The Robots are Next
Air Date: May 25, 2020
#9 The Robots are Next
May 25, 2020
0:00 Interview with Joshua Landry, President, Business Technology Management Student Association
9:26 Interview with Danielle Law, Associate Professor, Psychology and Youth and Children Studies
10:07 Interview with Sara Neziol, Manager, Academic Advising
- Brantford Campus Advising
- *Coming soon* WLU Gives Back to the Brantford Food Bank
One Market is created and produced by Bruce Gillespie and Tarah Brookfield. Music by Scott Holmes. Graphics by Melissa Weaver. Thanks to Nicole Morgan for campus promotion.
Bruce Gillespie 0:03
Welcome to One Market, keeping the Laurier Brantford community connected. I’m Bruce Gillespie. This is Episode Nine. This week, we hear how the Business Technology Management Students Association is adapting its plans for summer programming due to the pandemic, and hear from a professor who’s sewing masks and gowns for local hospitals and long term care homes. Then, we hear from Academic Advising about all the new ways they’re keeping in touch with students, and an initiative they’re planning to help support the local food bank. All that and more coming up on this episode of One Market.
Our first guest is Joshua Landry. He’s a fourth year Business Technology Management student and president of the BTM Students Association. In a normal year, the summer semester is when all BTM students are on campus studying together. This year, they’re studying remotely. So I asked him how his semester has been going so far.
Joshua Landry 1:06
Well, so far, we’ve pretty much just met our professors, had our first couple classes there, it’s definitely an interesting change. This isn’t my first experience with post secondary, I was at Conestoga College before, and never before have I really had an experience with this form of online delivery. So, you know, being in a Zoom classroom with not only professors but all your classmates and having to sort of navigate the chaos that would generally take place in it. I wouldn’t say chaos, but you know.
Bruce Gillespie 1:41
A classroom, yeah.
Joshua Landry 1:42
In the classroom, yes. All the dynamics that are present there, through a virtual means it’s been really an interesting process. And I mean, like with most things, it’s gonna take some time to really work out the speed bumps, you know, that are present. But, I think given the amount of planning that has gone into this semester, so far, I think professors will be able to help us, you know, sort of, ride it out as best, the best as can be expected.
Bruce Gillespie 2:09
And so, are you taking, like, a full time class load then, over the summer?
Joshua Landry 2:13
Me, actually I have only two classes. Our two final courses are basically, like, our capstone courses. Luckily, I was able to do most of my electives earlier on in my program, either in co-op or through just heavier class loads, along with transfer credits from Conestoga meant I didn’t have to, you know, take any courses this late into the program, which is nice. Yeah, I’ll probably be able to enjoy my summer semester more so, being able to step away from the computer once in a while.
Bruce Gillespie 2:44
Yeah, gives a bit more flexibility.
Joshua Landry 2:47
Bruce Gillespie 2:49
So, you’re also the president of the BTM Student Association. And I presume that whatever plans you had in the making a couple months ago for what your association will be doing the summer probably look really different now. So, how has remote learning and the pandemic affected your plans?
Joshua Landry 3:04
Yeah, so the BTMSA, if our audience isn’t aware, BTM students are only ever on campus all together at the same time in the summer semester. So, for BTMSA, basically, all our flagship events are planned for and take place in the summertime, just to ensure that everyone can sort of take part. This includes the BTMSA Gala, which was supposed to take place there in July. But ultimately, given the circumstances surrounding COVID, the limitations on, you know, our ability to organize events now, that has been postponed indefinitely, probably canceled altogether. So, we’ve shifted towards virtual sort of events. We have partnered with LOCUS and we are planning to hold some sort of recreational activities for our students along side of some more academic networking programming we’re putting on. Thankfully, the university has provided us the tools such as Zoom, you know, which really makes those face to face interactions a lot easier to manage.
