Monthly Archives: April 2020

Get Ready to Participate in Commencement – Sunday, May 3, 2020

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Calling all faculty! Get ready to celebrate your students — Valencia College graduates — this Sunday, May 3, 2020, for the 51st Annual Commencement Ceremony.

We are counting down to the 2020 Virtual Commencement Celebration and ask that you participate in helping to recognize this milestone accomplishment of our students. The celebration will kick-off at 9 a.m. with the launch of virtual graduation. Information about this year’s Commencement has been shared with students via social media and a targeted email to students that you can view here: Graduation Announcement.

Post, Share and Congratulate

While the College would have preferred to recognize our graduates in person, our virtual commencement will allow us to provide recognition for our graduates and an opportunity for faculty, staff, students and their families to come together to celebrate online. We encourage you to post, share and congratulate Valencia’s Class of 2020 graduates via your social media channels to make this day special.

Valencia College 2020 Virtual Commencement

Go Live: Sunday, May 3, 2020
Time: 9 a.m.
Availability: The ceremony will be available to watch (and re-watch) for the next year at the address above. However, we are asking for participation on the scheduled day of Commencement to celebrate, recognize and honor our graduates.


1. Go to:

2. Click on: Virtual Commencement Ceremony

3. Watch: Videos of encouraging and inspirational messages, including a welcome by Sandy Shugart, an address from our Distinguished Graduate Tamyia Paul, and more.

4. View: All graduates will have a slide with their name and will be organized on the site in alphabetical order by last name. You will have the option to filter by degree or search by name. (Students had the option to opt out/in of the audio recording and photo submission).

5. Celebrate on Social Media: Several options will be available to help you congratulate and celebrate graduates in a personal way.

  • Share the grad’s slide – From each graduate’s slide, you can share directly to Facebook and Twitter, or download the slide to share on Instagram. Be sure to include a congratulatory message and tag the student when you post. Use the hashtag #ValenciaGrad. Valencia College graduation social posts using #ValenciaGrad will appear on our tagboard.
  • Comment on their posts – On the tagboard located on the virtual Commencement page, you can click on students’ posts and then comment on their posts to give a personalized congratulatory message. This is a direct way to say congratulations to grads.
  • Tag @ValenciaCollege on your Twitter or Instagram posts, which could appear on the tagboard on the virtual commencement page.
  • Grab the Gear – Special Valencia graduation themed filters, frames, GIFs and other digital assets have been created to help you and our students and their families celebrate graduation on social media. Go to the 2020 Commencement Social Media Toolkit to view your and select your grad look.

Monthly Archives: April 2020

Teaching Through the Coronavirus, Together: A Small Teaching Approach to Starting Right Online

Thursday, April 30, 2020

A Message from Wendi Dew, Assistant Vice President, Teaching and Learning and Isis Artze-Vega, Vice President, Academic Affairs 

Congratulations on completing the Spring 2020 term! We hope you’re feeling proud of your awesome efforts and found a bit of time this week to rest and reflect.

With the start of the summer term only three days away, this communication focuses on modest, but powerful evidence-based teaching adjustments for improving student learning, ones that can be implemented without a great deal of time. This “small-teaching” approach was popularized by James Lang, who partnered with longtime online faculty member and instructional designer Flower Darby to extend the approach to online teaching, described in their co-authored book: “Small Teaching Online: Applying Learning Science in Online Classes,” published just last year. Below, we share several of their strategies for starting your online summer courses right and remind you how to reach out for assistance.

Last-minute Canvas Refinements 

First, if you haven’t done so already, consider sending a pre-term email to welcome students, establish an inviting learning environment, introduce the class syllabus and schedule, and provide details on required course materials. Next, we recommend directing your attention to your Canvas course(s), particularly the orientation or introduction module. In any modality, the beginning of the term sets the tone for the course, so we encourage you to use the Orientation Module Checklist, aligned with the first section of our Valencia Rubric for Online Competencies (ROC), as you get ready for Monday. Given the current climate of uncertainty and the fact that many students may still be new to online learning, it’s especially important that you include a link to resources like our “Keep Learning” webpage.

Small Teaching Ideas for Summer 

Beyond these fundamentals, consider incorporating one of Darby and Lang’s small-teaching refinements in either your orientation or an early content module:

– Explicitly describe how you’ve designed the course, how the key tasks and major assessments are intended to support students’ attainment of the learning outcomes. This enhances students’ sense of the relevance of the course activities and assignments, which is correlated with motivation. Andrea Deacon, in “Creating a Context of Care in the Online Classroom” (2012), adds that “routine communication with online students about course structure, organization and expectations” alleviates their anxiety and empowers them.

– Assign a learning outcomes review. Since reflection is key to making learning durable, Darby and Lang recommend asking students to review and respond to the course learning outcomes, which also ensures your students know what the outcomes say and mean, or can alert you to the need to clarify them.

– Communicate care. Online teaching can feel cold and impersonal, recognize Darby and Lang, who indicate that one of their favorite small-teaching ways to demonstrate they care about students is the “oops token.” Here, “students turn in a token for a no-questions-asked deadline extension, the opportunity to revise and resubmit an assignment or otherwise make up for an unexpected challenge or honest mistake.” Including a limited number of these tokens tells students you know they have real lives and may need a bit of flexibility. Deacon’s (2012) timely advice for communicating care: “anticipate student anxiety and head it off whenever possible,” and build a sense of community.

– Introduce students to the final assessment in Week 1. Given that “major assignments can get buried in endlessly nested content folders or learning modules,” Darby and Lang recommend creating “an online activity in the first week that requires students to familiarize themselves with the final assessment.” Whether it’s a low-stakes quiz, a discussion board question, or an assignment that asks students to describe the assignment purpose and tasks in their own words, this strategy increases students’ awareness of the major assessments and can help them plan and study accordingly.

Nilson and Goodson, authors of “Online Teaching at Its Best,” offer one last suggestion for the start of the term. Stressing the importance of student-instructor interaction at this critical juncture and the centrality of students’ sense of social belonging, they urge us to personalize our courses, which can entail asking students about their interests and goals, and sharing a bit of information about ourselves.

Looking ahead, the next edition in this series will be distributed in the May Faculty Insight, so we want to stress that it can be easy for students to get or appear “lost” in online courses, particularly during a shortened term like Summer A. Therefore, in addition to ensuring student engagement in an academically related activity, as part of attendance/no-show reporting, we encourage you to proactively identify and reach out directly to students who seem distant, absent or lost. Whether they’re new to online learning, a transfer/transient student with us for summer, or having trouble navigating the course, take the time to notice them, seek to understand their challenges and guide them through this new terrain.

In case it’s helpful, here are links to previous communications featuring the following topics:

Thank you for everything you do!


  • Darby, F. and Lang, J. M. (2019). Small Teaching Online: Applying Learning Sciences in Online Classes. Jossey-Bass.
  • Deacon, A. (2012). Creating a context of care in the online classroom. Journal of Faculty Development, 26(1), 5-12.
  • Nilson, L. and Goodson, Ludwika. (2018): Online Teaching at Its Best: Merging Instructional Design with Teaching and Learning Research. Jossey-Bass.

Monthly Archives: April 2020

Faculty Highlight: Cathy Mestre Enhances Online Learning

By Claudia Zequeira

Thursday, April 30, 2020 

As a veteran instructor, Cathy Mestre, professor, paralegal studies, has seen her share of change and witnessed many of the College’s growing pains. But nothing prepared her for a pandemic in the 21st century.

Like most of us, shortly after Spring Break 2020, Cathy was told she had to switch her face–to-face classes to an online format in a matter of days. That meant six out of the eight class sections she was teaching.

“At first, I was very resistant and upset about the change,” she said. “I don’t consider myself to be the most tech-savvy person.”

