Faculty Highlight: Ian O’Toole Programs Classes for Student Success

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

By Jennifer Keefe 

Professor of Computer Programming and Analysis Ian O’Toole believes that just because computers are known for lacking feelings, that doesn’t mean programming professors need to be that way. Ian, who first joined the College in 2007 as a part-time tutor in the programming lab, is now in the third year of his tenure process. His formula for student success? It comes down to empathy.

“Empathy, to me, means that I try to assume the best when I am working with students,” he explains.

“I try to understand them and what they are going through with their academic journeys and their non-academic responsibilities as well.”

Part of Ian’s empathetic approach to teaching includes finding ways to connect with students that work for them and their schedules. “Email, phone, Teams, Zoom, Canvas discussion forums or on-campus meetings — the greatest ability you can have is availability,” he says.

Ian also works hard to be approachable to his students. “I don’t try to erase the gap between professor and student, but I don’t want that gap to become a gulf we can’t communicate across,” he says. “I meet students where they are as much as I can.”

For his action research project, Ian looked at the trouble his students were having with applying and implementing the computer programming concepts they were learning. His observation: there is very little that is intuitive about a student’s first experiences with programming. That’s why he implemented his project in COP 1000, Introduction to Programming Concepts. The class is a prerequisite for most other advanced programming classes.

To help his students succeed, Ian developed a series of what he calls programming walkthroughs. These walkthroughs are short videos he created about how to write computer programming code. Each one starts with a blank screen. In the videos, Ian provides what he calls a “scaffolded approach” to solving the problem they are given.

“The goal is to get them from understanding the concept to implementing the concept to programming solutions,” Ian explains.

At the end of the lesson, students submit screenshots to prove they viewed the whole video.

Ian captured student reactions to his project via a Qualtrics survey. He says he got great feedback in the survey as well as more unsolicited positive feedback when his students sent their screenshots through Canvas. He’s still analyzing the data from his project.

Implementing his action research online during the pandemic-related campus closures worked out really well for Ian. He says it helped bridge some gaps lost by the lack of face-to-face communication and gave students some extra help with assignments.

Something Ian actually stopped doing during the pandemic has actually led to more authentic participation in his online classes. He decided to remove the number of required posts and word counts for posts from his online discussions. He also allowed students to solely reply to their classmates’ posts instead of creating their own original discussion threads. He used more open-ended discussion topics and even allowed students to use a multimedia approach to posting to discussions.

“That’s a good way to provide a more equitable approach and engage and participate on their own terms. It creates a more genuine sense of community,” Ian explains.

It turns out, the approach led to more participation in discussions and more thoughtful responses to the questions he posed.

Ian earned a master’s degree in innovation and technology as part of the inaugural class in that program at Florida Polytechnic University. He also earned a bachelor’s degree in information systems technology from Seminole State College. Oh, yeah, and Ian now teaches in the program where he earned his first academic degree, an associate degree in computer programming and analysis from our own Valencia College.

Something else you might not know about Ian is that he’s a master at making daily to-do lists. He uses OneNote every Friday to make a list of lessons to prepare for, meetings the following week and grading he needs to finish. When Monday comes, he’s ready to hit the ground running.

“I think having that opportunity to let things percolate a little helps me to get organized,” he explains.

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.


Important Associate Faculty Certification Program Reminders

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

A Message from the Faculty and Instructional Development Team

As we close out the end of the spring term, here are some important Associate Faculty Certification deadlines:

Initial Certification
If you are currently taking courses toward initial certification for the 2022 – 2023 academic year, the deadline to submit the online application is Wednesday, June 15, 2022. Initial certification requires the successful completion of a minimum of 60 professional development hours, including LCTS1110: Teaching in Our Learning College (as reflected on your Valencia faculty development transcript).

Certification Renewal
If you are seeking renewal of your certification for the 2022 – 2023 academic year, please remember to complete the application by Wednesday, June 15, 2022. Renewal certification requires the successful completion of a minimum of 20 professional development hours at Valencia. Continuing this year, with dean approval, up to five of those professional development hours may be completed outside of Valencia (see below for more external professional development option requirements).