Naturally, having, you know, a tool like Zoom, where you can just provide somebody a link and they can, you know, join in and sort of enjoy whatever you’re putting on, rather than having, you know, to force them into a Skype, creating Skype account or Facebook account. It’s just so much easier to have these things on hand. So, like, you know, the professors that are having to plan their semesters around, you know, virtual delivery, we’re very much having to pivot to into a virtual delivery of our services as best as possible. Naturally, you know, given that the semester is now online, people are, you know, at home, generally not in Brantford, so they’re not going to be as focused on perhaps the BTMSA events as we’d hoped.
Bruce Gillespie 5:02
Joshua Landry 5:03
Perhaps not, maybe now that they have so much time on our hands they’ll be able to join us. But, you know, with that in mind, you know, student buy-in is so important. So, we’ll kind of see how much they buy into this virtual delivery.
Bruce Gillespie 5:19
It didn’t occur to me that this was the one semester where all BTM students are on campus, because some of you are doing co-op during the semester, some of you are doing classwork. So, that must be really hard thing to realize that this one time of the year when you think you’re going to get to see everyone that you haven’t maybe seen a few months, is going to be all together in the same place to have to go remote like this.
Joshua Landry 5:41
Yeah, sort of, in my discussions with my classmates and with members of the BTMSA, which spans all cohorts, we get this prevailing notion that, sort of, this, you know, grand semester has, sort of, been taken away from us. And I understand that sentiment because, you know, with the gala, and everything that goes on in the summertime, it’s the only time I’m really able to grow together as a program and really socialize. Summer not only provides the weather for that, but you know, sort of the free time to do so. We had plans, not only the gala, but we had some ideas just about getting the student body as a whole maybe off the campus somewhere, perhaps, you know, a camping trip or something like that. We had started planning all these different things that have just fallen through now, and to have all that sort of taken away by the quarantine, COVID-19. Naturally, like, we understand why and we are fully behind the measures taken by the student bodies, you know, the Laurier governing council and things like that. I understand why it has to happen, but it does, it’s unpleasant that we have to, sort of, backtrack on all the great things we were gonna, sort of, put through the summer. So, we’ll try to make do as best we can, and maybe it’ll make next year’s events all that much better, you know, as alumni coming back, if we’re invited.
Bruce Gillespie 7:12
I think that’s a really good point, I think about all of the activities we do on a week to week, day to day basis on campus that were so used to, that we take for granted, right? I think when we’re finally able to get back to campus and do all of the things we normally do in a safe, healthy way, I think we’ll appreciate them so much more.
Joshua Landry 7:32
Naturally. And I think that spans not only for the university, obviously, but just contact in general. After two months, two, almost three months in quarantine, you start to realize how much you really value the human connection. Just in passing too, just, you know, going about your day in your society, you don’t realize how much, perhaps, you enjoy those distractions. And now that we haven’t had that for so long it’s really gonna put it into view, I guess, once we have access to all that again. Specifically, you know, as an alumni coming back next year, potentially, to you know, interact with student body, it will be interesting.
Bruce Gillespie 8:15
Yeah, for sure. Speaking of distractions, one thing we’re asking all our guests is, how you’re keeping yourself distracted, or busy, or occupied in those off hours when you would otherwise probably be outside your home. What have you been doing to keep yourself busy? Besides schoolwork.
Joshua Landry 8:31
Yeah, thank you. I’m a bit of an outdoorsman. So, I’ve been going on hikes a bit. I also hunt, so I took some time, you know, at my partner’s farm there. They have a lot of land, so I can just, sort of, roam the property. I built a home gym, you know, as best as one can build one, given the lack of resources that we have, in terms of not being able to go to you know, sports, fitness stores and stuff like that. Apart from that, I am working right now alongside of my courseload. So, I’ve managed to keep busy. But, we’ll see how long that last.
Bruce Gillespie 9:12
Well, Josh, thanks for talking to us today, and best of luck with the rest of your summer semester.
Joshua Landry 9:16
Thank you very much. Have a have a great semester as well.