Regardless, Cathy, who has been with the College for 27 years, rose to the occasion. And she did it quickly.

In the very early days of Zoom, and after running into trouble accessing it, she sent an email directly to Executive Vice President and Provost Kathleen Plinske, who graciously provided her with an account so that she could log on. And when Kaltura, the video platform used in many online courses at Valencia, failed to work, she immediately reached out to faculty developers/instructional designers for help.

But beyond her use of technology — and her willingness to ask for assistance when necessary — it was her love of students, her intuition about how classes should be conducted and her strong background in pedagogy that played a decisive role in her ability to deliver engaging, robust classes.

“I took very different for each course to tailor classes to meet student success,” she said. Her guiding light, said Cathy, was the idea that the quality of education she would provide should be just as rich as what she provided in her face-to-face courses.

In the more foundational courses she teaches, Cathy decided to create a private YouTube channel and upload her lectures. This allowed students to learn new material at their convenience.

For more advanced courses, such as Advanced Real Property, she tried a different method. “We were at the most important part of that class [when we went on Spring Break]” she said. “I knew posting lectures would not work.”

So, she set up Zoom sessions in real time to help her students learn and succeed. There, students were able to look at problems and share screens in order to learn the intricacies surrounding settlement sheets and closing disclosures, the math behind real estate transactions.

In her legal writing course, which requires students to conduct legal research in a brick-and-mortar library, Cathy quickly shifted her approach and had her students access Westlaw, an online database used to conduct legal research. In addition, she set up Zoom sessions so that students could show their writing and receive live feedback from fellow students, a seminar-style approach she used in her face-to-face classes.

When asked how her students feel about their redesigned courses, Cathy, said she thought they were appreciated.

“I think the proof is in the attendance,” she said, adding that she is enjoying an 85% attendance rate in her converted online courses, a rate similar to that of courses taught prior to coronavirus disrupting life as we know it.

But she was quick to credit Valencia’s flexibility, support and teamwork approach with her own success.

“We have amazing instructional designers,” she said. “If I have a question, they get back to me within seconds. I’m incredibly grateful. They have allowed me to be very creative.”

She also praised Carin Gordon, dean, business, information technology and public services, and her department for supporting her along the way.

Cathy also wished to give kudos to Ashley Cabrera, multimedia designer, distance learning, for going above and beyond the call of duty, including working weekends and responding to her requests for assistance immediately.

“I felt whenever I was struggling, there was always someone there who would get back to me,” she said. “That’s what encouraged me to do things beyond what I was originally comfortable with. I hope the College expands this model, because it works.”

Do you know a faculty member doing great work? Or, perhaps you’d like to share the work you’re doing? Send the colleague’s (or your) name to us at and include Faculty Highlight Nomination in the subject line of your email. We might just feature your colleague (or you) as an upcoming Faculty Highlight.

Monthly Archives: April 2020

Faculty Governance Update — April 2020

Thursday, April 30, 2020 

A Message from Stanton Reed, President, Collegewide Faculty Association 

Greetings, faculty. First of all, I’d like to say thank you. Thank you to our deans, our faculty, our staff and the amazing Teaching and Learning team as we switched from face-to-face and mixed-mode to fully online courses. Secondly, I’d like to thank all for responding so quickly to the emails I sent asking for your various opinions on the enhanced grading policy for the spring semester. Additionally, thank you to the Student Affairs team for untiringly supporting and advising students as they make informed grading decisions. Your Valencia collaborative spirit is amazing even when not all opinions and ideas could be implemented. This was a heavy lift, especially for our deans, who offered patience and consideration in supporting us as we worked with the best interest of our students in mind. Thank you all for supporting our students.

With summer term coming, for many of us, this will be our first time delivering our courses fully online. Yet, I know, for some, you may not yet feel entirely comfortable with this modality. Please know that it’s okay to have some hesitation. We seek things we have control over; yet, we don’t have control over everything at this time. Show yourself some grace. Show others grace, too. You’ve got this!

