July 13, 2020

UMW Professors Find Creative Ways to Teach Through COVID-19

Assistant Music Professor Christopher Ryder (top, center) teaches conducting over Zoom. “I’ve been impressed by the students’ ability to adapt to very difficult circumstances,” said Ryder, who is among the UMW faculty who are now finding new and creative ways to teach remotely.

Assistant Music Professor Christopher Ryder (top, center) teaches conducting over Zoom. “I’ve been impressed by the students’ ability to adapt to very difficult circumstances,” said Ryder, who is among the UMW faculty who are now finding new and creative ways to teach remotely.

Teaching at Mary Washington looks a bit different lately. Andi Smith films YouTube videos with her children to demonstrate architectural principles. Zach Whalen uses cartoons to teach a digital studies lesson. Smita Jain Oxford holds Zoom office hours for business majors on her daily jog.

When the University moved to virtual classes last month due to the coronavirus pandemic, UMW faculty had to adapt quickly. Some already had experience with online instruction, while others became students themselves, seeking advice from tech-savvy colleagues – as well as the Digital Learning Center, Center for Teaching and UMW Libraries. Armed with a variety of technology tools, they’ve been finding creative and engaging ways to educate, support and stay connected to students through the end of the semester and beyond.

Students are facing multiple challenges as they complete their coursework, said Janine Davis, an associate professor in UMW’s College of Education. Dealing with limited internet access, caring for sick family members and serving in essential jobs are among their chief concerns, she said, and they’re also managing a wide range of emotions.

“We have to give students some space,” Davis said, “but also let them know we’re here and we want them to succeed and be healthy.” Read more.

Through Pandemic, Research Remains Top Priority at UMW

Held annually on campus, UMW’s Research and Creativity Day went virtual this year, due to COVID-19. The event allows students to share projects they’ve worked on all year.

Held annually on campus, UMW’s Research and Creativity Day went virtual this year, due to COVID-19. The event allows students to share projects they’ve worked on all year.

They put in the hours – late-night study sessions, one-on-one meetings with faculty members, conferences, presentations and projects. All year long, students have been working hard on one of the University of Mary Washington’s top priorities: undergraduate research.

A pandemic wasn’t about to stop the 14th annual showcase that highlights all of their efforts. Filled with posters in the form of PDF images and oral synopses on video, the UMW Research and Creativity Day Virtual Symposium covers everything from math and science to the performing and visual arts. The online event will be open tomorrow through Friday for questions and comments, and for all-around marveling over UMW students’ ingenuity and drive.

“It’s a time for all of us to pause to celebrate our students’ hard work, their creativity, and the knowledge they’ve produced,” said Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Betsy Lewis. “When it was clear we wouldn’t be able to do this face-to-face on campus this year, I really wanted to find a way to replicate that sense of community and celebration.” Read more.

Broome’s Higher Ed Learning Collective Highlighted in The Free Lance-Star

College of Education Professor John Broome recently created the Higher Ed Learning Collective to help faculty members around the world adjust to teaching online. The Facebook group now boasts over 25,000 members in more than 100 countries. Photo by Kristi Meacham.

College of Education Professor John Broome recently created the Higher Ed Learning Collective to help faculty members around the world adjust to teaching online. The Facebook group now boasts over 25,000 members in more than 100 countries. Photo by Kristi Meacham.

College of Education Associate Professor John Broome was interviewed in The Free Lance-Star about his recently launched Higher Ed Learning Collective.

John Broome didn’t realize that the Facebook group he created had gone global until a professor in Australia noted that there, the current semester isn’t “Spring 2020” but “Fall 2020.”

“Literally, that is the first moment I realized, ‘Um, this has gone global. I had no idea,’” said Broome, an associate professor in the College of Education at the University of Mary Washington.

Intuiting what was to come, on March 11, the day before the university announced that it was moving all courses online in response to the coronavirus outbreak, Broome created a Facebook group to share tips and tricks for remote teaching.

“I expected it to be a group mostly of friends and extensions of friends to help each other, knowing that some of us are trained in online instruction but some of us aren’t prepared for it,” Broome said. “I added maybe 75 or 100 of my friends.”