Bruce Gillespie 9:19
Our next guest is Danielle Law, a professor in the Youth and Children’s Studies and Psychology programs. She runs the Child and Adolescent Research Education Lab, or CARE Lab, on campus. The lab works with a number of students who helped Danielle with research. Everything from data collection, to writing articles, to sharing their findings with the local community. They also run programming for local youth. Here’s our conversation. So, how much of that have you had to adapt during the pandemic when campus is closed, and things are so different and people are staying home? What kinds of changes have you had to make?
Danielle Law 9:55
Well, a lot of changes. So, a lot of things have pretty much stopped. So, we weren’t able to run our community programming anymore because of safety issues due to the pandemic. So, we weren’t able to see our youth anymore. And then, of course, I was unable to meet face to face with my students. And also, my students have, this all happened during exam time, so they were all feeling quite overwhelmed, and stressed and anxious with everything that’s happening in the world, as well as taking care of their families and trying to figure out work, and then also trying to figure out school. So, just for all of our mental health sake, we took a pause from our research activities and thinking about how we were going to mobilize our knowledge, just so that we could focus on our own well being and the well being of our families.
Bruce Gillespie 10:53
That must be a hard adjustment for the students, because certainly, and I think anyone on campus would would agree, they’re a really recognizable bunch of students, they’re always out doing things, when you walk by the lab, there’s always students in there working. This seems like a really big part of their Laurier experience. So, it’s too bad that things have changed.
Danielle Law 11:10
Yeah, it is too bad. But, I am grateful that we still maintain connection over our Facebook group and students still seem to be interested in, and looking forward to what the future will hold in the fall. And so, we’re gonna be starting to brainstorm different ideas for what things might look like.
Bruce Gillespie 11:36
That’s great to hear. And I think it’s so important to, in all aspects of university life, to hear from students about what they want and think will be useful. If indeed, we end up teaching remotely for a longer period of time than the three weeks we did this semester. I think hearing from them what they think works, what they think doesn’t work, that’s really important. And it obviously takes more work to reach out to your students and figure out, you know, to get their input. But, I think that’s really valuable, I think we have to do it.
Danielle Law 12:06
And especially if we want to maintain a student centered approach to things, and if we really want to be helping our community and our students, their voices need to be part of that. And so, I think it’s really important to make sure that they are voicing their thoughts on what’s going on. And that we ask them how things are going because it’s amazing how much they are coping with and how much they have to take care of, during this time. Like, some of them are working three or four jobs right now because their parents are no longer able to work because of the pandemic, and just for safety reasons. And so, working four jobs now is very stressful, and so, just trying to help them to find an outlet for voicing that is a good thing. And then, how we can now support them and how they can offer support to others is something that we’re trying to work on.
Bruce Gillespie 13:05
One of the other things we wanted to talk to you about was you’ve been busy making masks, sewing masks recently.
Danielle Law 13:12
Bruce Gillespie 13:13
Tell us about that. How did that start?
Danielle Law 13:15
So, this started probably a couple of days after they shut everything down at the university. I was doing a little bit of research on mask making because of all of the things that were going on in terms of the fear of running out of PPE, and so I started researching on what a good quality mask is. What’s an easy pattern because I’m a beginner sewer, what do we do about filters for the mask, and what’s the nose pieces and making sure it fits on our faces properly. So I was doing a lot of research and reading on these kinds of things and I ended up connecting with the hospital, and they put me in touch with a face mask making group called the Brany County Face Mask COVID-19 Initiative.
Bruce Gillespie 14:11
Danielle Law 14:12
And yeah, there are about over 100 of us.
Bruce Gillespie 14:16
Danielle Law 14:17
Yeah. So, there’s over 100 of us who are sewing different kinds of personal protective equipment. So, so far, we are making masks, we are making isolation gowns, scrub caps, and also scrub bags. And so, these scrub bags are meant to put these, all of the dirty or contaminated scrubs from doctors, and nurses, and various hospital workers. They just throw it in this bag, so it doesn’t touch anything else that belongs to them, and then they can just throw it in the wash when they get home. And so, we started making those. And then, of course gowns are meant for those who are in long term care facilities and also in the hospitals. So, they can wear these gowns, and they’re much easier and a little bit more, I guess, they cover you up a little bit better than the traditional kind of hospital gowns. And then, the scrub caps are for hospital workers. And then, of course, the masks which are going out to hospital workers, and all the health units, and long term care facilities and other places. So, so far, we’ve made in total, over 5000 masks.
