Tips for Teaching Virtually

I’m an instructional designer specializing in higher education and online instruction, and here is my offer of help. I have a little bandwidth to spare at the moment and I never imagined there would be such a thing as a “national instructional design emergency.” But here we are, and here I am.

 If you’re an instructor who has just found out that all of your teaching for the rest of the semester is moving online and you have no idea where to go or what to do, these are my tips.

Steve Weidner, Senior Instructional Technologist at UNYCC’s New York Chiropractic College

First off, look locally. Look and see what resources your institution has posted. If you’ve never sought out their help, find your campus’s support staff. We call them variations on the same theme: “Academy for Teaching Excellence”, “Center for Learning and Teaching”, “Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning”, “Office of Digital Learning”, “Innovative Learning”. They may or may not be the same folks that do your Blackboard/Canvas/D2L/other LMS support. They’ve likely sent you a bunch of emails about emergency seminars that they’ll be running about moving online that you’ve missed in the panic. Breathe. Take a moment. Go to one of their seminars.

Buy a USB microphone. Now. Seriously. If there is one easily identifiable potential failure point in live teaching or recording lectures, it’s your audio. I like the Blue Snowball (Amazon link). It’s been in production for 15 years or so. It’s a solid mic. But pretty much any USB lavalier, microphone, or headset is likely better than what’s on your laptop.

If your campus doesn’t have local resources up and running yet, check out this site from Indiana University.  I and a number of my colleagues are shamelessly cribbing from it while we create our own localized versions. It’s a good ‘un. Mad props to the IU team.

If you’re looking for broader tips about teaching online from people who actually do it, here are a couple of twitter threads and articles I recommend:

Dr. Ryan Straight’s advice; more on the technical side of things. The three links I pulled from his thread are:

AND THIS. READ THIS The title is a bit inflammatory, but the advice might be some of the most important you get.

If this isn’t doing it for you, or if your local resources are overwhelmed, or you have some weird academic need that you can’t imagine how in the world to migrate it online, there is the Instructional Design Emergency Response Network where you can request help and other IDs who have available time can offer their assistance. Their signup sheet is here. You can find them on Twitter at @id_erNet.

If we’ve ever met or worked together before, or you even recognize my name, reach out to me and I’ll be happy to help. If you know people who could use this information, please share it. If you happen to be an ID who needs to burn off some caffeine after you’ve already covered your local needs, sign up with the IDERN. And to everyone dealing with this, I’ll close with the following: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aB2yqeD0Nus

EVENT POSTPONED: AAC&U’s Dr. Tia Brown McNair to speak at UNYCC Spring meeting.

On Friday, April 3rd, Dr. Tia Brown McNair, will deliver a keynote address titled, “From Equity Talk to Equity Walk: Expanding Practitioner Knowledge for Racial Justice in Higher Education.” Dr. McNair is Vice President in the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success and Executive Director for the Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation Campus Centers at the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) in Washington. This is even will be held at Monroe Community College.

Director’s Message, Spring 2020


The start of a new semester, a new year, and a new decade coincides with my first-year anniversary at UNYCC. It’s been a time of reflection as I look at the year behind and at the one ahead.

For me, 2019 was a “year of connections.”  Although I moved to Rochester in the winter of 2018, it took me almost a year to learn my way around.  UNYCC campus visits across the region helped me understand institutional connections as well as the network of roads that link us.  Eventually, I even managed to find my way home in the dark. 

At the same time, these seemingly new connections had ties to my past.  The daughter of one of our Prime Representatives had been roommates with our daughter.  A new colleague lives around the corner.  And I was reintroduced to acquaintances I made in previous positions that are now developing in a UNYCC context.

As the new year is still fresh, I’m thinking about how to move from connection to community both personally and professionally. How can I proactively enhance my sense of personal community?  How can UNYCC expand and deepen connections to continually develop a shared vision?

In short, each of you is a UNYCC community-builder.  When you pass along a UNYCC email to a co-worker, when you participate in a UNYCC discussion, or when you reach out to get more information, you are helping UNYCC build deeper meaning that fuels action.  I invite you to keep doing it. Pass along an email about an important event.  Suggest a community of practice to address an issue that would be undoable if you were working on your own but achievable when addressed collectively. Plan on participating in the UNYCC Spring meeting on Friday, April 3, 2020.

And, thanks to all of you who have made me feel at home this past year.  I learned so much from listening to your discussions about your work, your challenges, and your goals.  In 2020, I’m looking forward to supporting our strategic priority areas (student success, resource optimization, and leadership development) with a clear focus on serving UNYCC’s many and diverse communities.

–Suronda Gonzalez, Executive Director, UNYCC

What does it mean to become an “empowered university?”

Freeman Hrabowski III, the president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, has built reputation rooted in shared governance and collective leadership.

“The time to build the relationships and community is not in the heat of the moment. Leaders must continually build consensus and understanding as a key practice.”

Read more

Fall Meeting: ERM & Crisis Communication


Please join your colleagues from other UNYCC member institutions in October as we come together for discussion regarding our shared challenges and the ways collaboration can aid us in confronting them effectively. 

The focus of the fall meeting is to enhance awareness of risk areas that fall beyond the traditional categories of discussion and to think about collaborative proactive strategies.  We will explore the broad landscape facing higher education including private institutions, state-operated schools, and community colleges.  


Full Details & Registration


Keynote Speaker: Michael J. Cooney, Esq. of Nixon Peabody, LLC

Panel Discussion:Crisis Management featuring: 

Kelly Gagan, VP for Advancement, Nazareth College (Chair)

Gail Glover, Chief Communications & Marketing Officer, SUNY-Geneseo

Tony Perez, Chief of Public Safety, Monroe Community College



Full Agenda & Registration

UNYCC Plan of Work

UNYCC held its annual spring meeting on April 3, 2019 at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Joseph M. Lobozzo Alumni House. More than forty institutional leaders representing fourteen different institutions from across the region (including public, private and community colleges) were in attendance.

Opening remarks from UNYCC President Patrick Richey and Executive Director Suronda Gonzalez provided an overview of the work and success of existing communities of practice (CoPs) including IT, HR, Facilities, Environmental Health and Safety, Financial Matters and Auxiliary Services.  Newly formed CoPs from academic and student affairs are also beginning to meet.

The afternoon program focused heavily on identifying and prioritizing the Collaboration’s long-term work.  Attendees formed cross-functional teams around UNYCC’s strategic areas (student success, resource optimization, and leadership development) as they ranked specific initiatives.  These multi-year initiatives engage stakeholders across the higher education landscape and can be pursued along multiple paths. Diverse working teams will work to move priorities into projects with tangible positive results by January 2020.

If you are interested in joining our work, please email info@unycc.org asking for details about how to become involved.

UNYCC President Ready to Journey with Others

NACUBO (The National Association of College and University Business Officers) magazine recently featured a piece on UNYCC president and vice president for finance and administration at Nazareth College, Patrick E. Richey. Pat was the first registrant for NACUBO 2019 and is fueled by his passion and commitment to supporting higher education in the region.

He commented that this year’s meeting is important because “the opportunities and challenges facing higher education have never been more acute. We face questions about the value of higher education, demographic changes, and accounting changes. No business officer can face these challenges alone and in the vacuum of [his or her] own campus. It is important to make the journey, network with others, and find out how others are pursuing the opportunities that exist.”

See the full article in the April 2019 edition of Business Officer

Meet UNYCC’s Executive Director

Upstate New York College Collaboration (UNYCC) has hired its first-ever executive director, Suronda Gonzalez, Ph.D. who will be hosted at Nazareth College. Gonzalez will serve UNYCC as it increases its capacity to develop collaborative solutions to shared problems, and enhances the professional and economic impact of higher education throughout the region and New York State.

Suronda Gonzalez is the first-ever executive director of Upstate New York College Collaboration

The UNYCC is an established consortium of 19 western and central New York-area institutions of higher education including community colleges, state operated institutions, and independent colleges and universities. Its current membership has a combined annual spending of over $1 billion across 400 buildings on 5,000 acres serving over 83,000 students and 13,000 full and part-time faculty and staff.

“Our collaboration’s members share a commitment to affordability and access to a diverse set of higher education offerings,” said Patrick Richey, Nazareth College vice president of finance and administration, and president of UNYCC’s executive committee. “Suronda’s experience will help take UNYCC to the next level so that our organization can better leverage collective strengths to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of all member institutions.”

“Securing support for an executive director position signals deep institutional commitment to what we can accomplish together,” said Hezekiah Simmons, CFO and Vice President of Administrative Services for MCC and UNYCC At Large Member of the Executive Board. “It is a reaffirmation of our belief that we are ‘better together’ and that shared initiatives can strengthen each member school.”

Gonzalez’s background as an educator and administrator is broad and includes rich experience leading nearly a 30-campus consortium around common curricular priorities. Most recently, she led the University of Rochester OnCampus program, a partnership across departments and divisions to support international student success while ensuring compliance with institutional, Middle States, as well as state and federal governmental regulations. For more than a decade, Gonzalez worked at Binghamton University where she spearheaded high-impact global learning initiatives. Her background includes experiences that support both academic and student affairs, professional development design and delivery, and a strong commitment to access and inclusion. Gonzalez holds a Ph.D. in U.S. history from Binghamton University, and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from West Virginia University.

Institutions interested in learning more about joining the Collaboration and about its activities should contact suronda@unycc.org.