But by the end of the first day of its existence, 3,000 people had joined the group and now, the Higher Ed Learning Collective has 25,000 members in more than 100 countries and has accumulated 400,000 posts, comments and reactions. Read more.

UMW Professor’s Online Initiative Attracts Tens of Thousands

The University of Mary Washington is among countless educational institutions worldwide that have switched to virtual classes due to the coronavirus threat, or COVID-19. Suddenly, students are at home, and so are their teachers. The transition has been daunting for many professors, especially those who have never taught online.

Higher Ed Learning Collective But one UMW faculty member saw it as an opportunity.

College of Education Professor John Broome launched the Higher Ed Learning Collective (HELC), a grassroots, we’re-all-in-it-together kind of Facebook group for sharing high- and low-tech remote-teaching tools, sprinkled with a dose of self-care. He never imagined the Collective would gain traction across the globe in just a few weeks, morphing into a worldwide movement with over 24,000 members in more than 100 countries … and counting.

HELC already has introduced a website and YouTube channel, and dozens of universities, libraries and online learning sites are recommending the group, as is UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The Collective is creating a sense of community in a world that desperately needs one, and Broome hopes HELC will outlive the coronavirus pandemic, driving faculty to better address the diverse needs of students.

“Not everyone has access to good online or hybrid pedagogy,” said Broome, who – like so many fellow academics – was anxiously posting on social media. “We’re struggling as educators and as humans … so why not teach each other for free?” Read more.

Broome Hosts Guest Author-Lecturer Gloria Ladson-Billings Over Zoom

College of Education Associate Professor John Broome

College of Education Associate Professor John Broome

College of Education Associate Professor John Broome surprised his students in EDUC 204: Introduction to Teaching and Learning with a visit over Zoom with University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor Gloria Ladson-Billings, the author of The Dreamkeepers, a renowned foundational text that introduces her widely-used theory, culturally relevant pedagogy. Broome met Ladson-Billings in 2017 after she served as UMW College of Education’s Educator-in-Residence and the two have kept in touch ever since.

“She’s literally one of the most famous, influential, and impactful education theorists and researchers in the world,” Broome said. “I wanted them to have private time with her and she was happy to do it. I only expected a few minutes. She’s very busy writing and editing books and articles. 90 minutes later…” he said.

University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor Gloria Ladson-Billings

Broome said he didn’t tell many students, and instead, just asked a few to have questions ready. After finishing work in Zoom breakout rooms, they regrouped to find Ladson-Billings, who spoke to them from her home in Wisconsin.

 

 

Broome’s Online Learning Collective in The Chronicle of Higher Education

College of Education Associate Professor John Broome. Photo by Norm Shafer.

College of Education Associate Professor John Broome. Photo by Norm Shafer.

College of Education Associate Professor John Broome was mentioned in a Chronicle of Higher Education article entitled, “How to Help Struggling Students Succeed Online.” Broome recently launched the Online Learning Collective, a Facebook group – which has since added a website and YouTube channel – to help faculty worldwide with high- and low-tech tools and resources, support and encouragement as they learn to teach remotely.

John Broome, an associate professor of education at the University of Mary Washington, started a Facebook group, the Online Learning Collective, to support the transition to remote teaching. It already has more than 20,000 members.

Read more.

Broome’s Online Learning Collective Mentioned on NPR

College of Education Associate Professor John Broome. Photo by Norm Shafer.

College of Education Associate Professor John Broome. Photo by Norm Shafer.

College of Education Professor John Broome’s Online Learning Collective, a Facebook group launched last week that now boasts over 16,000 members, was mentioned in an NPR story about the challenge of transitioning in-person courses to online. The article also features former UMW Digital Studies instructor Sean Michael Morris.

“Everyone’s freaked out,” says Sean Michael Morris. He’s in the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Colorado, Denver and the director of Digital Pedagogy Lab, an organization focused on digital learning, technology and social justice. He’s one of the curators of Teaching Online With Care, a crowdsourced document collecting ideas about this transition. There’s also a Facebook group with 15,000 members started by John Broome at the University of Mary Washington, called “Online Learning Collective.” Read more.

