Fall 2020 Wrap-Up

By January 4, 2021April 5th, 2024Smeal Academy Newsletter

Welcome to the Smeal Academy: Fall 2020 Resilience

The goal of the Smeal Academy is to equip everyone with best practices and strategies for teaching, learning, and technology to ensure the Smeal community is prepared to respond to the unique challenges presented by COVID-19. This week we will focus on semester wrap-up, strategies for actually having a winter break, and things you need to know to get ready for spring. The eLDIG team wishes the entire Smeal community a very renewing and peaceful break.

Strategies for Self-Care Over Break

We are nearly there! