UFF chapter meetings will be conducted via Zoom video communications. The Chapter chose Zoom because it is relatively straightforward, does not have a vast array of complicated features (or at least, not cluttering up the controls), and has minimal bandwidth issues. (Anyone interested in checking Zoom out - as a possible backup in case a more complicated app develops bandwidth or other issues - can check it out and look at the You-Tube reviews).
It is possible to attend the Chapter Meeting by phone, but it may be better to get a (free) account from Zoom. Either way, we will have phone numbers for anyone who wants to call in, and identification numbers for anyone who wants to attend via Zoom. Anyone who wants to attend should ask the Chapter Secretary for the numbers.
The next chapter meeting is on Friday, March 27, and at the top of the agenda: being online.
While we are all grateful for the webinars that our hard-working IT staff put together on an emergency basis, it is important to know that proficiency in handling computers is a skill, and acquiring a skill requires practice. Just as one cannot acquire the skill to play a musical instrument by learning how musicians do it, one cannot acquire the skill to handle a complex array of software by learning how experts do it.
One must do it.
Many people have phobias about computers, just as many people have phobias about drawing and painting. The "dashboard" of any of these programs suddenly being thrust upon us can be as intimidating as, say, a blank canvas and a palette of paint. Nearly a century ago, Winston Churchill got some very good advice from Hazel Lavery, which Churchill later described:
Having bought the colours, an easel, and a canvas, the next step was to begin. But what a step to take! The palette gleamed with beads of colour; fair and white rose the canvas; the empty brush hung poised, heavy with destiny, irresolute in the air. My hand seemed arrested by a silent veto. But after all the sky on this occasion was unquestionably blue, and a pale blue at that. There could be no doubt that blue paint mixed with white should be put on the top part of the canvas. One really does not need to have had an artist's training to see that. It is a starting-point open to all. So very gingerly I mixed a little blue paint on the palette with a very small brush, and then with infinite precaution made a mark about as big as a bean upon the affronted snow-white shield. It was a challenge, a deliberate challenge; but so subdued, so halting, indeed so cataleptic, that it deserved no response. At that moment the loud approaching sound of a motor-car was heard in the drive. From this chariot there stepped swiftly and lightly none other than the gifted wife of Sir John Lavery. 'Painting! But what are you hesitating about? Let me have a brush—the big one.' Splash into the turpentine, wallop into the blue and the white, frantic flourish on the palette—clean no longer—and then several large, fierce strokes and slashes of blue on the absolutely cowering canvas. Anyone could see that it could not hit back. No evil fate avenged the jaunty violence. The canvas grinned in helplessness before me. The spell was broken. The sickly inhibitions rolled away. I seized the largest brush and fell upon my victim with Berserk fury. I have never felt any awe of a canvas since.
Lavery's advice (via Churchill) applies to software as well. Choose a plausible looking piece of software, create a team or group or whatever of colleagues on it, and practice sharing screens, sharing images, sharing sick jokes, sharing whatever. If you had a seminar series running, corral colleagues into continuing the seminar series; this may require learning how to make powerpoint with audio (powerpoint has that feature - play with it). You can even set up support groups (if you want to do so with a non-USF system, relatively accessible options include Skype and Zoom - note that if you want to actually run a class on one of these, you will have to purchase some kind of premium account). When classes roll around, get your students in the act. Some are already acting, and they will have their own favorites (for online games - and as many gamers are intolerant of software misbehavior, some of these work very well). Experienced students can be a great asset. Other students will be terrified, but teachers who are going through this can relate.
Many of the USF webinars were recorded, and of course there are instruction videos, manuals, etc. One possible strategy is to have a manual or helpful site open as you play with the buttons. Don't be afraid of mistakes - everyone makes lots of mistakes with computers - and none of these platforms can actually damage a computer, so try it out.
Bargaining will be in earnest, and the UFF USF Bargaining Committee would like to know what's important to you. As UFF represents all UFF USF employees, we would like everyone, members and non-members alike, to fill out the survey. Here is the link to the survey form. If you have filled it out already, thank you; if not, please do so today.
The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida represents all 1,600+ UFF USF faculty in bargaining. It is a democracy, but only dues-paying UFF USF members may vote for officers and representatives in the annual election. It is Election Season, and the ballots are out! Ballots are due Friday, March 27. If you were a UFF USF member as of February 28, you should have received a ballot in a 8.5 x 11 white envelope: if you do not receive a ballot, contact the Chapter Secretary. Meanwhile, the candidates' statements can be accessed via the Chapter website.
The USF Chapter of the UFF will award six $ 500 Travel Scholarships for next spring and summer. This will be for travel for participation in a professional activity. All applications are due by April 22, and only UFF members are eligible. In addition, no recipient of the Fall or Spring cycles of travel grants is eligible to apply. The six recipients shall be selected by lot at the April 24 chapter meeting. For more information, see the Travel Scholarship Flyer.
This initiative is part of our membership campaign. If you would like to become active in the UFF USF Membership Drive, contact the Membership Chair, Debra Sinclair (click here).
Download, fill in, and mail the membership form. Benefits of membership include the right to run and vote in UFF chapter and statewide elections; representation in grievances (UFF cannot represent a non-member in a grievance or litigation); special deals in insurance, travel, legal advice, and other packages provided by our affiliates; free insurance coverage for job-related liability; and the knowledge you are supporting education in Florida. Come and join the movement.
The next chapter meeting is on Friday, March 27, at noon, via Zoom. For the link, contact the Chapter Secretary.
About this broadcast: This Newsletter was broadcast from uff.ourusf.org, hosted at ICDsoft.com, and is intended for all UFF USF members.
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