Tips for Students Transitioning to an Online Learning Environment

Post by Stephanie Hawley, programming coordinator for the Vocatio Center

Social distancing, safer-at-home orders and shortages of toilet paper. This isn’t what you thought 2020 would look like, is it? You may be feeling overwhelmed, uncomfortable, sad, angry, stressed … you name it. It’s OK to feel these things. A pandemic was not in any of our plans for this year.

Though we may not be physically present with you, the faculty and staff of Union University are allied with you as we move through these uncharted waters together. We’ve compiled some tips, strategies and resources to help you successfully navigate this period of social distancing and remote learning.

Blog_OnlineLearning_Sp20-01

Keep track of changes

How do I access that class online again? What link do I need? When is that paper due? Put all of your key dates, big changes and important links in one place to help you stay on top of things. This might feel like a no-brainer, but if you haven’t yet compiled the course changes in one place for easy reference, go ahead and try it. Things might start feeling a whole lot more manageable.

Make a schedule and stick to it

You might find that you are suddenly operating with very little structure. While at first this might feel freeing, it might also leave you feeling more scattered and less productive. Create some structure in your day, scheduling time for your designated online class meetings and video lectures, for research papers and projects to complete by specific due dates and for exercise and rest.

Avoid multitasking

Multitasking often tricks us into thinking that we’re being more efficient, when we really might be taking longer to accomplish those tasks because our attention is divided. Try to limit your distractions and focus on one thing at a time. Realizing that you need some help with your time management skills? Consider a method like the Pomodoro Technique, or check out the other resources compiled by the Center for Academic Success for time management tips, study skills and more.

Limit screen time

It’s so important to put a limit on your screen time, especially now that everything is online. By charting out your week’s schedule and giving yourself plenty of time to virtually attend classes and to study, you’ll also find that you’re left with time to eat, rest, exercise and maybe even read a book. Find some great book recommendations on the Library’s blog.

Adapt routines

Are there ways to adapt your usual routines to your new environment? Do you need to strategize and create new routines? One of the best things you can do right now is to stick with that school schedule you were used to; get up and dressed as if you are physically going to class. Start the day ready to go.

Do you study best in a comfy chair with light music or do you need a desk, good light and no noise? Do you study best with a partner? Host a virtual study group with your classmates. Check in with your friends and share ideas.

Practice healthy rhythms

There’s a lot to think about as we adjust to these new routines and rhythms. Remember to be kind to yourself, and be kind to others. We’re all adjusting and adapting to this new period together.

Take a walk and exercise daily. If you’re living in a community under safer-at-home directives, you might find that tensions start to run a little high after being cooped up at home. Follow @uucampusrec on Instagram for some at-home workouts and nutrition tips to help you work out your stress and stay healthy.

Engage with your spiritual community. Is your church offering online services? Is there an online community group or Bible study you can join? Follow @uu_ministries and @uu_mobilization on Instagram as they help us engage spiritually through this time of social distancing, and be sure to tune in to chapel each week as it streams online.

Practice good mental health and coping techniques. There’s so much that we can’t control right now, and it can be really helpful to name those things and then limit the time we spend thinking about them. Rather than dwelling on all that we can’t control, shift your focus to what you can control, and then start doing those things. Check out Counseling Services for more helpful mental health tips and resources, and to learn more about their services during this time.

Listen to music, like the Gospel Coalition’s playlist, Songs of Comfort for Anxious Souls. This playlist is available on Spotify, Apple Music or Amazon Music, and includes some of our most beloved hymns and worship songs.

Ask for Help

One of the most important things you can do right now is ask for help. There are so many resources available to you, even from home. Check out the list of departments and services below, and let us know how we can help you!

Academic Resources: Writing Center; Library; Center for Academic Success

Student Life support services: Counseling Services; Health Services; Disability Services

5 Tips for K-12 Teachers who are Teaching Online Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Post by Dr. Eric D. Marvin, professor of education

Blog_OnlineTeaching_Sp20

A few short weeks ago, you probably never envisioned that you’d now be teaching without your classroom. Sure, you may have taken an online class, but you may have never taught one! In the wake of COVID-19, many K-12 teachers, like you, have been tasked with converting face-to-face lessons into online instruction.

