You Can Bounce Back!

Today’s students are experiencing stress, anxiety, and depression at record levels, caused by everything from moving away from home (or country), to social expectations, to work pressures, to academic pressures. Without intervention, the weight of all this can be overwhelming leading to various mental health conditions that can negatively impact their academic performance.

On January 20, Rebecca Gagan, Founder and Director of the University of Victoria’s Bounce program, came to Douglas College to facilitate an interactive workshop to discuss her work and Douglas College’s opportunity to intervene at an early stage to help prevent crisis-level mental health issues. By changing the way we understand and talk to students about their struggles, we can create a community of support, helping students before they become overwhelmed by building positive coping skills that will change the course of their academic journey.

Rebecca Gagan, Founder and Director, UVic Bounce

The genesis of UVic Bounce

Rebecca’s work in this area started in 2015 after she received a scholarship in teaching and learning from UVic’s Learning and Teaching Support and Innovation (LTSI). She studied her first-year writing classes to understand how students could become more resilient through short in-class writing interventions. Her study in turn led to the creation of a website for the Faculty of Humanities for a video initiative called “UVic Bounce.”

Using videos in which alumni and faculty speak openly about their successes and failures during their university experiences, students will see that their own struggles and failures are an important part of their learning experience. By normalizing and de-stigmatizing the challenges that students face, UVic Bounce will make it easier for students to share their struggles and to seek the support that they need.

Cited from https://www.uvic.ca/humanities/student-resources/bounce/index.php

Some workshop A-ha! moments

Rebecca started the ball rolling by playing one of the videos in the Bounce project. A hush fell over the room as we watched and listened to the story playing out on screen. At times it was hard to watch, but by the end, my heart was full of optimism. Listening to the stories of senior professors and administrators talk about their own struggles while studying underlined that all of us (even truly successful people) can fail. On the flip side, those same people can rebound to success, when given the proper support and encouragement, which is exactly what happened with the video participants. You can bounce back.

Some rich discussion followed including having participants reflect on a time when they felt particularly troubled, alone, or anxious while at school. In other words, what did that feel like and how did they overcome that challenge.

Rebecca provided some concrete examples of ways staff, instructors, and administrators could be there for students by simply telling their own stories, thus becoming vulnerable, bridging the distance between them and their students.

But, enough from me. Here is the full workshop recording. Sit back, grab a cup of tea, and prepare to be amazed at our collective resiliency.

Our sincere thanks goes to the Douglas College-Wide Faculty Professional Development Committee and Academic Technology Services for funding this workshop.

UBC’s Emerging Media Lab: What a trip!

On June 19, a few of us from Douglas College (Nina Blanes, Kymberley Bontinen, Sandra Polushin, Steven Bishop, Mikki Herbold and I) took a trip out to UBC to visit their Emerging Media Lab. And  what a trip it was!

Greeted by three of the EML’s student staff (Sabrina Ge, Juyeong Stella Oh, and Kevin Yang), we entered the virtual reality and augmented reality worlds created by this pioneering collaboration of students, faculty, and staff comprising the Emerging Media Lab.

Three separate stations were set up including an undersea voyage through VR glasses, an AR walk through the brain viewing the HoloBrain project, and a VR look at building 3D shapes. Totally fascinating stuff, mining the enthusiasm and intelligence of students who work with faculty and staff to develop learning objects for real-world educational challenges.

Next, we took a walk to UBC Studios, affiliated with UBC EML. There we viewed the main film studio, the lightboard studio, and a bookable, one-button studio that enables faculty and staff to record their lectures or communication piece by inserting a flash drive into a dock and pressing one button.

 

Wow! What a wonderful, motivating experience. Our minds were blown (but in a totally inspiring way). Now we’re busy contemplating how we can integrate into Douglas College some of what we learned.

So, thank you, Emerging Media Lab team, especially Saeed Dyanatkar, EML Lead and Executive Producer. We were so pleased to have attended your Festival of Learning workshop, which started this whole trip.

 

And what a festival it was!

I’m back this week from attending three full days (May 28-30) at the Festival of Learning and my heart and mind are full. So before too much time goes by, I’d like to try to unpack what I participated in, collaborated on, and observed about this one-of-a-kind conference for educators and students.

First off, let’s talk about the theme for #FoL18: Higher Education: Handle with Care. Its two driving tenets, (a) inclusion and accessibility and (b) self-care,  provided some pretty hefty topics for us to lift throughout the festival. But, isn’t that the purpose of higher ed conferences? To push us out of our comfortable little backyards to see the world from other perspectives and to learn from them? Based on the anecdotal feedback I’m seeing on Twitter, conference goers were truly touched by the thought and caring that went into organizing FoL. Here are just a few of the highlights:

  • Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

    Free childcare was provided from 8:30-4:30 on all three days. Say what?! It’s true, and for anyone not from the Lower Mainland who wanted to bring their children, this was a HUGE deal. Parents were assured their children were cared for by professionals and during breaks/lunches they could check in with them. A brilliant idea whose time has come.

  • The organizing committee worked hard to make FoL affordable for all with special discounts for early registrants, students, speakers, and volunteers, and even a grant program for faculty applicants to help with their registration costs.
  • Name tags and pronoun ribbons, and all-gender washrooms  were available at the conference.
  • Mind and body balance: yoga sessions were held in the mornings and during breaks to ensure our bodies were attuned for learning. A dedicated meditation room was set up to give participants time to quietly reflect whenever they needed to. Again, all free of charge.

    Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash
  • I don’t know about you, but food is pretty important to me, so having delicious, nutritious options for meals and breaks really made me feel the love.

And all this without even mentioning the conference sessions and workshops themselves. So allow me to mention them now.

  • The Keynotes. C’mon! I defy anyone with a heart to say they weren’t deeply impacted by what they heard, felt, and experienced at the three incredible keynotes. Themes of compassion and empathy for our students and ourselves were brilliantly interwoven, opening us up to new possibilities.
  • So many great sessions to choose from including: OER and open pedagogies, caring for privacy, cultivating trust and emotional safety, global citizenship, students as partners, supporting student wellness, universal design for learning, liberating structures, teaching resilience to undergrads, digital/flexible hybrid learning, community engagement, visual toolkit for self-care, beyond the walled garden (LMS), building capacity for diversity and inclusion, and the list goes on…

Okay. Amazing care and attention for us as individuals, coupled with an incredible slate of sessions that touched our hearts and minds. What more is there to say? I think this tweet from SFU’s Teaching and Learning Centre encapsulates it all.

Thank you to the #FoL18 organizing committee and the many volunteers who tirelessly worked to pull off #thebestconferenceever. The gauntlet has been thrown down.

 

 

Have you seen the LIGHT(board)?

There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it. ~Edith Wharton.

Douglas College acquired a new piece of edtech a year ago called the Lightboard. But just what is this lightboard thingy?

Basically, it’s a piece of illuminated glass, on which instructors can write their lessons/lecture notes–just as they would a whiteboard or blackboard in a traditional classroom. The real magic comes into play when the video camera reverses the image, allowing the instructor’s writing to read properly from left to right.

The benefits of this technology are clear:

  • ​Instructors face their audience (students) directly through the glass. [No longer is there a need to turn your back to the students to write on the board.]
  • Students, in turn, see exactly what the instructor is emphasizing.
  • Lightboard sessions are recorded; therefore, the instructor leaves with an MP4 file that can be uploaded to their Blackboard course space or shown to the class by playing it from the instructor computer.
  • Instructors do not need to learn new technology or develop new skills. The Lightboard is fully supported by the ATS team.
  • Using this technology is particularly gratifying to convey difficult concepts, sensitive topics, etc. The recording can be played and replayed as many times as necessary for students to master the content.
Check out this video showcasing two Douglas College instructors and a student discussing the benefits of the Lightboard. And, if you’re interested in finding out more, please contact us.

Express Yourself! Consider new, creative ways of engaging your students

ATS is currently running a new series of workshops in time for the summer term called “Express Yourself!” These workshops will provide you with an overview to the specific teaching method by faculty experts, plenty of Q&A, and some hands-on play time. Our goal is that you start seeding the possibilities for your own teaching, contemplating how these ideas will engage and motivate your students.

Here’s what’s on offer:

  1. Presenting with purpose: This workshop will focus on heightening physical and vocal engagement in order to clarify your sound, meaning, and message. We will work from material provided by the group. Bring your own speeches, classroom presentations, or video scripts. We will also provide practice text. Bring your curiosity and come prepared to explore your expressive presence. Facilitator: Thrasso Petras, Theatre dept. April 30, 9:30am-12:30pm, N3260
  2. Going visual: You will be guided through a series of fun drawing exercises designed to amplify your visual literacy. No previous drawing experience is required, only a willingness to make to make your marks! Facilitator: Jason Toal, SFU Teaching & Learning Centre. May 2, 9:30-11:00am, S0620
  3. Thinking through the grid: Lightboard edition: You will discuss the comics grid as pedagogical heuristic using the technology of the lightboard. Topics will include the grid as database, timing system, and standing reserve. You will be asked to draw, but no particular drawing skill is required. Facilitators: Peter Wilkins, English dept. & Dwayne Thornhill, ATS. May 14, 9:00am-12:00pm, N3142 and N3272V
  4. Tablets for teaching: Learn how to use a tablet to facilitate teaching. Brandy will demonstrate how she uses it inside the classroom to improve student interaction and make PowerPoints more engaging. She will also discuss making tutorial videos using a tablet, giving you her software recommendations. Facilitator: Brandy Dudas, Accounting dept. May 23, 2:00-3:00pm, S2801
  5. Podcast! Encourage your students’ voices: Join us for an interactive workshop on designing podcast-based assignments. You will receive a mini-case, outlining process, design guidance for creating your podcast assignments, and technical information about podcasting. Facilitator: Lisa Smith, Sociology dept. June 4, 9:00am-12:00pm, S0620

And, these workshops are open and free to everyone. Here’s how you register.

What a team!