Professor Wins Grant to Pen Open Education Textbook

Melissa Wells, an assistant professor in UMW’s College of Education, was recently awarded a $10,000 grant by VIVA – Virtual Library of Virginia – to write an Open Education Resources textbook.

Melissa Wells, an assistant professor in UMW’s College of Education, was recently awarded a $10,000 grant by VIVA – Virtual Library of Virginia – to write an Open Education Resources textbook.

It’s a dilemma faced by many students on financial aid. Funds often don’t hit accounts until a few weeks into the semester, so students can’t purchase textbooks, and they risk falling behind.

Melissa Wells, an assistant professor in UMW’s College of Education (COE), knows this scenario all too well. That’s why she’s designing an Open Education Resources (OER) textbook for her Foundations in Education course, thanks to a $10,000 grant from VIVA – Virtual Library of Virginia – a consortium of nonprofit academic libraries within the Commonwealth. News of the grant comes as educators nationwide celebrate Open Education Week, March 2 to 6.

As the cost of textbooks rises, so does the importance of providing access to personalized learning materials meant for diverse audiences. Buoyed by new Virginia legislation encouraging the adoption of open and affordable materials in higher education, Mary Washington professors like Wells are leading the way. Read more.

Teacher of the Year: ‘It’s About Touching Their Hearts’

National Teacher of the Year Rodney Robinson spoke of his quest to bring equity to the classroom last night at UMW’s Dodd Auditorium. Photos by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

National Teacher of the Year Rodney Robinson spoke of his quest to bring equity to the classroom last night at UMW’s Dodd Auditorium. Photos by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

Children need to feel safe, understood and loved in order to find success in the classroom. That’s the message 2019 National Teacher of the Year Rodney Robinson delivered last night in UMW’s Dodd Auditorium.

“It’s about relationships,” said Robinson, who teaches history at the Richmond Juvenile Detention Center’s Virgie Binford Education Center. “It’s about touching their hearts and making them want to change.”

He had one word for teaching, especially in the prison system: tough. Robinson believes teachers must meet students’ basic, social and emotional needs before tackling academics. He urged educators – many of whom were in the audience of about 200 – to get to know their students, empathize with them and create culturally responsive curricula that take into account the students’ interests and experiences as human beings.

“Every day, everything I do is viewed through a lens of equity,” Robinson said. “I believe that all students can learn and it’s everybody’s job to help teach the children.” Read more.

Teacher of the Year Shares Mission of Equity at UMW

Rodney Robinson, the 2019 National Teacher of the Year, will speak to aspiring educators from UMW’s College of Education and the local community on Wednesday, Jan. 29, at 6 p.m. in Dodd Auditorium.

Rodney Robinson, the 2019 National Teacher of the Year, will speak to aspiring educators from UMW’s College of Education and the local community on Wednesday, Jan. 29, at 6 p.m. in Dodd Auditorium.

Rodney Robinson was inspired to become a teacher because of his mother. Growing up in rural Virginia, segregation and poverty hindered her own education, but it didn’t stop her from finding her calling teaching young children in her home daycare.

“She always taught us that every child deserves the proper amount of love to get where he or she needs,” Robinson said.

Named 2019 National Teacher of the Year, he will share his teaching philosophies, and his support of economic and cultural equity in the classroom, with aspiring educators from UMW’s College of Education and the local community. The talk will take place next Wednesday, Jan. 29, at 6 p.m. in Dodd Auditorium.

Robinson said he took his mother’s lesson, which he shared recently with his alma mater, Virginia State University (VSU), to heart. Since 2015, he’s taught history at a juvenile detention center in Richmond, believing that access to a quality education and empathetic teachers can be keys to success for these students.

“Mr. Robinson is making a positive difference in the lives of students who need it the most,” said Pete Kelly, Dean of UMW’s College of Education. “As the National Teacher of the Year, he has an important story to tell, and I encourage everyone to come hear him speak.” Read more.