March 10, 2021
Volume 5, Number 4
Creating Compassionate Video-On and Attendance Policies
In his online courses, Zachary Nowak found that such policies helped keep attendance and student engagement in both lecture and discussion sections high.

While planning my fall lecture course this past summer, I read horror stories about ski jump-shaped attendance curves, with huge falloffs just weeks into the summer session. I also heard about students being present insofar as their names were in the middle of little Zoom boxes but absent from class in every other way.

Some instructors proposed even stricter attendance policies than they would have adopted pre-COVID, but those seemed not to acknowledge the difficult situations students are dealing with while learning remotely. Ultimately, along with my head teaching assistant Sarah Bramao-Ramos, I developed Zoom camera and attendance policies that set the tone early but were also compassionate. Those policies helped us keep attendance and student engagement in both lecture and discussion sections high.

Our Zoom and attendance policies were complementary and built on a simple principle: to learn, you have to be present and attentive, just like in the regular classroom. We laid out a classwide Zoom policy, letting students know at the beginning of the semester that the default, for both lectures and seminars, was for their cameras to be on the entire time, although they were free to use backgrounds if they wanted to do so. We reminded them of the policy both at the beginning of lecture and through nudge questions in LMS quizzes.

During every online lecture, one teaching assistant would periodically scroll through the entire 98-person Zoom classroom (four blue arrows' worth) and jot down the names of anyone who didn’t have their camera on. They then sent the following email to each of those students after every meeting for the first four weeks:

Hi [student],

I noticed that you didn’t have your camera on during the lecture for HIST 1852 on Tuesday (Sept. 8). I’d like to remind you that we would like you to turn your camera on during the lecture. This is laid out in the course Zoom guidelines here.

There is no need to respond, and I want to make it clear that we are not penalizing you. But please make sure that your camera is turned on during the lectures. If you are unable to do this because of IT reasons please contact HUIT (or let us know, and we will see what we can do). If there is some other reason why you are unable to turn your camera on, please let me know.

My best,

In all cases, this was enough to elicit one of two responses from students: 1) “Oh, sorry, I’ll leave it on …” or 2) “Actually, I wanted to ask your permission to leave it off, because …” We did not say no to a single student who asked to leave the camera off. This early setting of the tone paid off: after the fifth week of the semester, we decided to discontinue sending the emails, as almost all of the students kept their cameras on the whole time.

The attendance policy was much the same mixture of tone-setting and compassion. We told students that they could miss three lecture meetings and two section meetings with no penalty, and without any need to give us a reason. The flip side was that, from the very first lecture, we took attendance (using a semicomplicated process to compare the Zoom report to the digital roster). If a student had missed the lecture completely, their discussion section TAs sent them the email below:

Dear [student],

I noticed you weren’t in lecture/section yesterday. Don’t worry, this time counts as one of your "free passes" (excused absences), but I just want to remind you that attendance in lecture/section is an important part of this course.

Let me know if you need anything, or if you just want to talk.

My best,

We thought of these as compassionate notes from Foucault: “We’re understanding about you missing class, but we’re keeping track of when you’re missing.” We also allowed students who missed additional lectures or who could never attend the lecture for a variety of reasons (including the challenge of navigating time zones) to make up lecture meetings by watching the recording and writing a short reaction paper. We were prepared to link any students who missed more than three classes to the IT department (for bandwidth issues).

We were hoping to help students overcome their differential access to the internet depending on their location and their access to technology. We also thought that a reason for students to keep their cameras off might be related to mental health, so we were prepared to connect them with mental health services, but we didn’t need to. Of 98 students, none at all missed more than three classes. Overall, attendance was phenomenal: only a handful of students missed the lecture every week.

To continue reading this article and to learn about how to incentivize engagement, click here.

by Zachary Nowak, Inside Higher Ed.

Hello MSU Educators,

Morehead State University is now part of the Online Learning Consortium (OLC)!

What is the OLC?

The Online Learning Consortium (OLC) is a collaborative community of higher education leaders and innovators, dedicated to advancing quality digital teaching and learning experiences designed to reach and engage the modern learner – anyone, anywhere, anytime. OLC inspires innovation and quality through an extensive set of resources, including best-practice publications, quality benchmarking, leading-edge instruction, community-driven conferences, practitioner-based and empirical research, and expert guidance.

What this means to you and your fellow MSU educators is another venue for information, advice, guidance and resources related to online teaching and learning! Now you are wondering how you can access these fine resources. You just need to go to:

Click "LOGIN" and then fill out the form.

After creating your account you will have access to the many resources of the OLC. One of these resources is the "Faculty Playbook" that was used as the guiding document for our Online Teaching Workshops that occurred in the Summer and Fall. Webinars are also offered and here are a few titles that may be of interest:
  • Instructional Design & Course Planning for OER
  • Supporting Your Child With Online Learning: A Webinar for Parents
  • Effective Facilitation of Online Discussions with Students
  • How Can I Teach Anatomy and Physiology Online Using Lab Kits?

After exploring the OLC site, let us know if there are any questions We are looking forward to exploring and utilizing this resource.
What I Love About Teaching Campaign
Hello Educators,
We are looking for your response to the question "What I love about teaching?"

Take a few moments to share your response by clicking the link below:
Events on Campus
Level UP! Your Courses - How To
  • Anxious to give your course the Level UP! boost it needs? Wondering how to turn your usual course into a dynamic Level UP! Course without a major overhaul? In this session, Dr. Kim Nettleton provides you with advice and pointers to Level UP! your class.
  • Coming?: Click here
  • Date: Thursday, March 11, 2021
  • Location: WebEx
  • Time: 3:00pm - 4:00pm
Social Sciences, Legal, Government and Nonprofit Career and Internship Fair
Engineering and Science Career and Internship Fair
  • Morehead State University Office of Career Services will be hosting multiple virtual career and internship fairs with video chat capabilities to better connect students with employers and graduate programs by career clusters. Students can log in to Eagle CareerNet using the link below to register for and attend the event.  This fair is for students and alumni interested in engineering, space science, biology, mathematics, chemistry, physics, and other science fields. 
  • When: March 15, 2021 @ 2PM - 4PM
  • Hosted by: Career Services
  • Online Location
  • Additional Information can be found at:
Present at the 2021 QM ConnectLX Online Conference

From the growth of online programs to a focus on micro-credentialing, there are a lot of predictions about the future of online learning. But no matter what the future holds, we know you are prepared. Each day, you are looking forward and transforming — already incorporating forward-thinking ideas into every aspect of your online courses and programs.
Bring your work to the 2021 QM ConnectLX Online Conference. Showcase the ideas, data-driven policies, research, and experiences that are transforming your quality assurance efforts at every level, from administration to frontline faculty. Let the QM community know:
  • What’s working and what isn’t
  • How you are tackling issues around equity
  • What you are doing to create and grow a culture of quality
  • How you’re addressing today’s pressing topics through research
  • And so much more! 
Choose from seven concentrations and a selection of six formats!
Ready to get started? Just follow these simple steps:

Early submissions get rewarded! If you submit by April 23, 2021, you will receive personalized feedback and have the opportunity to revise your proposal before the final review. Additionally, if your proposal is accepted, you’ll get a $50 discount on the conference registration fee.
Need Inspiration? Check out recordings of some highly-rated QM ConnectLX presentations from 2020. Questions? Contact the events team.

If you would like to discuss a submission to the QM conference send an email to

Teaching to Increase Diversity and Equity in STEM (TIDES) Institute

Registration Deadline: March 15, 2021

Institute I: June 7-10, 2021
Institute II: June 27-June 30, 2021
Virtual Professional Development Experience

The AAC&U TIDES Institute builds individual and team capacity and efficacy in exploring the root sources, unwritten codes, and systemic origins of the underrepresentation of minoritized groups in STEM. This Institute honors and adapts to the uniqueness of any institutional context, preparing participants to leave with expertise in confronting the systems and structures of oppression that are ingrained in their institutional histories, missions, traditions, and practices. 
During the AAC&U TIDES Institute, participants can expect
  • an expert-guided, intensive review of the literature that interrogates the culture of STEM and the assumptions that are held about who belongs in STEM;
  • institution and/or individual executive coaching from noted experts in organizational change theory, institutional transformation, and broadening participation;
  • deep immersion into self-reflection on and introspection of the ways in which we, as STEM faculty of all backgrounds and social identities, have been complicit in perpetuating dominant STEM cultures that often exclude diverse STEM talent; and
  • an introduction to the application of mindfulness as an instrument for implementing meaningful, culturally responsive policies, practices, and pedagogical strategies.
AAC&U Virtual Professional Development Opportunities for STEM Faculty and Administrators

Application Deadline: March 16, 2021
The PKAL STEM Leadership Institute is designed for both early- and mid-career STEM faculty, principal investigators, and administrators who are engaged in leading initiatives and interventions aimed at reforming undergraduate STEM education in their classrooms, departments, and institutions. This Institute empowers individuals to navigate the politics of change by developing the capacity to confront intra- and inter-personal conflicts, re-structure traditional institutional systems, and balance power and privilege in ways that serve all STEM students and faculty.

By attending the PKAL STEM Leadership Institute, participants can expect to
  • learn, develop, and experience the art of deep contemplation and self-reflection as mechanisms for leading national and local efforts to confront the root causes of racism in STEM higher education;
  • explore both practical and tactical leadership skills for directing campus and national undergraduate STEM reform projects and initiatives;
  • gain access to professional diversity trainers and experienced academic coaches and mentors, who have been trained in evidence-based coaching and the Courageous Conversations® framework; and
  • be guided through the development of a powerful leadership prospectus that outlines and sets a clear course of action for lifelong professional and personal growth.
How Does College Education Contribute to Workforce Success?

Free Webinar - Register Today!
Drawing from AAC&U’s most recent survey of employers, research from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, and insights from one of the world’s largest companies, this webinar will explore how colleges and universities can best prepare students to flourish in their careers. Panelists will discuss the college competencies that matter most for workforce readiness, the learning experiences that help graduates stand out in the job market, and how higher education can balance the need for job-specific skills with the growing imperative for adaptability and creative problem-solving.

There will be time for Q&A during the webinar. The webinar will be recorded, and the recording will be available online. 

Date: March 19, 2021
Time: 1:00–2:00 p.m. ET
Cost: Free for AAC&U members; $99 for nonmembers

Morehead State University is an institutional member of AAC&U.
Teaching and Learning Innovation Conference

University of Tennessee, Knoxville announces registration is open for its Innovative Teaching and Learning Conference that will be held on Tuesday, March 30, 2021 from 8am - 5:30pm.  

The theme this year is "Lighting the Way to Deeper Learning". The goal is to highlight the importance of good teaching in higher education settings by featuring the innovative teaching practices that occur in this context. The keynote speaker for both breakfast and lunch is Claire Major, a world-renowned teacher, consultant, and scholar.

She is the author or co-author of several books in the field of instructional development that include: Learning Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty; Online Learning: A guide to theory, research, and practice; Teaching for Learning: 101 Intentionally Designed Learning Activities to put Students on the Path to Success, and Collaborative Learning Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty.
The conference is free and virtual. You can now register to attend by clicking here
Registration for the conference closes on March 12, 2021 @5:00pm.
If you have any questions, please contact Ferlin McGaskey at Feel free to forward this information to your colleagues and friends.

After attending the webinar feel free to let me know your thoughts and take-aways.
Magna (Online) Webinars
24/7 Educator/Professional Development for Faculty
Featured Webinar:

How Can Promoting Academic Integrity Improve Learning Outcomes?
This session will provide expert strategies from a world-renowned teaching and learning specialist that will move students toward becoming effective learners with integrity.

This webinar explores:
  • Cheating
  • Learning from failures
  • Learning for life

Benefits of Magna Webinars:

  • Each webinar takes approximately 20 minutes to complete.
  • All webinars are available on your schedule since they are online and easily accessed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Webinars include supplemental materials such as bibliographies and handouts.
  • Certificates of completion are available for professional portfolios and Faculty 180.

Accessing Webinars:

These licensed Magna resources are available through a password-protected website. For access, educators need to:
  • Log into MSU’s employee portal;
  • Look under the My Classes (Blackboard) section for the Magna Training Site;
  • If Magna isn't showing up in your list of courses, please send a request to be added to
  • When you click on the Magna Training Site, the Blackboard shell will open. Select Magna Campus and then launch the LTI link, select 20-Minute Mentor Commons. After selecting 20-Minute Mentor Commons, choose Teaching Face-to-Face then choose the featured title.
Ambassadors for Excellence in Teaching
Morehead State University