Bruce Gillespie 15:34
Danielle Law 15:36
I know, it’s incredible. This team, they’re just, I have not made that many. But, as a whole, we’ve made 5000 masks. And these folks are really working very hard.
Bruce Gillespie 15:50
Danielle Law 15:52
Yeah, it’s, I’ve been learning a lot from this group. And it’s been a lot of fun sewing, and it’s a good break from, I’m trying to write some manuscripts here, so sewing has been a nice break from doing that.
Bruce Gillespie 16:06
Yeah, I bet. So, you’re a self described beginner sewer, what does that mean? Like, how much experience did you bring into this? How much have you been learning along the way?
Danielle Law 16:15
So, I had the big idea to start sewing my own gifts last year when I was on sabbatical.
Bruce Gillespie 16:24
Okay. I was going to say, “That sounds like a sabbatical project.”
Danielle Law 16:26
Yeah. So, during sabbatical, I decided, “You know what, I’m going to sew all my gifts now”. And so, I dragged out this sewing machine that used to belong to my mom, and I just started learning how to make very simple things last year and found it to be a lot of fun. So, the projects that I make are very, very simple. And I just make a lot of the same thing over and over again, because it’s all I know.
Bruce Gillespie 16:59
Danielle Law 17:00
So, everyone gets the same gift, basically, in the end, but it was a good way to start. And then, when the pandemic happened it just seemed like a new opportunity to try something else and to put this skill to better use. So, that’s when I thought I’d just check in and see if this was maybe something I could do.
Bruce Gillespie 17:25
That’s great. And so, are you, like, do you have to source your own fabric? Or is that sort of been provided to from someplace, or like, how does that happen?
Danielle Law 17:32
It’s all being provided. So, it’s really great. We have a coordinator for this team, and we have multiple coordinators now, but they put together kits. So, we actually have our fabric donated from Tom’s Upholstery, and they help cut fabric and into the shape or design that we’re supposed to use. And then, the coordinator puts all the materials into a bag, so the liners, and the fabric, and the elastics, and the nose pieces all go into a bag to make approximately 20-25 masks per kit. And we pick them up at various locations in Brantford and Paris just on the doorstep. So, no one sees each other, no one talks to each other, no one touches each other.
Bruce Gillespie 18:23
In the cover of night, right?
Danielle Law 18:26
It kind of is. And so, we pick up these these kits, we bring them home, we sew like crazy. And then, we have drop off locations. And then, the people who have all these masks, they sterilize all of them before bringing them to the hospitals and health units, etc. So, it’s kind of, we have a routine and everyone, kind of, knows what they’re supposed to do. And it’s really really nice to have these donations and, like, Home Depot donated filters for us and to put inside the masks, and different community partners are helping to provide supplies. And even when we run out of, or our needles become dull from sewing, they supply us with needles for our sewing machine and thread. So, it’s a really, it’s definitely a team effort and a community effort.
Bruce Gillespie 19:29
That’s amazing. I mean, what a great community project and effort that is, especially at a time like this to see so many different organizations and different people from, I imagine, various walks of life come together to do this really important and needed thing.
Danielle Law 19:42
Mhmm, yeah. I’m very grateful to be part of this team.
Bruce Gillespie 19:48
That’s great, Danielle. Thanks for telling us about that today.
Danielle Law 19:51
No problem. It’s been fun sharing.
Bruce Gillespie 19:54
Danielle isn’t the only member of the Laurier community making masks and gowns. If you’d like to find out more about the group visit our website at one-market.simplecast.com. Our final guest is Sara Neziol, manager of Academic Advising at Laurier Brantford. She and her team have been working hard since mid March to support students remotely. So, I started by asking her what that experience has been like.