At the surface, it’s OK if it seems a little daunting, or novel, to say the least. After all, feelings of uncertainty during times of change are natural, but deep down, you know you’ve got this! As an educator, “adaptable” is your middle name, but even so, a few tips never hurt. In the midst of the pandemic in which you find yourself, Union University is here to offer some support. Here are five tips that can guide you during this non-traditional time of instruction as you teach your students from a distance:

1. Good instruction is good instruction, regardless of the format. The good news is that you already understand the components of effective instruction. You know how to write objectives, create and facilitate strategies, and check for understanding with various means of assessment. Similarly, you already understand that your objectives, strategies and assessments must align. This doesn’t change as you move to an online format. So, don’t let the idea of online instruction misdirect you from what you already know and do. Rather, for each objective, ask yourself: what online tools will enable me to help students achieve this objective? Don’t consume your time with a blind search for online tools and technological solutions without first considering your objectives. Doing so puts the cart before the horse. Keep your attention on the components of effective instruction. Then, find specific tools to enable you to help your students achieve your specified objectives.

2. Use free resources. As a teacher, you are already likely a king or queen of finding free resources. Most of your freebies, however, have likely focused on content and not instructional tools. One tool that may be especially helpful as you aim to provide online instruction to your students is Screencast-O-Matic. This tool allows you to record, edit and share video content with students and parents, and best of all, it’s easy to use. Keep in mind that this tool can be used to record a mini-lecture, provide assignment instructions and communicate with parents. For older students, you could even ask them to record their own screencast with this powerful tool. Finally, if you are looking for some additional content-related freebies, check out: the live cameras at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, educator resources from the National Archives and the video archive from PBS Learning Media.

3. Online learning doesn’t require students to complete assignments online. In the absence of meeting in your traditional classroom, it may be easy to assume that online learning requires student work to occur online. Nothing could be further than the truth! What needs to be online is your communication with students and their submission of assignments to you. With social distancing, students can, however, be tasked with completing assignments with tangible objects in their home, around their yard or in their neighborhood. Similarly, they can call or Facetime grandparents to learn more about their lives. What a great time for such an interview project. After all, everyone is home and perhaps in need of some conversation. Your goal is to establish the guidelines and expectations. As always, be creative and see where you can take your students during this opportunity brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

4. Relationships remain important, even when at a distance. More than anyone else, you know that relationships matter with your students. They know you care about them and want what is best for them. Now that you have been geographically separated from your students, it’s important for students to know you are continuing to think about them and their educational needs. Panorama Education offers a free online survey tool that can help your students learn about each other and build stronger classroom relationships. Additionally, sending a brief video message (see Screencast-O-Matic above) to students can help to bridge the gap. If you want to talk with them about COVID-19, the CDC offers some guidelines here.

5. Follow the guidelines provided by your district. Due to COVID-19, it is very probable that your district has a continuity of instruction plan and specific guidance in place related to your work and the legal parameters in which you can and should function as an educator in the online world. Now is not the time to press the limits or extend beyond such boundaries. Your school administrators are concerned about the situation at hand and need your prayers, support, cooperation and collaboration.

Union University’s School of Education is praying for and thinking about you as a K-12 educator. To learn more about the School of Education and its degree offerings, please visit uu.edu/education.

6 Ways to Pray for Union Students During the COVID-19 Interruption

200319_KMW_SpringCampus020As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the United States, our Union University students, like all of us, are facing unexpected changes, anxiety and uncertainty as they navigate how this affects their lives and studies. Joe Ball, University Ministries’ director for discipleship and ministry, and Ken Litscher, dean of student life, both shared some ways that you can pray for Union students during this time:

1. Pray for a smooth transition to online learning

To help protect the health and wellbeing of those in our community, Union moved all classes to an online or alternative delivery format from March 16-April 10. Please pray for our students and faculty as they all adjust to a new method of learning over these next few weeks.

2. Pray for a restful and healthy spring break

Pray that students who have returned home this week will value the extra time they have with their families, and pray that students who are unable to return home will have others reach out to them and provide a sense of community.

3. Pray for opportunities to share hope

Ask God that our students would be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and look for opportunities to share the love and hope of Christ with a scared and hurting world.

4. Pray that they will invest in community online

For our traditional students, pray that they will use their status as “digital natives” to lead the way in investing in real community online while they are separated physically.

5. Pray that they will trust God

Pray that our students will trust God to see them through this time, and that they would have a renewed understanding of God’s care for each of them.

6. Pray for protection from fear

In the midst of so much uncertainty, pray that our students will not be anxious or fearful, but instead that they will cast their cares on the Father and cling to the hope we have in Jesus Christ.

We at Union are so thankful for your support and prayers during these unprecedented times as we face the coronavirus and its implications. Please keep lifting up the Union community as we continue to provide Christ-centered education so our students can be transformed as servants of Christ and society.

Visit uu.edu/covid-19 for the most recent updates on Union’s coronavirus response

200319_KMW_SpringCampus034

Pharmacy students show Christ’s love through medical mission trip in Egypt

Story by Sarah Goff

Six Union pharmacy students spent a week this summer as part of a medical mission team that served in Cairo, Egypt. The students — Bailee Esch, Hunter Hanson, Payton Pulse, Firas Quran, Brooke Sanders and Ali Ward — spent four days working in medical clinics, each day in a different local Christian church, as well as spending two days sightseeing during their July 12-21 trip.

photo 4On the very first day of clinic, Pulse, a second-year Doctor of Pharmacy candidate from Bolivar, Tennessee, met a mother and her three children. The first two children had common, easily treatable cases of parasites. The mother expressed concern for her youngest child, a small 3-year-old boy who was sleeping in her arms. A few months ago, she explained, he had undergone surgery for an intestinal issue.

She then showed them his incision: it had burst open, and his intestines were protruding from his abdomen. Shocked, the team worked quickly to get the family to the emergency room.

“My heart hurt for this family, but at the same time it was bursting at the seams with happiness because we helped make an impact on someone, and possibly saved a life just by using our skills God blessed us with,” Pulse wrote in a blog post about the day.

This trip was the culmination of the Medical Missions class taught by Adrian Cross, adjunct professor of pharmacy practice at Union and registered store manager at the Walgreens Community Specialty Pharmacy on Skyline Drive in Jackson. This trip was in partnership with Englewood Baptist Church of Jackson, where Cross has been a member for 24 years. The mission team consisted of a veterinarian, dentist, schoolteacher and pharmacist in addition to the pharmacy students.

photo 5A local Christian ministry in Cairo helped set up the clinics, provide translators and bring in patients. The medical mission team offered an eyeglasses station, pharmacy stations, a health education station and a station to entertain waiting children.

In the Egyptian healthcare context, the role of a pharmacist is different than in the United States — they are the ones who diagnose common issues and then send the patient to the local pharmacy, where they dispense the needed medication. This was an answer to prayer, Pulse said, since the team did not include a doctor or nurse who typically would have examined and diagnosed patients.

This made the trip different from his 16 years of medical missions experience, Cross said. They were able to interact more with the patients and pray with them, too.

For Pulse, this trip was out of her comfort zone. She had never been outside the U.S. before and had never even considered going on an international mission trip. Although it is easy for pharmacy students to be consumed with their studies, she said it is important to venture out and experience new things.

“It’s definitely impacted the way I look at these disease states that we’re learning about and look at the drugs that treat them,” Pulse said. “It makes you appreciate what you’re learning and appreciate the patients you’re going to be helping more.”

Cross said he loves to see young professionals get involved in missions and use their talents to help people. He encourages students who feel called to go on a medical mission trip to pray about serving.

“If you go and you make yourself available, God will use you in ways that you would never imagine, and I think that happened this year with each one of the students,” he said.

Learn more about Union’s College of Pharmacy at uu.edu/pharmacy.

photo 1

Sophomore Wesley Jennings serves those in need on mission in Honduras

Post by Corey Morris

This summer, Wesley Jennings, an incoming sophomore at Union University, followed the charge in James 1:27 to serve those in need while being different from the world. While many young men his age would be looking to advance themselves in this world and spend the summer relaxing, Wesley has shown his true faith and altruistic nature.

IMG_0576

As a member of our Honduras Mission Team, Wesley served in the impoverished regions of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, in various capacities. Our church in McMinnville, Tennessee, partners with Baxter Institute in Tegucigalpa. We visit Honduras for one week each summer to help in humanitarian, medical, dental and evangelical efforts and to share the love of Christ to those around us. As a vital member of our team, Wesley went above and beyond in his call of duty to help serve the underserved.

While with our missionary group, Wesley jumped in full-force in many ways. He helped on construction teams to build homes given only a few nails, a hammer and a chainsaw as his tools of the trade. In addition, he helped in our dental clinic doing various tasks, from trying to make a crying child laugh with puppets to helping sanitize extraction instruments.