Today the Academic Technology Services (ATS) team is receiving the President’s Team Excellence Award for Douglas College.

Our work covers everything from designing technology for new learning spaces to training for Blackboard, from filming graduation ceremonies to rolling out BlueJeans for web conferencing, from supporting faculty with technical course issues to filming their use of our new Lightboard technology, from developing a new EdMedia program to researching new technology to support specific programs/departments. Such a wide diversity of tasks necessitates a special team who will assess your requirements, then coordinate a plan to systematically meet your core goals.

It is my sincere privilege to work with this gifted, dynamic, and creative group of people. Congratulations, ATS!

EdMedia Program 2.0–Join the media revolution!

You’ve seen your students, your kids, even yourself mesmerized by videos and podcasts on your cellphone. What if you could film/record your own, then edit them incorporating special effects to share with a specific audience? Are you hooked yet?

If this appeals to you for your teaching or your work here at the Douglas College, we have the program for you–the EdMedia Program. It runs from Feb.5 to Mar.15 at the NW campus, consisting of seven separate workshops:

  • Recording Foundations: Pre-production and Planning
  • Video Recording Techniques: Lights, Camera, Action
  • Guerrilla Filmmaking: Portable Device Techniques
  • Audio Recording: Editing with Audacity
  • Camtasia Part 1
  • Camtasia Part 2
  • Showcase and Next Steps

Participants who complete all seven workshops will receive a certificate of completion.

Douglas College faculty or staff: To register, click here.

Happy Holidays, all!

Wow, it’s been such a busy month.  Between work and personal commitments, doing the holiday baking and decorating, gift shopping, trip planning, it’s no wonder folks get stressed at this time of year. So, I’m looking forward to a few days off where I can kick back and reflect on the year that’s been and the new one still to come.

From Steven and I at the Douglas Educators Network, we wish you health, happiness, and hope this holiday season. Check back with us in January. The new year awaits!

Are you feeling emotionally safe?

Recently we held a workshop at Douglas College titled “Creating emotional safety in learning spaces,” which was facilitated by Leva Lee of BCcampus; Sandra Polushin, CFCS faculty; and Steven Bishop and Hope Miller from the Learning Designer team of Academic Technology Services.

And how did we land on this topic? Well, it started over a year ago when Ross Laird presented a two-day workshop titled “Storming the Ivory Tower.” As one plank of his 10-plank framework, emotional safety is a critical component of teaching the whole person.

Our goal in running this workshop was really to start a dialogue at Douglas College about what emotional safety means and how it impacts each of us in our various learning environments. None of the facilitators professed to being an expert in the field of emotional safety, but they were willing to guide the discussion around this important topic.

To that end, the facilitators used Liberating Structures activities to generate thoughts, ideas, challenges, and solutions, as well as to model how such topics could be tackled in learning environments. Two hours flew by as participants completed three activities–Impromptu Networking, Drawing Monsters, and 1-2-4-All–each activity building on the insights gleaned during group work.

I’m happy to report that feedback from participants was very positive. They liked the format and saw the benefits of using Liberating Structures to delve into topics such as emotional safety.

But, did we succeed in creating an emotionally safe space for participants to come together, share, tackle tough topics, and problem solve? Absolutely.

If, after reading this, you are interested in joining Douglas College’s Whole-Person Community of Practice, please contact either Steven Bishop or Hope Miller.  You can also consider joining the Vancouver Liberating Structures User Group.

Creating emotional safety in learning environments: Oct.23, 9-11AM, New West campus, room S0620

What it is

Have you ever been part of a group (in class, online, or in the workplace):

  • Where you didn’t feel comfortable or empowered to participate?
  • Where one group member was being culturally insensitive to another?
  • Where you felt bullied?

We can all relate to having experienced BAD group dynamics. Yet group work is critical to creating effective student engagement, even good work team relations. Learn about some dynamic strategies for promoting and enhancing positive group dynamics that enable everyone to participate!

By the end of this workshop you will be able to:

  • Reveal insights and paths through non-verbal expressions
  • Stop counterproductive activities and behaviours, making space for productive collaboration and innovations
  • Rapidly generate and sift through a group’s most powerful actionable ideas
  • Use Liberating Structures to pave the way for successful group interactions while creating an emotionally safe environment

How we’ll do it

Using Liberating Structures activities, Sandra Polushin, Leva Lee, Steven Bishop, and Hope Miller will facilitate ways to create emotionally safe group spaces to promote effective and successful group interactions.

We will model the importance of creating a trusting group climate in order to promote the work of the group. You, in turn, will be able to use these same techniques in your classroom, online course space, and team meetings.

How we got here

For some background on how we got here, please listen to this short audio clip, which all started with the “Storming the Ivory Tower” event with Ross Laird held last fall.

Who should come

Students, faculty, and staff are ALL welcome at this event, as well as interested parties from other institutions.

Format and details

 Join us for a two-hour workshop in our new Collaboration Room (S0620), New Westminster campus on October 23 from 9-11AM.

Click here for REGISTRATION information.

Photo by Morgan Basham on Unsplash