Sara Neziol 20:18
It’s been, it’s been kind of fun in a way. So, we originally were planning for this absence, we could see it coming, we knew something was happening. So, before we were given the work from home orders, we’d already planned on how we would be approaching this. So, currently, right now we’re still continuing meeting one on one with students. And we’re doing that through Microsoft Teams, and it’s been great. We’ve been so happy and we’re getting really, really positive feedback from students. And it’s super easy for them to use, it also gives them three different options to interact with us virtually. So, they can have their webcam on, they could be just chatting with us through typing or they could just be having the webcam off and just talking to us like a they would in a telephone call. So, we’ve been proceeding with that seamlessly. Our emails have been, it’s definitely been busy. But, we’re still answering same day, if not, next business day for most. So, that’s very reasonable and students are really happy about that.
Bruce Gillespie 21:21
Sara Neziol 21:21
Yeah, yeah, we’re doing really well, and honestly everything, I have to say, is because of how great of the advising team is, so Galena, Kelly, Alison, Nicole and Jamie have been rockstars. And I’ve just, every day, even when we were at work, I was so grateful to work with such a great team. Now, with the situation I am 1000 times grateful every day to be working with them.
Bruce Gillespie 21:21
Sara Neziol 21:21
Yeah. And then, another thing that we’ve created is our online community. So, we’ve created a My Learning Space course for Academic Advising for the Brantford campus. So, we’ve enrolled all Brantford students, and we’re trying to post self-serve information, important dates, helpful tips through that platform. And we know students are reading it, because they’re emailing us about it. they’re copying and pasting, and posting from it. So, it’s been a silver lining. Going forward, when things do, if they ever do, go back to normal, we would be, hopefully, continuing with some of these tools. Like, why can’t we can use Microsoft Teams as a way for students to be meeting with us long term?
Bruce Gillespie 22:30
And that totally makes sense, right? I mean, I can see other lots of cases where students want to meet with someone face to face, and it happens to work for their schedule. But, for all those other times when they’re at home somewhere in Mississauga, or wherever, and they can’t come to campus just for a 20 minute meeting like this, this totally makes sense.
Sara Neziol 22:49
Exactly. And it also, especially for first-years we’re finding, which sometimes can be a good and a bad thing, is mums and dads are hopping on the calls as well.
Bruce Gillespie 22:58
Oh, I didn’t think about that.
Sara Neziol 22:59
Yeah, so their academic supports are with them in the background, which is normally a good thing, like, the more support they have, the more successful that they’ll be. So, it’s a different dynamic in our usual just student-advisor meetings, but it’s still going really well.
Bruce Gillespie 23:15
And that’s, again, I hadn’t even thought about that. But, I loved that idea because you can also get away from that, you know, the student has a meeting with an advisor, they go home, mom and dad have questions. Maybe the student forgot to ask them, maybe the can’t remember, to have everybody there on one call asking all the questions they have is probably a big time saver.
Sara Neziol 23:33
Exactly, yeah. And we’re totally fine with that. As long as the student’s fine with it, we can talk with them and their mom and dad at the meeting. It’s no problem.
Bruce Gillespie 23:41
Sara Neziol 23:42
We have another new initiative to that, actually, I would love your feedback on. We’re going to be piloting a chat bot.
Bruce Gillespie 23:50
Sara Neziol 23:51
Very Westworld like.
Bruce Gillespie 23:54
The robots are next.
Sara Neziol 23:57
So, we’ll be programming that to try to answer some, like, through our website to answer some of our most often asked questions, and we need a name for the little guy or gal. So, I’ll put that out there, anyone listening to this podcast. If you have an idea for a great name for a chatbot, let me know.
Bruce Gillespie 24:17
Yeah, that’s a good activity. And I mean, again, it sounds like a really smart use of technology because I assume that a lot of the questions advisors get are the same questions. You get the same question all the time, I imagine.
Sara Neziol 24:30
Yes. How do I drop a class? How do I pick an elective? How do I add a tutorial? Those sorts of questions are very common, and we do try to post resources for that, but sometimes they don’t, you know, you have to do a lot of clicks to get to the answer. So, hopefully the chat bot will be instant, 24 hours a day available for them.
Bruce Gillespie 24:51
Oh, that’s so cool. I can’t wait to, I was gonna say, play with it. But, I guess I can’t wait to experiment with it.
Sara Neziol 24:58
Yeah, I’m excited to see the types of information that students are looking for and at the times when they are. That’s going to give us some pretty valuable data. Yeah, no kidding.
Bruce Gillespie 25:09
So, how have you found working at home for you and your team?
Sara Neziol 25:12
Um, I can speak, well for me, at first, to be honest, it was pretty challenging. I have a three and a half year old Sandro, and then I have a two year old, little Stella. And they’re very busy, very active, and they can be very loud.
Bruce Gillespie 25:30
They probably don’t know a lot about advising yet.
Sara Neziol 25:34
No, they know mommy’s working, they know mommy has friends on her computer. But, my husband and I have been, at first, we just didn’t have our rhythm we didn’t, we were trying to be online, you know, 8:30 to 4:30 just wasn’t working. So, I’m finding that I’m, I am naturally a night owl. So, I’ve shifted where I’m pretty heavily online in the afternoon. That’s nap time, I call it my power hour. And then, you’ll find me online late into the night, you know, 11-11:30, which I’m happy to do it. And then, I also see we get a lot of emails from students at that time as well.
Bruce Gillespie 26:12
Yeah, I bet.
Sara Neziol 26:13
So, I can tackle those. Yeah, and the girls, I mean, all of our team have children, pets, they all have different things. But, I think the key is the flexibility and so, that’s pretty much how all of our colleagues are operating here at the Brantford campus. We need to do what works for you to provide the best service for the students, and knock on wood, it’s been working.
Bruce Gillespie 26:37
That’s great. The other thing we wanted to ask you about was an initiative that you and Peter Farrugia, who was a guest on our show a couple episodes ago, you’re working on a new initiative to help local food banks in recognition of the fact that most of us at Laurier Brantford are really fortunate because we’re still working, even if we’re working in different ways than we used to, and we’re still getting paychecks. But, that’s certainly not the same for everyone in our community.
Sara Neziol 27:01
And we’re such a big part of the Brantford community that we know others in the community might not have been as fortunate. They might have lost their jobs and been relying on resources in the community, like the food bank. And so, we thought what a great way for us to give back to the City of Brantford and the Brantford Food Bank that we’ve been so grateful to be, you know, where I grew up in Brantford, right? And Peter now lives in Brantford and we’re just so thankful for the community support. So, this is a way we can reach out.
Bruce Gillespie 27:31
So, how can faculty and staff at Laurier learn more about this?
Sara Neziol 27:35
So, there’s going to be a video and an email circulated soon that talks a bit more about this initiative. And we’re asking for people to please donate to the food bank online and there’ll be a link included in the email for that.
Bruce Gillespie 27:49
That’s great. We will provide a link for folks in our podcast write up, so they can take a look and help keep the food banks going.
Sara Neziol 27:56
Well, thank you.
Bruce Gillespie 27:58
Sara, it’s been great to talk to you today. Thanks so much for joining us.
Sara Neziol 28:01
Oh, you’re welcome. That was so much fun.
Bruce Gillespie 28:05
If you’d like to join Sara and Peter’s initiative to support our local food bank, you can find out more information on how to make a donation on our website, one-market.simplecast.com.
And that’s a wrap. Thanks for joining us. We hope it’s helped you feel a little more connected to the Laurier Brantford community. If you liked what you heard, tell your friends and colleagues. You can subscribe on Apple, Google, Stitcher or wherever you find your podcasts. Worried about missing an episode.? Sign up for our newsletter. You can find the link on Twitter and Facebook @onemarketlb. We’ll be back with a new episode in about a week. One Market was created and produced by Bruce Gillespie and Tarah Brookfield. Music by Scott Holmes, graphics by Melissa Weaver. Thanks for listening. Keep in touch.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai