politician with an honorary degree. Smith's article was wrought with misinformation and undue conclusions, which prompted a response from Public Affairs Director Allan Coyle. Read the column and Allan's response here.

Okanagan College’s Vernon campus had lots of first day of school activities. The Morning Star captured some photos from the orientation events. See College Fare, College Cheer and College 101.

There was a power outage the first week of classes in Vernon due to a transformer failure. Read more in Power outage cancels classes.

Mackie House’s writer-in-residence, Brenda Schmidt, held a poetry reading at Gallery Vertigo. Read more about Schmidt in Mackie house’s resident writer to read poetry.

In her School’s In column Registrar Jane Muskens wrote about the costs of post-secondary education and why all young adults should attend college or university. Read more in Post-secondary education is an investment in yourself.

The Okanagan College Coyotes baseball team travelled to Nanaimo for exhibition games but were unable to pull off any wins. Read more in OC in Nanaimo, OC winless on isle and OC Coyotes work hard against VIBI.

The winner of the eighth annual George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literacy was announced. Read more about the winner Richard Wagamese and the other finalists in One Story, One Song wins Ryga Award.

Okanagan College’s Jennifer Andrews was one of 48 students to receive the Standing Tall award from Coast Capital Savings. Read more in Kelowna student Stands Tall.

Okanagan College hosted the third annual powwow and the Daily Courier captured a photo. See the photo of Aboriginal dancers in Passionate powwow.


Do you have comments, questions or a submission for INSIDE OKANAGAN COLLEGE? Please email Public Affairs c/o Christine Ulmer. To ensure your submission is included, please send all details at least one day in advance of the newsletter’s publication.

The next edition of INSIDE OKANAGAN COLLEGE will be issued on Tuesday, Oct. 11.