Remember that if you are feeling the impact, our students are impacted too. Now’s the time to reach out to your students, show empathy and encourage them to keep moving forward and not to be too hard on themselves.

During Academic Assembly, I challenged each of you to read a book on equity and belonging. Although it’s easy to throw a challenge out the door during difficult times, I encourage you to continue reading about this important topic. Now equity takes on a new lens, as we’ve discovered the inequities of our students’ personal access to Wi-Fi, webcams and computers. Let’s enrich ourselves by reading, so we can look at things differently and work to redefine our spaces with equity in mind. This is an opportunity to really see the impact that minoritized people really experience, especially in this pandemic.

On a business note, as we get back into the swing of things, the Faculty Association met via Zoom on Thursday, April 9 2020, where we checked in and supported each other and discussed faculty leadership on campuses. With our campus closure, some campuses are still holding elections for certain positions in their Faculty Assembly or Faculty Senate. If your campus has remaining openings, please watch for an email from your campus faculty leadership on how to vote for officers. We look forward to having officers elected by the Thursday, May 14, 2020, meeting.

I am fortunate to be surrounded by so many compassionate, concerned and caring colleagues. I appreciate your holding me accountable for representing you in my position. We continue to take care of each other as well as being sensitive to our students’ academic, social and mental well-being. At Valencia, we say you can!

Monthly Archives: April 2020

Provost Update

Thursday, April 30, 2020

A Message from Kathleen Plinske, Executive Vice President and Provost

The close of the Spring term was marked by a mix of emotions – perhaps a sense of accomplishment, maybe a sigh of relief, and possibly even a bit of grief for what has been lost as a result of the pandemic. Even during this extremely trying time, I believe that there is much to celebrate and much for which to be thankful. I am profoundly grateful for all of your remarkable efforts to support our students over the last several weeks, which included:

  • the transition of more than 4,000 classes to the online environment to allow students to continue their learning this term;
  • the creation of a Virtual Answer Center to provide students with expanded access to our Student Affairs team;
  • the creation of an online tutoring hub to support students’ learning;
  • the implementation of two new grade options to mitigate negative academic consequences for students, and;
  • the completion of more than 32,000 outbound phone calls to students to check in with them and offer our support.

Any one of these would have been an extraordinary accomplishment under normal circumstances. The fact that they were all completed simultaneously, in just a few short weeks, in the midst of a global pandemic, is nothing short of extraordinary. Thank you for all that you have done; please know that you have made a difference for our students.

Time to Celebrate
While we aren’t able to host our traditional commencement ceremony this year, I encourage you to visit our Virtual Commencement Celebration page beginning at 9 a.m. on Sunday, May 3, 2020. You’ll be able to hear from our Distinguished Graduate Tamyia Paul, as well as see slides of all of our graduates. Please also consider celebrating with our newest alumni on social media to recognize their outstanding achievement. For more details, please visit The Grove.

Planning Ahead for Summer
As we look ahead to the start of our Summer term on Monday, May 4, 2020, please allow me to share two reminders:

  • Consider sending your students a pre-term email– reaching out to your students prior to Monday will allow you to welcome them, establish an inviting learning environment, introduce the class syllabus and schedule, and provide details on required course materials. Remember that for many of our students, this will be their first fully online course in which they have enrolled. Many students worry that they will not feel a sense of personal connection in online classes, and this is an opportunity to begin to develop a good rapport with them. You can reach out to your students prior to Monday by sending a pre-course message through Canvas, or by sending a message through Atlas.
  • Remember to design an academically-related activity for the first week – not only is it good practice to engage students in a learning-related activity early in your online class, federal financial aid and Valencia policy require that online attendance is documented during the no-show reporting period in accordance with student engagement in an academically-related activity. Please plan for students to complete at least one of the following activities during the first week of classes:
    • Submit an online assignment.
    • Take an online assessment.
    • Participate in an online discussion about academic matters.
    • Complete an online interactive tutorial or computer-assisted instruction that is trackable.
    • Initiate contact with the faculty member to ask a question about the academic subject studied in the course.