Certification Renewal with External Professional Development Credit
With dean approval, up to five of the 20 professional development hours required for renewal may be completed outside of Valencia. For external professional development activity (conference, workshop, course, etc.) to be applied toward your Associate Faculty Certification renewal for the 2022-2023 academic year, the following requirements must be met:

  1. The external professional development activities must be related to one of the Essential Competencies of a Valencia Educator.
  2. You must seek approval from your dean to apply external professional development activities toward your Associate Faculty Certification Renewal prior to participating in the external activities. Your dean will provide all the required details, the form for documentation needed to complete the external activities and the number of professional development hours awarded (up to five per academic year) that will be applied toward the 20 professional development hours required for your renewal.
  3. Once you have completed the approved external professional development activities, submit the form with your dean’s signature along with the documentation of the completed activities as part of your Associate Faculty Renewal with external professional development application by Wednesday, June 15, 2022.

Please visit the Associate Faculty webpage for further details.

For questions, please email facultydevelopment@valenciacollege.edu.

Final Grades Due May 2

Wednesday, April 27, 2022 

As a reminder, final grades are due on Monday, May 2, 2022, at 9 a.m. If you are unsure of how to sync grades to Banner via Canvas Gradebook, please visit the Canvas Resources websiteFor an end-of-semester checklist, click here. 

If you experience any issues during the process, please contact the Center for Teaching/Learning Innovation, visit the OIT Service Desk for faculty information or contact one of the individuals below.

East and Winter Park Campuses:

Osceola, Lake Nona and Poinciana Campuses:

West and Downtown Campuses: 

April 2022 Hellos and Goodbyes


Hadley Gifford, staff assistant II, East Campus
Gustavo Urena, custodian, West Campus
Iralisse Huertas-Agosto, staff assistant II, Osceola Campus
Julio Rivera, security officer, Osceola Campus

The Black Advisory Committee Honors Students During Annual Incentive Awards

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

The Black Advisory Committee (BAC) honored students on Friday, April 8, 2022, during the 45th Annual Incentive Awards ceremony, held at the West Campus Special Events Center.

Ten students were named 2022 Incentive Award Winners. Nominated by Valencia staff or by self-nomination, this annual award is granted to students who have participated in social justice and equity initiatives for the Black/African American community and/or have achieved academic success despite adverse circumstances. To qualify, students must be degree seeking and have completed at least 12 hours of coursework at Valencia with a GPA of 2.0 or better. The Incentive Award recipients each received a $400 check and a certificate.

Three students received a $350 Eula P. Jenkins Scholarship. This scholarship is granted to nontraditional students with a GPA of 2.5 or better who have completed the Valencia Foundation’s online application.

In addition, 11 students received an African American Heritage Scholarship. To quality, students must be of African American heritage, complete at least 16 credit hours within three years, maintain a 2.5 grade point average in all course work attempted and send a thank you to the donor through the Valencia College Foundation.

For a list and biography of the recipients, click here.

If you are interested in donating to the scholarships awarded by the BAC, please visit the Valencia College Foundation. Select “Give Now” and click  BAC Incentive Awards.

Administrative Professionals Day: Thank you for Holding Us Together

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Tomorrow, April 27, 2022, is Administrative Professionals Day and we want to take a moment to thank all of our administrative professionals. Your contributions are invaluable to the College.

Your hard work doesn’t go unnoticed! Thank you for being the glue, quick thinker, problem solver and super star that holds everything together!

Feel free to give a shout out or sign of appreciation to a Valencia administrative professional in the comments below.

Valencia Partners With CareerSource Central Florida to Offer Free Summer Youth Programs

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Valencia College, in partnership with CareerSource Central Florida, is once again proud to offer Explore and Accelerate tracks — through the free Summer Youth Program — to teenagers and young adults ranging from 15-19 years of age. Registration is now open for Central Florida teens, and participants will earn up to $1,000 over the summer.

Students can apply for either the Explore track or the Accelerate track by visiting the CareerSource Central Florida website.

Participants can earn nationally recognized healthcare certifications, learn to code for a future in IT, get hands-on experience learning construction while earning certifications, study trade and logistics or become a licensed food handler through our culinary program and learn from seasoned professionals.

