A Message from Kathleen Plinske, President, Osceola, Lake Nona, and Poinciana Campuses
Nayda Cruz, administrative assistant to the Osceola Campus dean of science, is a familiar friendly face around the Osceola Campus. Nayda has been working hard to support her division as we work remotely, and her supervisor, Anitza San Miguel, says, “She has done an outstanding job assisting me and our faculty through the transition. I could not have asked for a better administrative assistant.”
A Message from Kathleen Plinske, President, Osceola, Lake Nona, and Poinciana Campuses
It’s skillshop planning time! We are planning to offer Skillshops for fall 2020 in a virtual format. Therefore, all Skillshops will be collegewide and not campus-based. Please feel free to collaborate with someone on another campus to submit a single proposal on a topic from your subject area.
As a reminder, the mission of the skillshop program is to provide students with co-curricular learning opportunities to help them:
Foster skills in the areas of emotional, social, cultural, career development and financial literacy
Develop holistically through the implementation of the seven dimensions of wellness
Learn skills and techniques to become better students and lifelong learners
Please make sure to review the Skillshops Intended outcomes and guidelines, which are outlined on the proposal form, as you design and submit your proposal. Skillshops that do not adhere to the guidelines will not be approved.
A Special Message from Sandy Shugart, Valencia College President
I hope you are thriving in this new work environment, making the best of it for a while longer, and that another college communication won’t be burdensome to you. I thought, however, it was time for a routine update … well, maybe not so routine.
I can’t tell you how impressed and grateful I am at the rapid response to the health crisis and pivot to online courses and remote services you all accomplished for our students. Thank you. More than 4,000 classes were moved online in less than two weeks along with tutoring, advising, financial aid, business services and nearly every other operation at the College.
We started nearly every meeting during this time by reminding ourselves that we have two clear goals: 1) to protect the health and safety of our community, and 2) to ensure continuity of learning for our students. I think the results are remarkable. Even with the introduction of a whole new “no fault” course withdrawal process and the pandemic raging, our spring course success rates (A, B, C or S+ grade) remained consistent with 79% of students earning a passing grade. Some 6,986 students elected the R20 plan — allowing them to withdraw with no penalty and retake, most at no cost. Of these, 71% continued in the summer term. This a major accomplishment that will enable many more students to continue learning and progressing toward their degrees.
Immediately on the heels of the conversion of the spring term, the entire summer schedule was redesigned to be nearly entirely online and accessible to both the existing students from the spring term and to those newly out of work and seeking to improve their education. As we have been expecting in time of growing unemployment, our enrollment has grown dramatically — summer term is up 17.4% in credit hours and 10.6% in headcount, meaning there are both more students and they are taking heavier loads. It is a sign of our commitment to access and academic momentum, and a tribute to the great collaboration among our deans, discipline coordinators, program chairs and faculty members to create a schedule that can accommodate such growth, a feat that will need to be repeated in the fall term.
2020-2021 Budget and CARES Act Funding
Yesterday, the District Board of Trustees approved the main features of a budget for the coming year and the College’s plan for utilizing federal funds for emergency relief to students (CARES Act funds). In spite of some shaky state funding and the anticipated loss of some international student fees, the hawse have built a solid budget to support our growth. The key features of the budget include:
Enrollment growth contributing 5% more revenue;
No increase in tuition rates (seventh year in a row);
Some loss of international students in the near term;
Continued support of online development and learning;
Compensation increases for all employees;
Tenured and tenure track faculty will receive a step increase plus a 1% adjustment to the baseline; and
All other eligible full-time and part-time faculty and staff members will receive a 2.5% increase, except for the senior staff (me, the campus presidents and vice presidents), who asked not to be given raises this year. Employees at or above the maximum of the pay grade will receive a lump sum payment equivalent.
Important initiatives will continue to be supported.
Much more detail will be forthcoming on the budget, and the board should approve the final budget in June. Meanwhile, in the next couple of weeks, there will be several Budget Town Hall meetings to explain the budget and what it is meant to accomplish. You are all invited to attend, virtually, of course.
The board also approved our plan for distributing nearly $14 million in emergency relief funds to eligible students. Next week, all eligible students will be notified for the first round of applications and funding. Eligible students will receive $750 to help offset the costs of disruption to their education by the pandemic. More details can be found in the CARES Act Emergency Student Aid Disbursement Plan.