Once again, thank you for all of your extraordinary efforts this Spring and in preparation for Summer. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with such talented and dedicated colleagues.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions, suggestions, or concerns.

Take good care.

Monthly Archives: April 2020

Canvas Update — SpeedGrader

Thursday, April 30, 2020

A Message from Geni Wright, Director, Online Teaching and Learning 

There’s now an easier way to open SpeedGrader in the Grades tab inside of Canvas.

To open SpeedGrader, click on the three dots next to any assignment in the gradebook. The SpeedGrader tool will appear in the drop-down menu. When selected, SpeedGrader opens to the first student submission according to the filter set in the gradebook.

Monthly Archives: April 2020

Announcing a New, One-stop Location for Library Videos and Tutorials

Thursday, April 30, 2020 

Valencia College librarians recently created a handy resource that houses all library videos and tutorials in one place — the Library Videos and Tutorials Guide.

In addition to video content, the guide lists Valencia library content available in the Canvas Commons, such as documents and full modules with built-in assessment components.

The guide serves as a one-stop shop for students looking for library content to clarify a concept or brush up their skills, while faculty can use the guide to discover library content to embed in Canvas.

Monthly Archives: April 2020

Making a Difference in Teacher Education: Yasmeen Qadri

Thursday, April 30, 2020

A Message from Yasmeen Qadri, Professor, Education 

“Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher” — Japanese proverb

The pandemic we are all currently surrounded by has made our lives miserable, stressed out and fearful. It is said that character is not made in crisis but demonstrated in crisis. I am blessed to have students who inspire me and, through our virtual connections, I realized that my students were trying to put into practice what they learned in their teacher education classes this semester.

Students in my classes were learning about the characteristics of effective teachers beyond their own textbooks and course outlines. Topics such as passion, dedication, patience, empathy, peace and self-confidence were modeled, and the future teachers were supported in practicing them in their daily lives.

Our classroom was a learning community where each cared about the other. In addition, students were engaged in interfaith, cross-cultural conversations on topics such as economic and racial injustice, multilingual education, war and refugees, special education, gender issues and immigration. Most important of all, they believed that teachers touch the future and are empowered to help build better societies. Joseph Addison rightly said, “What sculpture is to a block of marble, education is to a human soul.”

With all the above in mind, I thought I would share a few important life lessons that my students learned and used to thrive in their future teaching careers.

Lesson 1: Teaching is a Valuable Profession.

During the pandemic, students were able to reflect on choosing teaching as a career. Through their service learning hours, they were able to aid those in need, whether it was as mentors or as teacher assistants. They always stepped up to help their classmates and provide support to those in need. “Teaching is service to humanity and we cannot be successful teachers if we miss opportunities to make a difference,” said one student.

“I wish I can reach out to those who have no parental support or are struggling to meet the basics,” sighed another student.

With children at home, I hope teachers are more valued and respected by parents and society at large. Students were discouraged to become teachers by family due to lack of respect and low wages. The COVID-19 shutdown of schools is giving an opportunity for parents to realize how challenging and tiresome it is to teach their own children, hopefully resulting in more appreciation and recognition of teachers. Students had to reflect on Cicero’s quote “What noble employment is more valuable to the state than that of the man who instructs the rising generation?” Not just rising, we must help the sinking ones too.

Lesson 2: Global Citizenship in Teacher Education

Global citizenship education is not a new idea for my students. Every year during Global Peace Week on campus my students attend the events and write reflections on them. By being engaged in Global Peace Week students organize their own 3 Cs Series Seminars: Courageous Conversations on Chai. While having Indian tea and Greek baklava, students are encouraged to open conversations on controversial topics while respecting differences.