The Explore program consists of campus tours, classroom learning and hands-on projects. Other details about the Explore program include:

  • For young adults from 15 – 19 years of age
  • Duration: 4 weeks
  • Earn up to $1,000 in stipends
  • Explore multiple career options in top industries through hands-on projects

In the Accelerate programs, young adults will receive specialized training in various high-demand skills. More information about the Accelerate track includes:

  • For young adults from 16-19 years of age
  • Duration: 4 weeks
  • Earn up to $1,000 in stipends
  • Gain marketable industry knowledge
  • Build your professional resume
  • Earn industry certifications and technical milestones

Check out this video for more:

Learn How to Navigate Workplace Change in Upcoming EAP Session

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

It’s no secret that we’re experiencing a lot of change at the College. You’re invited to attend the EAP session, “How to Navigate Workplace Change,” which is being held just for Valencia College employees. There are two opportunities to attend.

Date: Monday, May 2, 2022
Time: 9 – 10 a.m.
Location: Zoom

Date: Thursday, May 5, 2022
Time: 1 – 2 p.m.
Location: Zoom

There is no pre-registration required.

In Memory of Judi Addelston

At the request of Judi Addelston’s daughter, we are sharing the Beth Shalom Memorial Chapel obituary in lieu of the tribute shared on Tuesday, April 27, 2022, in The Juice.

Judi Addelston, former professor, psychology passed away at the age of 56 on Saturday, April 16, 2022. Judi worked for Valencia for almost 20 years as a four-month professor of psychology from 1999 – 2002, and a 10-month tenure from 2002 until her retirement on Wednesday, August 4, 2021.

Judi was born at Doctor’s Hospital in New York, New York. She passed away peacefully, surrounded by those she loved at her home in Orlando after a long battle with ovarian cancer.

Judi is survived by her wife of nine years, Karen Dicken and their children, James Santiago Hernandez and Marizayda Torres.

Judi graduated from the elite Hunter College High School in New York. She spent her 10th grade in the “American Class” on Kibbutz Kfar Blum in Israel. She later joined the Israeli Army at the young age of 19.

Judi attended college at Cornell University, Brooklyn College in New York, and City University of New York, where she earned her doctorate in psychology. Upon moving to Florida, she attended Stetson University where she received her master’s in marriage and family therapy.

In addition to her role at Valencia, Judi was a professor at Rollins College and opened her own practice in marriage and family therapy. Judi also established and owned The Gazebo Wellness Center in Orlando.

Judi had many interests, which included traveling, reading and quilting. She also rescued many animals that became part of her family.

A celebration of life for Judi will be held on Sunday, May 15, 2022, at The Gazebo, 1928 Proctor Avenue, Orlando. The service and eulogy will occur from 12 – 1 p.m., with welcoming from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. and refreshments following the service from 1 – 2 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations to the American Cancer Society and the LGBTQ Center of Orlando. Please make donations in honor of Judi Addelston.

Show Your Support on Denim Day 2022: Submit Your Photos

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

On Wednesday, April 27, 2022, Valencia College, for the seventh year in a row, invites you to join the Victim Service Center of Central Florida (VSC) for Denim Day. We ask that you wear your best denim fashion and take a selfie or a group photo (a virtual Zoom photo is fine!) and invite you to share your photos to be used in a collage showing the collegewide commitment to supporting survivors of sexual violence.

You can find Denim Day materials including posters and Zoom backgrounds here. To be part of the collage, please send photos to equalopportunity@valenciacollege.edu. Be sure to also share your photos on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram, tag @VSCFlorida, and use the hashtags, #DenimDay and #OurValencia.

If you would like to speak with someone regarding the College’s response to reports of sexual assault, please reach out to Ryan Kane, assistant vice president, equity and access, at rkane8@valenciacollege.edu or 407-582-3421, or Trisha Whitmire, director, equal opportunity, at twhitmire2@valenciacollege.edu or 407-582-3867.

To speak with a free, confidential community resource, contact the Victim Service Center of Central Florida at its 24/7 helpline 407-500-HEAL (4325) or via their text line at 407-497-6701 Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

If you have questions or concerns, notify Ryan or Trisha at the contact information listed above or visit the Title IX and Equal Opportunity webpage.