October 1, 2020

Professors Pool Resources to Focus on ‘Compelling Courses’

Assistant Professor of Biology April Wynn is among the dozens of UMW professors participating this summer in Compelling Courses, a faculty learning community to help instructors design engaging courses.

Assistant Professor of Biology April Wynn is among the dozens of UMW professors participating this summer in Compelling Courses, a faculty learning community to help instructors design engaging courses.

To teach mitosis, April Wynn has students in her class act out the process, portraying chromosomes that divide into nuclei. The assistant professor of biological sciences hopes to replicate lively exercises like this – but virtually – in the fall.

“My goal is to promote the same level of engagement, energy and enthusiasm in an online space,” said Wynn, who, as faculty director of the University of Mary Washington’s First-Year Experience, is helping other instructors do the same for their classes.

Professors often spend their breaks on scholarly research, but Wynn is among dozens of UMW faculty members who went back to school this summer. Through a new faculty learning community called Compelling Courses, representatives from nearly every academic department have been teaching each other how to deliver dynamic online lessons and incorporate the best of the UMW experience into distance learning.

In March of this year, UMW professors – the majority of whom had never taught online – abruptly had to shift to a new method of teaching. The succeeding months have given these instructors time to tinker with and tweak tools so that they are fully prepared to teach virtually if necessary. Many, like Wynn, have found that this modality can even offer benefits.

“We believe teaching can be excellent regardless of medium,” said Professor of Economics Steve Greenlaw, who launched the group with Professor of Communication Anand Rao. “It all depends on how you design the course.” Read more.

Professors Pool Expertise to Create ‘Compelling Courses’

To teach mitosis, April Wynn has students in her class act out the process, portraying chromosomes that divide into nuclei. The assistant professor of biological sciences hopes to replicate lively exercises like this – but virtually – in the fall. “My goal is to promote the same level of engagement, energy and enthusiasm in an […]

Center for Teaching Announcement

A message from the Provost.

To all faculty and staff:

As we end the academic year and head into summer activity, I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the significant work of the Center for Teaching and announce some changes. As you are aware, the Center for Teaching (along with Digital Learning Support) played a critical role in supporting our efforts to transition to remote instruction this past spring. The Center for Teaching is now fully engaged in summer faculty development and preparations for fall.

It is important to recognize that the foundation for this effort owes much to the leadership of Dr. Caitie Finlayson who served on special assignment as the Faculty Program Director during the past two years. Caitie’s task was to work with faculty to plan and develop a Center for Teaching responsive to the needs and interests of our diverse faculty. Thanks to her efforts, the Center has a clear direction, offers a variety of programs and resources, and works collaboratively with other areas to provide faculty development and support.

As part of this effort, Caitie also led the national search for a full-time administrator for the Center, which brought us one of our own: Dr. Victoria Russell. I am pleased to share that Victoria will now continue on in an expanded role as the Director of the Teaching Center.

This summer, Caitie has elected to conclude her special assignment having successfully completed the task of designing and launching the Center for Teaching. I know you join me in thanking Caitie for her outstanding service and leadership to the University over the past two years, and in welcoming Victoria to her additional responsibilities.

We are also pleased to announce that Dr. Elizabeth Johnson-Young has accepted a position as a Faculty Fellow in the Center for Teaching. Elizabeth will be joining our current Faculty Fellow, Dr. Melissa Wells, in providing teaching support through consultations and program initiatives. Elizabeth brings experience in digital and online practices, as well as an interdisciplinary understanding of effective teaching, that will strengthen the Center’s continued growth and collaboration with our Digital Learning Support colleagues.

 

Nina Mikhalevsky
Provost

Important Information for Zoom Users

The following information is important for anyone using Zoom to host meetings.  If you do not use Zoom, you can disregard this message.

With the increasingly widespread use of Zoom, we’re seeing a rush of “Zoom bombing” – uninvited participants dropping into Zoom meetings to share inappropriate or distracting audio, video, or images. To prevent this, Digital Learning Support is making some changes to the default settings of our UMW-owned Zoom accounts, and offering the following safety tips for anyone using Zoom (whether a free, shared, or UMW-owned account).

  1. Avoid sharing your meeting link publicly (on social media or a public website). Share the link in a closed environment like Canvas or direct email.

  2. Change your screen sharing settings to “Host Only.” Note: If you are using a UMW-owned Zoom account, we have edited the settings to make this the default. You will need to change the settings during your meeting if you want to allow other participants to share their screen.

  3. Consider turning on the Waiting Room feature. This will require the host to approve every participant before entry into the meeting. Keep in mind that if a participant is disconnected, you will need to re-approve them for entry, so this option requires keeping an eye on your Zoom notifications during the meeting.

  4. Alternatively, consider locking your meeting (via the “Manage Participants” button in your Zoom tool tray) once all attendees are present. Keep in mind that if a participant loses connection, they will not be able to reenter unless you unlock the meeting.

Feel free to use these tools at your own discretion. Some may work for your meetings, some may not.

For more information, we recommend Zoom’s blog post on the subject: How to Keep the Party Crashers from Crashing your Zoom Event

And of course, if you have questions or run into issues, you are always welcome to contact DLS using our contact form, or by emailing dls@umw.edu.