Fall 2020 and Plans for Reopening
You may hear about other colleges’, universities’ and organizations’ plans to reopen. Our plans are being shaped by collaborative design teams on course scheduling for the fall term and what we are calling our Roadmap to Reopening. In both cases, Valencia is taking a conservative, science-based, learning-centered approach that will minimize health risk and future disruptions to learning. You can expect to hear much more on this on or around Monday, June 15, 2020.
Again, let me express my thanks to you all for making Valencia such an amazing, mission-centered place of learning. We may feel, sometimes, that our “ship” is in a heavy storm with all the waves of change we’ve had to absorb. Don’t fret. We will more than weather the storm. We have a place on the horizon toward which we are all sailing. We’ll never lose sight of it.
Thank you for all you’ve done and continue to do to support each other and our students.
*Note: The Osceola Campus election for an at-large representative was delayed until the Faculty Council discussed whether faculty members’ assigned equal time at two campuses can serve on the Osceola Campus Senate. Bryan Spangler, professor, EMS, is running unopposed for vice-president. Zach Marion, professor, English, will serve out the second year of his two year term as at-large representative. Osceola campus elections will close on June 3.
Thank you to this fine group of leaders for stepping up to volunteer for these roles. I assure you that faculty involvement is important in the governance process of the College so faculty voices are heard (and from my experience as Faculty Association president, I can tell you that faculty members are, indeed, being heard). My years in Faculty Association leadership roles have been extremely rewarding for me personally and professionally, as they’ve expanded my view of the College and how it works. I’ve learned so much that I’m actually sad to see my role as Faculty Association president coming to an end.
During the meeting, we also discussed the College’s response to the pandemic and shared challenges. A few of the challenges shared by faculty were:
Faculty requests are being sent out with a quick turn-around time for faculty.
Some faculty feel they are not being included in important meetings that they should be included in.
New Student Experience faculty reported confusion in the process to decide/communicate what their responsibilities would be for the summer.
I will take your feedback to our Senior Team.
I’d like to share a special kudos to those team members who worked on our Commencement. Holding a virtual ceremony for our graduating students was no small feat, and what was involved to pull that off was nothing short of heroic. I know we’ve learned from it and the agility of those involved is indeed praiseworthy. Thank you again! Also, I’d like to thank the The Valencia College African Heritage Committee for hosting its book club conversation on Michelle Obama’s book, “Becoming.” I had a wonderful time participating in the conversation. Also, a shout out to our Equity and Access team for arranging this year’s Reading Circles on equity and belonging, as well the many hosts from across the College leading those discussions. Our conversations fit into the larger context of our communities and nation. I pause to acknowledge the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd.
If you’re not familiar with the stories, please take the time to research them. The work of equity, belonging and social justice remains relevant and worthy of our time and effort as we educate our students.
Faculty, thank you for all your support, patience, resilience and grit. This will be a season to be remembered. We have forged ahead, together, in ways no one would have thought possible. We responded to survey requests with a one-day turnaround. We have been in spaces with each other, family, and for some, by yourselves. We’ve become familiar with a new vocabulary and practices such as social distancing, washing your hands until you shed skin, designer masks, toilet paper equivalent to gold, being quarantined, and, last but not least, Zoom, the meaning of which has been changed for us forever. And yet, for many this has been a time to reset and reflect on what we value. While we have been given time to slow down and embrace each other and our country during this pandemic, I realize that for some on our Valencia team this has been a time of anguish. I offer my deepest condolences to faculty members who may have suffered the loss of family and friends over the past few months.
As we create space to learn and grow at Valencia, let’s respect, welcome and learn from the stories that enter our learning spaces. Let’s be available with wonder, encouragement and understanding. Paraphrasing Stephen Covey … Let our most cherished skill be to listen and seek understanding. We thrive through this, together.
By Val Woldman, Professor, Humanities, and Linda Neal, Dean, Communications
Last year, the Academic Integrity Work Team shared a list of recommendations for promoting academic integrity in online learning environments — among them, that Valencia invest in a remote proctoring solution. And this March, upon the abrupt move to online learning at scale, faculty requested this technology more than any other. Thanks to the support of colleagues in the Office of Information Technology and Teaching and Learning, the online exam proctoring services of Honorlock became available to faculty within Canvas on Thursday, May 7, 2020.
Honorlock is an on-demand, online, remote-proctoring program integrated within the Canvas Quiz tool. Included in our suite of learning and assessment strategies, Honorlock can help ensure the authenticity of student work.
In an Honorlock-enabled Canvas Quiz, students must agree to be recorded via their webcam (it will not work on a phone or tablet) while taking the quiz, test or exam, and they validate their identity by showing a photo ID before they can begin the test. Once an exam is complete, faculty can review the results, including the entire recorded test session and a detailed incident report. This report includes “incident flags,” which indicate something the instructor may need to review (student leaving the testing area, the presence of non-permitted materials or another person in the room, student opening another browser tab, etc.).
Is Online Proctoring Right for Your Class?
To determine if online remote proctoring (Honorlock) is right for your class, consider the following questions: Are proctored exams (either in class or in the testing center) a usual component of the class? Are exams a required component of the class? Might alternative methods of assessment be appropriate, rather than proctored exams?
Faculty would also benefit from discussing this decision with their dean to share their preparation for deploying this tool, to ensure students are notified of the webcam requirement and to explore alternative methods for students who do not have access to the required materials, particularly the webcam.
Preparing Students and Managing Expectations
Since many of our students may never have taken an online proctored exam, the Academic Integrity work team suggested that faculty opting to use Honorlock complete the following early in the term:
1. Communicate the webcam and photo ID requirement to students (welcome email, syllabus statement or in your Canvas course);
2. Post an announcement during the first week of class notifying students that online quizzes and/or exams will require online proctoring, the date of the first proctored quiz/exam, and a link to the Student FAQ;
3. Survey students to determine their technology needs. (To access the survey template, search Canvas Commons for “Online Proctoring First Week Survey”);
4. Provide students with a practice opportunity to experience online proctoring before the first test; and
5. Follow up with students who have not completed the practice test or did not have the required materials (computer, webcam or internet connection).
A Message from Wendi Dew, Assistant Vice President, Teaching and Learning and Isis Artze-Vega, Vice President, Academic Affairs
This past Monday, we honored our nation’s fallen heroes with Memorial Day — a date which, to many Americans, signals the start of summer. For many of us, however, the signposts that punctuate our lives reside in academic calendars. Whether you’re marking the end of the K-12 school year, are two weeks away from completing another academic term and/or are two weeks from starting a new one, this communication offers reminders for each stage. Given that an unconventional fall term awaits all of us, we also describe how four Valencia faculty members are reflecting on their spring and summer terms to prepare for fall.
Summer Teaching Milestones
As of today, school’s out for students in both Orange and Osceola County public schools. If you’ve been playing the role of teacher for the past couple of months, we encourage you to pause and commemorate this milestone. Endings can frame how we look at the future, so you may want to try one of blogger Liz Taylor’s activities for ending the school year with a focus on social and emotional health. You might even join your kids in writing a “letter to my future self,” so that you too can articulate where you hope to be in May 2021.
This letter-writing activity works just as well as a reflective exercise for our students. Those of you teaching during Summer A can easily incorporate it into your end-of-term plans. If you ask students to write a letter giving advice to future students of the class, for instance, they benefit from reflecting on the effectiveness of the strategies they used; and you, in turn, gather invaluable feedback to use the next time you teach the class. Other closing/wrap-up course activities include asking students to identify the central course concepts or take-away points, or to speculate on future questions or challenges related to the class topic. The value of asking students to look back at what they’ve learned so far is that it helps them synthesize and consolidate their learning.
Faculty scheduled to teach during Summer B might revisit last month’s article in which we offered “small teaching” suggestions, modest but powerful evidence-based teaching adjustments for improving student learning, ones that can be implemented without a great deal of time.
How Faculty Are Preparing for a Mostly Online Fall Term
As shared in a recent Provost Update, the Fall Schedule Design Team has recommended that we offer the majority of our fall 2020 courses in an online modality, reserving face-to-face and mixed-mode sections for courses that cannot be offered online. In light of this announcement, and with approximately three months between now and the start of the fall term, we checked in with a few Valencia faculty to ask what they have been learning about online teaching and what advice they would offer their fellow faculty members.
Mahendra Gossai, professor, computer programming and analysis, says he has learned the value of planning ahead and of a thorough orientation module, which “ensures that students have the right foundation before taking on the learning material.” He encourages his colleagues to begin each term by explaining how the course works, what materials students need and encouraging communication. Mahendra also finds it valuable to learn from each module, asking: “What can you do to improve the next one?”
Karen Borglum, professor, speech, who was new to fully online teaching in the spring, learned that she needs to “lock” each module, so students wouldn’t jump ahead and can instead progress through the course together. Karen also saw firsthand the value of multiple ways of communicating with students, including an announcement each Monday to start the week, reminder emails to help students stay on track, the chat feature in Canvas during office hours and an optional Zoom meeting once a week during office hours to help students with the most challenging concepts or assignments for that module.
Johnie Forsythe, teaching math coordinator and experienced online faculty, turns to her colleagues for their help in refining her course material. For instance, she asks colleagues to take an assessment as if they are a student and requests their feedback on the experience. “Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable to share and receive feedback,” she advises. “Doing this was easier when we were in our offices and could walk down the hall and ask a question or share an assessment, [yet] we still can live in the spirit of that work by adding people to each other’s Canvas courses, having Zoom sessions and working together.”
Aida Diaz, professor, Spanish and foreign languages, echoes the value of learning from and with colleagues, noting, “In helping my colleagues with the DPC [Digital Professor Certification] this summer, I too have picked up ideas on how to improve my courses.”
What keeps Aida going and motivated to continue to refine her practice? “I always think of the student,” she said. “What do I want them to know and how will I know it? Whether it is F2F or online, I want my students to be successful, and I want to provide them with the tools for their success.”
Karen, too, finds motivation in her students, her responsibility to them and the impact of our work: “We are all experiencing something unprecedented at the same time, and we need to help each other get through this unsettling experience,” she shared. “One of the ways I can help is to be available to my students; they want to continue their education, so I have to be prepared. I have time to learn new things, and I should use my time productively.”
At the same time, Karen is giving herself a great deal of grace and reminds her colleagues new to online teaching that, as when teaching in person for the first time, some things won’t go as planned. “You try something and learn what worked and what didn’t,” she advises, “and you try again.”
How are our faculty doing all of this in the context of remote working and living? Mahendra is carefully managing his time. “I let students know that I am always available to help, but it is not always immediate,” he shared. “I set up a communication policy along with my engagement hours to let students know when I am available and how quickly I can return emails.” He also advises setting limits so that you don’t burn yourself out. In doing so, Mahendra also models boundary-setting for students, who may be newer to learning online and still be unsure about how to manage their time best.
Aida is taking things one day at a time, and in partnership with colleagues. “I work closely with several of my colleagues and brainstorm on how we can improve our classes.”
Karen, in turn, has developed a new routine with daily “work hours” in a separate room with a door, so she won’t be disturbed by her family. She also gets dressed for work; “it is a little more casual, but it isn’t pajamas.” Karen has also started to re-think the notion of work/life balance: “For so long, I thought of balance as work Monday-Friday, and then Saturday/Sunday was personal time … but, what if we thought about balance as some work, some family time and some personal time every day?”
Whatever your new routine entails, we echo CNN Health’s reminder that summer 2020 may differ from previous summers but is not completely canceled. They suggest 100 things we can do with or without kids — from living room dance parties to finally using those kitchen gadgets gathering dust on a shelf somewhere. We hope you’ll take some time to rest, connect with loved ones, whatever you need — all while keeping your safety and that of your community in mind.
When the pandemic hit Central Florida, Amanda Kern, professor, graphic design, was on an airplane taking her son to see a doctor about a possible surgery. Little did she know that, upon returning home, the College would switch most of its classes to an online format in a matter of days.
For Amanda, the switch was not exactly a challenge. As a veteran online instructor, she has taught multiple online sections of courses such as Web Essentials, a class that teaches HTML coding and CSS, and other highly technical graphic design courses. But for her colleagues, the change came as a bit of a shock, she said.
“Colleagues who had avoided teaching online or using Canvas were now turning to me for support,” said Amanda. “Many were sharing that they wished they had listened to my encouraging nudge over the years to teach online or to use Canvas to supplement their course. Fortunately, it’s never too late to learn, and I admire so many of the faculty who have been thrown into this new world of teaching online who are now learning new teaching practices and technologies.”
Amanda, who worked through her bachelor’s degree from Savannah College of Art and Design online and has experienced the full potential of remote learning, spent the rest of her spring break coming up with a list of helpful resources for her colleagues. Amanda hopes this list, which is included below, can be used by others as a point of reference for successful online teaching.
Zooming with Colleagues
Although she had not used Zoom in the classroom prior to this crisis, Amanda did have several years of experience using it for her nonprofit work and in her studies at the University of Central Florida. During the crisis, she spent time with colleagues testing the conferencing application and sharing other tools they had access to, like Skype and Big Blue Button. However, Zoom turned out to be her team’s best option for conferences and meetings.
Zooming and Screencasting with Students and Faculty
Amanda now holds weekly Zoom meetings with her classes. She credits Valencia’s faculty development courses with her improved skills. She also schedules meetings using Calendly, a scheduling application that syncs with Zoom and allows her to share her “open hours.” When schedules don’t permit synchronous discussions remotely, students email questions and Amanda is able to record a screencast online to answer them. Videos can be sent easily through the Canvas inbox and are a convenient way to allow the student to review material as needed. Amanda also uses screencasts to help colleagues who have never taught online. In recent weeks, she has assisted some of them with setting up their Canvas courses.
Amanda relied on Slack, a team-based communication application, to connect with colleagues. She and other members of Valencia’s graphics division had created a group to communicate two years ago. Over the past month, the team has seen a huge uptick in interaction as faculty are turning to it to receive support, share tips and keep one another updated. Another group is also being used for graphics students. Known as the Slack Work Team, the group now serves as a portal for students to request assistance and communicate.
The Valencia Graphics YouTube Channel is increasingly being used to share instructional videos with students. Faculty, said Amanda, are now “excited with the possibilities this opportunity presents for them to ‘flip’ their classroom when we can return to the classroom so they can more effectively engage students.” Amanda added that lab assistants are currently helping faculty caption videos to ensure they are accessible.
Yac is a messaging application that enables teams to send asynchronous voice or screen-recorded messages to other team members. Amanda tried it at the suggestion of Reyna Perez, soon-to-be part-time faculty of graphic design.
“I’ve been able to share ideas, questions and thoughts more quickly than any other communication tool. It saves me so much time from having to export or upload screencasts and is a huge blessing when I have a thought to share but may be tired of typing,” she said.
“Even those of us who have been teaching online for years realize there’s always more to learn,” she said. “I’ve been excited to see new professional development opportunities.”
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 The_Grove@valenciacollege.edu 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.
The library is offering a Research Workshops course via Zoom and modules to help students with research assignments.
The self-enroll course offers live Zoom sessions and self-paced modules to help students with their research assignments. Each session and module focuses on a different component of the research process and provides practical information and tips that students can incorporate into their papers or projects.
The course works as a companion to research assignments. Faculty may assign students the entire course to complete or select specific modules or live sessions for them. Upon completion of a module or attendance at a live session, students will take an assessment in order to earn a badge. The badges are stored within the course and can be used to verify that module or live session requirements have been met.
Here’s how it works:
Instructors are encouraged to enroll before assigning the course to students. This will provide an opportunity to view the modules and live sessions to see which topics will help students the most with your assignment
The self-enroll link is the same for both instructors and students.
Instructors share the Research Workshops self-enroll course link with students.
Students enroll in the course and complete the assigned modules or attend a specific live session. They will then earn the appropriate badges.
Students submit the badges as proof to their instructor that they have completed the assignment.
Provide the last date of attendance (LDA) for all students who never engaged in the course, who stop attending during the term or who received a failing grade in your class as the end of the term in your final class roster (remember to scroll to the side).
Our summer no-show reporting period is as follows:
Second Eight-week Courses (TWK): Tuesday, June 9 – Thursday, June 18, 2020
Second Six-week Courses (H2): Wednesday, June 24 – Saturday, July 4, 2020
Please identify students who have never attended your class(es) and report them as a no-show following the steps below, found in Atlas on the faculty tab.
Go to your Final Grade Roster in ATLAS.
To report a student as a no-show, Enter a “W”for the student you are reporting as never attending your class in the final grade roster.
Enter the Last Date of Attendance “LDA” (the first day of classes is your LDA when reporting a student as a no-show).
Please remember to pay close attention to the on-screen alerts regarding grades remaining, missing last date of attendance values and unsaved changes. Also, please keep in mind that Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox are browsers that work well with final grade entry.
If you miss the deadline to report your students as a no-show, please complete and submit a PDF change of grade form available through the Admissions/Records Office. For important dates and deadlines for 2019-20, refer to our calendar.
Remember that during the no-show reporting period, student records are updated, which may hold students financially responsible if they are reported as a no-show.
If you experience any issues during the no-show reporting process, please contact: