Welcome to the first of a series of summer digest messages to our community with important information regarding teaching and learning at Furman during the COVID-19 outbreak. Previous digests are archived online (scroll to bottom of page). Please continue to check the University’s website with information about our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Faculty Development Center’s frequently asked questions. Please note that beginning next week, you’ll receive just one weekly digest each Friday afternoon.
Key Updates and Reminders for Today
Faculty/Staff Support Opportunities
Coffee and Conversation Chat Series – Join FDC facilitators and colleagues for informal conversations this summer around topics of interest that impact our teaching and learning practice during the global pandemic. Each chat will focus loosely on a theme from which our conversation will begin. Drop in on the informal conversation when you can, for as long as you can, with your favorite morning beverage. Conversations begin at 9:30am here. Our chats for the month of May include:
Student Support Updates
Our commencement experience was unlike any in years past. If you are looking for words of encouragement to share with a recent graduate, National Public Radio has you covered. In 2014, the pubic broadcast network compiled a “best of” library of 354 commencement speeches going all the way back to 1774. The resource has a quote generator, as well as a full database of speeches searchable by name, school, or year. One notable database quote comes from George Saunders, speaking at Syracuse University in 2013, who imparted one central message – to “err in the direction of kindness.”
The SART & Jeremy
Welcome to today’s edition of a series of summer digest messages to our community with important information regarding teaching and learning at Furman during the COVID-19 outbreak. Previous digests are archived online (scroll to bottom of page). Please continue to check the University’s website with information about our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Faculty Development Center’s frequently asked questions. Please note that beginning next week, you’ll receive just one weekly digest each Friday afternoon.
Faculty/Staff Support Updates
As you launch research projects with your student collaborator(s) this summer and work to implement Furman’s Best Practices of Engaged Learning like building relationships and providing feedback, you are likely considering a variety of ways to accomplish that remotely. Because of Furman’s relationship with Microsoft, you might want to consider Microsoft Teams to help facilitate student engagement and interaction. All faculty, staff, and students have a Teams license, and anyone can download Teams from the web client of Office 365. In addition to project management and video conferencing, Teams has a chat feature that keeps chat history. This free resource is available for all community members to support one-on-one, group, or small group engagement this summer.
Welcome to today’s edition of a series of summer digest messages to our community with important information regarding teaching and learning at Furman during the COVID-19 outbreak. For a repository of previous digest messages, please visit here. Additional information and answers to many of your important questions about the University’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic can be found on the University’s website and the frequently asked questions section maintained by the Faculty Development Center.
To keep you informed about messages our students are receiving during the pandemic, you can access the third weekly Student Life DINformation newsletter to students here (scroll to bottom of page).
Many of you may be finding creative outlets to process and make sense of the challenges associated with pandemic living. A Canadian Your Morning newscast recently picked up this story about a music educator who has utilized her love of music to express how she has coped with the sudden transition online this spring. The short lyrics may resonate with you at the end of a long semester.
Key Updates and Reminders
Tips and Tools for Online Instruction
Whether you are gearing up for a summer course that begins next week or thinking ahead about options for your fall courses, below is a brief snapshot of suggestions and resources for online instruction.
We hope that some of you have turned your attention to a beloved hobby or home-improvement project during our increased time at home. For many of you, this may involve a bit of peace and quiet around your favorite bird feeder, that is, until the squirrels show up… For a creative and over-the-top approach to addressing this problem through mechanical engineering, you might enjoy this video. Happy building!
Enjoy the weekend,
The SART and Jeremy
Important Updates on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Efforts
Staff/Faculty Support Opportunities
Student Support Opportunities
In the face of the long-standing legacy of racism, discrimination, and injustice that is the focus of events across the nation at the moment, there is no better time to invest deeply in the educational mission of our community to find ways to expand understanding of the root causes, broad-scale implications, and meaningful actions we can take to ameliorate these serious and painful realities for members of our community. In addition to the numerous opportunities highlighted above to engage in dialog and policy development around our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, the Faculty Development Center is assembling a list of pertinent resources to support your efforts to facilitate informed, compassionate, and civil learning about this topic.
Resources are available on the FDC Commons Moodle site under the Fostering Inclusive Learning Environments folder (available here). If you don’t currently have access to the site and would like to request it, or if you have additional resources you’d like to share, please email FDC@furman.edu.
Updates and Reminders for This Week
As our community is busy making plans for the fall, one thing is for certain: flexibility will be paramount in our efforts to facilitate a safe return to campus. As this recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education notes, flexibility is one aspect of designing a more inclusive learning experience for our students. In fact, instructional strategies like Universal Design for Learning hold adaptable, flexible course design as a hallmark of efforts to increase access and enhance participation of members of our learning community with diverse needs. Thankfully, resources to support your planning around active learning in flexible learning environments are growing significantly as we prepare for the fall. While the pandemic has forced us to consider such flexibility to maintain a safe learning environment more immediately, it is a practice that will enhance the inclusivity of our curriculum over the long-term.
As the second week of summer online courses is wrapping up, we are hearing encouraging stories from many of you about the inventive and engaging mechanisms through which you are supporting rich learning experiences for our students. Thank you for your momentous work to ensure that our students are able to explore new ideas, examine their values and beliefs, and advance collaborative and integrative thinking no matter how and where that learning takes place. As this opinion piece from the Tomorrow’s Professor blog at Stanford relates, the past couple of weeks have demonstrated, through your dedication to teaching, that robust learning and development can occur even when we don’t “share the air” with our students. Thank you for exemplifying the rich creativity and commitment of our Furman community.
Welcome to today’s edition of a series of summer digest messages to our community with important information regarding teaching and learning at Furman during the COVID-19 outbreak. For a repository of previous digest messages, please visit here. Additional information and answers to many of your important questions about the University’s reopening plans for the fall can be found on the Furman Focused website.
Our experience with remote learning this spring required many of us to consider and experiment with alternative assessment approaches to evaluate student learning in our courses. As we prepare for the fall, it will be necessary again to re-evaluate our assessment approach, focusing on the learning outcomes we have for our students and the best approaches to evaluate if and to what degree students can demonstrate the attainment of those objectives. These adaptations are timely, as they occur within a broader context of work to support more equitable assessment strategies on college campuses. Highlighted in this recent article, the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment has just released several in-depth case studies of promising practices to advance inclusive assessment. As you redesign and revision assessment practices for your fall courses, we have an opportunity to incorporate lessons from these case studies to support a more equitable campus culture and curriculum.
On that note, we wrap up our digest messages for this academic year and will take a brief hiatus in July. Look for these messages to return in August.