Although there are College efforts on inclusion, there are still some who feel marginalized. We must make strides to progress from the “tolerated” level to the higher “valued” level of inclusion. Unfortunately, some (students/faculty/administration) continue to cling on the “us” versus “them” mentality and are not able to see beyond local or value globalization.

We must all strive to develop global citizens with a global mindset, with a deeper concern for global interdependence and focus on human value. COVID-19 helped us understand that globalization is not a foreign concept anymore; it has entered our lives and our homes. Fortunately, this virus has awakened the spirit of global citizenship that we hope will continue once the pandemic ends.

Lesson 3: Resilience and Optimism are Essential Skills for Teacher Educators

The American Psychological Association defines resilience as “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress … As much as resilience involves ‘bouncing back’ from these difficult experiences, it can also involve profound personal growth.”

My philosophy of teaching is to make sure my students are connected to collegewide initiatives and benefit from all the valuable programs that Student Development, the Peace and Justice Institute, International Education and others have to offer our students. I make stress management, time management and conflict management topics of intentional teaching.

The success of our future teachers, I believe, will be in how well they will deal with the challenges of real-life and human differences.

As a class, I engage students in these very topics that may not be covered in their textbooks or course outlines. In this way, they learn to develop behaviors, thoughts and actions that can make them resilient teachers. Increasing resilience in our students requires time and intentional teaching.

I believe that focusing on the four components: learning community, wellness, positive thinking and purpose can help develop stronger teachers and a better school. What better time than during the current crisis to teach about resilience in teacher education? Teaching is the greatest act of optimism. Hats off to all teachers!

Monthly Archives: April 2020

Share Your Ideas With the Teaching and Learning Team

Thursday, April 30, 2020 

Do you have innovative ideas to share with other faculty members? Are you interested in hosting a faculty-to-faculty engagement hour or reading circle with colleagues over Zoom? Do you have a need that the Teaching and Learning team could address? Please share your ideas in the following short survey, and the Teaching and Learning team will be in touch.


Monthly Archives: April 2020

New Just-in-time Faculty Development Courses Offered; Plus Resources and Support

Thursday, April 30, 2020  

During this time of rapid movement to online teaching, we look to our seasoned leaders in online learning to guide the way. The Just-in-time Faculty Development Series offers short, targeted development opportunities brought to you by online learning leaders and strategically offered during relevant points in the academic term. Whether there is new educational technology like Zoom or helpful tips for sending Canvas final grades to Banner, this series has something for everyone at just the right time. To find the latest, essential session, visit the new Just-in-time Courses webpage on the Faculty Development website.

The next course in the series is:

Authentic Assessment (ASMT2910)
Learn just-in-time-for-summer collaborative activities to adjust your course-level assessments and enhance your capacity for authentic assessment in online courses.

Date: Friday, May 1, 2020
Time: 9 – 10 a.m.
Location: Zoom

Date: Friday, May 1, 2020
Time: 3 – 4 p.m.
Location: Zoom

Additional Resources and Support

This summer, the Teaching and Learning team will direct efforts toward supporting hundreds of faculty in attaining Digital Professor Certification. This means you will continue to engage with your teaching and learning colleagues in new ways. The new “Classroom to Canvas” resource provides a crosswalk from your classroom practices to Canvas alternatives. Here are a few additional resources and ways to seek support:

– To reach out to a member of the Teaching and Learning team for assistance, please use the  Faculty Support Request.

– There are multiple methods to access help with Canvas. Select the Help button at the bottom of the left-hand menu inside Canvas to access the following options:

      • Chat with Canvas Support 24/7. Chat live with someone from Canvas to get support for any issues you are experiencing.
      • Support Hotline 407-299-5000, extension 5600 – Speak 24/7 with a Canvas support agent.
      • Create a Support Ticket – Submit a ticket when you need to ask a question but can’t stay on the phone or chat live.

– Visit the Canvas Resources website for existing and new resources.