Hello, all:

I hope this finds you well, and that you’re somehow finding the balance between being safe, and being able to eat well. I’m already at the point where I’m worried that, after this all ends, my family and I will never have pasta ever again, because it’ll always remind us of quarantine. (That said, if you have some easy pasta recipes–the kind you can make with the standard ingredients we all have at home–please do share!)

Today I’d like to feature some of the work of your colleagues, particularly examples of early e-mails or films that faculty have sent or posted to re-establish contact with students. Everyone included here has given me permission to share; feel free to contact them individually if you have questions.

I want to thank these faculty for their willingness to share their work. We’re all in first-draft mode right now. This can feel particularly risky for those of us in the academic tribe, where we pride ourselves on knowing our stuff and where there’s often a tendency to keep our work in the classroom private. But the conversation has to start somewhere. Sharing our work with each other at this time by opening our “classrooms” up to each other is essential for the good of our students. So thank you, all of you.

The first video comes from Erica Swindle, in Mathematics. I include it here because one of the things Dr. Swindle is doing is having a pre-semester check-in with students. This method has also been recommended to me by Chris Lee, my colleague at Roanoke College whom many of you met in December when he was here to discuss a mastery-based approached to testing.

A bonus of Erica’s video is that she explains to students how to use Canvas to sign-in for appointments, a technique that, of course, might be useful for all of us to learn!

Next is a video by Jim Casey in Economics, for both his intro and advanced classesDr. Casey’s video is an excellent example of how you don’t have to go high-tech to have a real impact–and to show real connection to the students:

The next video is from Michael Anderson, also an economist. Dr. Anderson’s video uses Yuja, and is set in a classroom filled, he notes, with desks that he wishes were full. Among other things, Michael does a nice job of conveying both the structure of the course and flexible options. As with almost all of the videos I’ve seen, it also conveys to students that the most important thing is that they stay healthy:

Next, I’m including a powerpoint put together by Christopher Jenney, in CBSC. Dr. Jenney’s plan is to use this powerpoint during an initial synchronous meeting, using Zoom, to lay out initial course structures for the rest of the term. Among other things, this powerpoint (attached above, with the title “C Jenney Welcome Back”), this powerpoint incorporates some of the ideas from Jeanine Stewart’s talks about Zoom etiquette and creating effective synchronous communication channels.

Finally, I’ve included several e-mail versions of student reach-outs, under the title “First-Contact, E-mail Versions.” I’ve presented three different versions, from Dr. Cristina Pinto-Bailey, Professor of Spanish and Portuguese, Dr. Neil Cunningham, Director of PE, and Professor Dave Eggert of the Law School. Each takes a slightly different approach, but all strike that nice balance between getting business done and conveying an awareness of the difficulty of our current circumstances.

Again, thanks to all the folks who were willing to share their work! Please, as the rest of you develop videos and explore technologies, continue to share ideas and examples that you think might be helpful for the rest of us.

Finally, a little levity: I never cease to be amazed by the speed with which the internet adapts to our changing circumstance. So, closing this e-mail–you guessed it–Zoom Meeting Bingo.

Thanks, all. Please take care.