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Offering grad students hands-on advice

By Jeff Green | March 27, 2009

Graduate students at Atlantic Canada’s largest university have a new free online resource at their fingertips.

Memorial is the first Canadian post-secondary institution to participate in GradShare, an interactive web-based program allowing users to ask and answer questions in various forums.

The website is similar to Yahoo! answers.

Students can learn more about research, thesis writing, career planning, teaching, funding, and work-life balance.

  • Listen to the March 20th edition of Studio 1024, Memorial's podcast, for an interview about GradShare.

The service went live earlier this month at Memorial and is the brainchild of the U.S.-based company ProQuest which offers the same service to American universities and colleges.

Dr. Noreen Golfman, dean, School of Graduate Studies at Memorial, first learned of the program during a conference last December and immediately knew it was a perfect fit for Memorial and its web-savvy grad students.

“GradShare is an innovative social networking tool, the kind that graduate students use and can readily get information from,” she said. “It’s an online community – a great living tool.”

The program is being administered at Memorial by Graduate Studies as well as the University Library.

Students can register with the site, providing a username and unique identification. From there, they have access to peer discussions, research tools, and funding resources. They can also connect with various faculty members and graduate school administrators who can offer insight to the students on specific issues.

Once registered, users can also tap into resources housed at Memorial.

“Students can access a broad range of university and library resources by signing up – a big advantage,” said Dr. Golfman, adding the interactive program will be advantageous for both on-campus and online students.

She said being the first Canadian post-secondary institution to partner with ProQuest signals Memorial’s desire to offer cutting-edge and unique services to its grad students.

“Our early involvement reflects our ambition to be innovative and ahead of the curve,” she added.

Memorial currently has 2,399 registered graduate students – 1,362 of which are full-time while the remaining 1,037 are part-time.

The launch of GradShare builds on the School of Graduate of Studies’ commitment to have a stronger web presence.

Earlier this month, it launched an interactive website to assist in its recruitment and retention of graduate students. It includes easily accessible information with a sleek, modern design.

“The new site is a fine example of marketing potential in the sheer number of hits that are registered,” said Dr. Golfman. Her unit worked closely with Memorial’s Division of Marketing and Communications to produce the new site.

“Since the microsite was launched on March 11, the number of hits went from 5,000 to 33,000. That is a staggering leap, but a sign of just how hungry the market is out there for well-packaged sources of information.

“Today’s web browser has high expectations, chief among them, ease of access, up-to-datedness, appealing visuals and, in general, and an elegant web architecture that makes the connections obvious,” Dr. Golfman added.

“The microsite says –‘we are on the ball; we understand you; we share your expectations.’”


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