Wesley also helped assist in our medical clinic by triaging over 170 patients (in two days) without medical care to be seen by our medical missionaries. He was involved in the intake of these patients and taking their vital signs. The professionalism he showed, as well as the care he gave to patients, was unmatched with someone his age.

IMG_0569

Not only did Wesley help these fellow brother and sisters in Christ with their immediate medical and survival needs, he also assisted in their spiritual needs. When Wesley wasn’t working hard in our clinics, you could see him playing with children who don’t regularly receive attention. He didn’t let a language barrier stop him, and you could see the love of Christ reflecting through him.

Wesley also helped assist with our Vacation Bible School for these children. He is an honorable young man, and I am blessed to have the opportunity to have served with him. Union University is doing something right in developing Christ-centered individuals, and I’m glad I was able to see that education through one of Union’s students.

Corey Morris is a medical student at Lincoln Memorial University’s DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine in Harrogate, Tennessee, and a missionary with Westwood Church in McMinnville, Tennessee.

IMG_0566IMG_0503

Forever Bulldogs – Homecoming 2018

The Union University community gathered to celebrate alumni and current students during Homecoming weekend Nov. 1-3. Events included a 50 year reunion for the class of 1969, food and games on the Great Lawn, basketball and volleyball games and the crowning of the 2018 homecoming queen.

We’ve put together our favorite photos from the events of the weekend here for you all to enjoy.

Bulldog Olympics, student competition. Photos by Lynn Tucker

Class of 1969 welcome, mix and mingle. Photos by Kristi Woody

Homecoming chapel, featuring members of the Class of 1969 and the presentation of the gift from the Class of 1968. Photos by Kristi Woody

Meritorious Service Awards Banquet with 14 awards given. Photos by Kristi Woody

Bulldog Madness. Photos by Joey Echeverria

Basketball games: Lady Bulldogs vs. Martin Methodist and Bulldogs vs. Freed Hardeman. Photos by Riley Boggs and Kristi Woody

President’s Cup winners SAE; Mr. & Miss Union, Grant Allen and Corinne Olund; and Homecoming Queen 2018, Sallie Norman. Photos by Kristi Woody

Forever Bulldogs event on the Great Lawn. Photos by Joey Echeverria and Kristi Woody

Blank Slate Improv performance. Photos by Nikki Grim

Anthem Lights performance. Photos by Nikki Grim and Kristi Woody

The Value and Purpose of Pharmacy

Post written by Drew Wells, doctor of pharmacy student

DrewSills_0003Pharmacy was an interest of mine for several years before entering pharmacy school. I liked the idea of developing a vast knowledge of medications and incorporating that directly into patient care.

But being a pharmacist is more than counting pills, knowing mechanism of actions, counseling patients on side effects of medications, or catching drug-drug interactions. While that is a major part of our skillset and training, we have more to offer!

Pharmacists serve as a first-line resource for patients. Pharmacists listen to patients’ stories and enjoy seeing a smile on a patient’s face. Pharmacists see a patient struggling with a diagnosis or at a low moment in life. Pharmacists must be ready to meet people where they are and serve them well!

Union’s College of Pharmacy is a great place to be educated, trained, equipped, and mentored to be a great pharmacist. A pharmacist willing to take the time to invest in patients and provide comprehensive care. A pharmacist who understands the potential impact one can have on a patient’s life. The comprehensive training Union provides, ranging from learning the details of the human body in gross anatomy to discussing moral and ethical considerations, has only strengthened my passion and desire to be a pharmacist.

Pharmacy has already taught me many skills and lessons. I have learned how to study efficiently, manage my time, effectively communicate, and serve my peers and patients. Most importantly, I have learned how to rest in God’s grace. The latter of those lessons seems increasingly important each and every day. No matter if you are in the grind of a long semester of pharmacy school or entering into a busy season of life, learning to rest in God’s grace is a must.

God does not need our work to keep him on his throne. He is the one who leaves his throne to work for us. Trusting God in your work means learning to put it to the side and enthrone him in your rest. To trust God in my work has brought joy, confidence, and reassurance that my desire to serve people as a pharmacist has true value and a greater purpose. I am excited to see God’s plan continue to unfold here at Union and in my future career as a pharmacist.

 

Family Weekend Photos – 2018

Last weekend was our annual Family Weekend. There were various family-oriented events on campus such as a corn-hole tournament, ultimate frisbee game, and Union Night with fireworks. Here are some of our favorite photos from the events of the weekend.

Photos by Kristi Woody, Joey Echeverria, Nikki Grim, Lynn Tucker

 

 

Engineering Professor on Research Sabbatical in Germany

25421-raw

For Georg Pingen, his sabbatical during this fall semester was an opportunity to go home.

Pingen, originally from Germany, is spending the fall semester doing research at a University in Aachen, Germany — RWTH Aachen. Since most of his time as an associate professor of engineering at Union is spent teaching, the sabbatical is an opportunity for Pingen to devote himself full-time to scholarly projects and research that began during his days as a doctoral student.

The work is technical and complex in nature.

“We try to develop models that help engineers improve their designs so that the engineering design process can be accelerated or enhanced — so that when we’re getting into a new area of engineering, not everything takes us as long as it took us from the Wright Brothers’ first plane to the jet planes that we have today,” Pingen said.

“If we want to build something, let’s say we want to design a small bio-medical sensor, we don’t want to spend 100 years to arrive at a good design,” he explains. “And so coming up with computer models that can help in the design process is the underlying goal of the work that I’m doing.”

The research flowed from Pingen’s doctoral studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder.  He’s continued working with students and researchers there over the last eight years. Some of the theory they are trying to implement was developed by the applied math department at RWTH Aachen, a prestigious engineering, science and mathematics institution.

Over the years, he has met some of his colleagues from Aachen at different conferences, and Pingen says his time in Germany thus far has been an outstanding opportunity to work with those mathematicians on a day-to-day basis.

“To be honest, we’ve been stuck a little bit with trying to implement the theory that they have developed in Aachen into our computer model,” Pingen says. “And so it has been nice to just get up from my desk, walk over into the next office, and talk to Dr. Torrilhon or one of his graduate students who actually developed the theory.”

Pingen’s research allows him to stay up-to-date with the latest developments in the engineering field, but it also gives him an opportunity to include Union students in his work.

“I just exchanged a text message with Gabriel Garneau, who is one of our current seniors in the engineering program,” Pingen says. “He is working on a project with me that’s directly related to the work that I’m doing in Aachen.”

In addition to the professional benefits that Pingen is deriving from his time in Germany, he’s enjoying the personal side of things, too. His wife Betsy and their three sons are with him, and the university in Aachen is only about 30 minutes from Pingen’s parents.

After growing up in Germany, Pingen came to the United States in high school as an exchange student at Jackson Christian School. He met Betsy during his time at JCS and convinced his parents that he needed to go to college where Betsy did. So he followed her to Samford University for his undergraduate work.

The Pingens are looking for a church home in Germany, and although the Christian communities in Germany are smaller than those in the United States, Pingen says there are some vibrant evangelical churches.

He’ll be in Germany until early January and will resume his teaching responsibilities at Union in the spring semester.

Georg1Georg2

Students Celebrate Arbor Day by Expanding Union Arboretum

Mark Bolyard, university professor of biology, and Michael Schiebout, associate professor of biology, went out this week with about 15 students to plant nine varieties of trees around campus to celebrate Arbor Day.

These additions bring the total trees in the Union University Arboretum to about 60. Students also helped place signs beside existing trees on campus, which will help educate visitors on what is planted here. Bolyard said he looks forward to continuing this tradition for Campus and Community Day each fall and Arbor Day each spring.

180425_KMW_BiologyPlantingTrees_003

The trees planted this week:

  1. Two Monkey Puzzle trees. These are endangered in their native range, and there are few of them planted in the state of Tennessee. They are unusual looking evergreen trees native to Chile (pictured above).
  2. Two small Catalpa trees, with plans to add a third one, which should become medium sized flowering trees.
  3. Shumard oak, which should have nice fall color.
  4. Burr oak
  5. Warei oak
  6. Black poplar
  7. Black Alder
  8. Kentucky coffee tree
  9. Basswood, which replaces a tree near the BAC that was struggling.

180425_KMW_BiologyPlantingTrees_030180425_KMW_BiologyPlantingTrees_052180425_KMW_BiologyPlantingTrees_070180425_KMW_BiologyPlantingTrees_127180425_KMW_BiologyPlantingTrees_206