Announcing Faculty Fridays

Dear colleagues,

We hope you were able to take some personal time during the first weekend of this remote working period. Beginning this Friday, March 27, we invite you to join us for an online community gathering entitled “Faculty Fridays,” which will take place every Friday afternoon via WebEx from 3 to 4 p.m. (see below for complete information).

During our weekly gatherings, you will have the opportunity to talk with one another, provide mutual support, report a recent accomplishment and share your experiences with the transition to an online environment, among anything else you would like to talk about. Please feel free to log on whenever it is convenient for you. This time is for community-building, support and problem-solving. The meeting is completely voluntary, so please do not feel obligated to attend. One thing that has become apparent during this first week, is that it is important for everyone’s health to create some type of structure, routine or boundaries around our time so that we do not find ourselves spending 10-12 hours per day online while not seeing daylight or moving much.

The theme for this week’s inaugural Faculty Friday discussion will be creating a sense of belonging for students online. According to Koole and Parchoma (2013), belonging in online communities is an iterative process of dialogue and exchange with other members where in individuals act to achieve cognitive resonance with one another by sharing personal narratives. Thomas, Herbert and Teras (2014) extend this idea to offer a number of icebreakers that open the connection between faculty members and their students and promote collaboration between students as a prelude to feeling a part of a community of learners. One icebreaker that Renee thought of this weekend includes sharing an inspirational song or quote with your students. Renee’s favorite for this week is James Blunt’s “The Greatest.” Another icebreaker might involve sharing about a time you struggled with a crisis while you were a student and the story of how you got through that situation. Other types of icebreakers are offered here.

Again, this is just a thought exercise to help kick-off your second week of planning and course preparation and a possible conversation starter for Friday. Please continue to share feedback and stay in touch with each other, and with us, throughout the week. Our virtual doors are open, and we care about your experiences as faculty members.

Meanwhile, we look forward to seeing you online Friday afternoon!

Best wishes,
Bo and Renee

WebEx Info
Meeting link:
Meeting number: 803 294 721
Password: PAhHxUqe593

Koole, M., & Parchoma, G. (2013). The web of identity: A model of digital identity formation in networked learning environments. In S. Warburton, & S. Hatzipanagos (Eds.), Digital identity and social media (pp. 14-28). Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference. DOI 10.4018/978 1-4666-1915-9.ch002

Thomas, L., Herbert, J., & Teras, M. (2014). A sense of belonging to enhance participation, success and retention in online programs. The International Journal of the First Year in Higher Education, 5(2), 69-80. DOI 10.5204/intifyhe.v512.233