ReFocus Online – Week 3 Update

From: “Victoria Russell (vrussel3)” <>
Date: Monday, June 29, 2020 at 9:51 AM
To: “Victoria Russell (vrussel3)” <>
Cc: Digital Learning Support <>
Subject: ReFocus Online News-Week 3 (June 29th edition)

Welcome to Week 3 of ReFocus Online: Content Creation and Curation!

  • Website
    The Week 3 webpage is now open and full of information to begin creating accessible content and supporting student comprehension.
  • Week 3 Interactive Workshop
    • The link for today’s workshop was sent out this morning to everyone who registered by Friday. Please check your email and we’ll see you at 2:00!
    • If you submitted a late registration request, we will reach out to you later this morning.
  • Week 3 Virtual Q&A
    This week’s Virtual Q&A will occur on Wednesday, July 1st from 3-4 p.m.

    • A link for the Virtual Q&A will be sent out Wednesday morning by 9 a.m. Registration is NOT required for the Virtual Q&A sessions.
    • A form to submit questions ahead of time will be available on the ReFocus Online website (via the ‘Submit Q&A Questions’ button) beginning this afternoon at 3:30 p.m.
  • Consultations with Center for Teaching and Digital Learning Support
    Consultations are the best way to get your questions answered and explore options for your online classes. We are using an online appointment system–just choose the center you wish to work with and select an available day and time.
    While our units are doing their best to respond to emails in a timely manner, please be aware that we may ask you to schedule a consultation if emailed questions require more discussion to better understand your needs.

Looking ahead to Week 4: Student and Instructor Engagement…

Registration for Week 4 Interactive Workshop will open at 3:30 p.m. today (6/29) and close this Friday (7/3) at 5:00 p.m. Please visit the ReFocus Online website and click on ‘Register for Workshops’. The following concurrent sessions will be available:

  • Core Session-Building Engagement in an Online Course: Victoria Russell (CfT) and Cartland Berge (DLS)
    This session will review basic information about connecting students and sustaining student motivation in an online course. The focus will be on strategies and structures to support collaborative/group work in Canvas. We will also address best practices when choosing to use synchronous sessions, specifically in Zoom. It is recommended for any faculty member, but especially those that have not taught online before or whose first experience was remote teaching in Spring 2020. (Note: This concurrent session will repeat during the second round of ReFocus Online)
  • Humanizing Online Learning-A Discussion: Julia DeLancey (CAS-Art and Art History) and Robert Wells (CAS-Music)
    Many of us struggle in connecting with students who are learning remotely. Sometimes we also struggle to remember the complexity of the challenges of our new modes of instruction—for ourselves and our students. Please join interested colleagues for a discussion of the ways in which we can humanize online learning. For example, we might consider compassion and empathy as tools to help engage students in online learning and, in so doing, help accommodate students’ human needs. This recognizes them as whole people, and also gives ourselves the benefit of some generosity of spirit as well. Robert Wells and Julia DeLancey will be on hand to give a bit of structure to a discussion among colleagues. (Note: This concurrent session will not repeat during the second round of ReFocus Online.)
  • Beyond Zoom: Video Streaming for Synchronous and Asynchronous Engagement: Zach Whalen (CAS-Communication and Digital Studies)
    The video conferencing tool, Zoom (and others like it), can be a useful way to have a conversation online, but there are many reasons it may not be the best tool: there are concerns about the privacy of Zoom users’ data, Zoom has taken a problematic stance on censorship, and Zoom fatigue is real thing, both for us and our students. Above all, a video conference is not a class, and the ways in which it differs can undermine our teaching goals. In this workshop, I demonstrate a different way to share video content with students and a workflow for letting them engage with that content synchronously or asynchronously as needed. There are pros and cons to my approach as well, so in the interactive portion of this workshop we will share and explore as many alternatives to video conferencing as possible. (Note: This concurrent session will not repeat during the second round of ReFocus Online.)

We hope you all have a good week!

Center for Teaching and Digital Learning Support


Dr. Victoria Russell
Associate Director-Center for Teaching
Associate Professor-College of Education
University of Mary Washington

Twitter: @techtweed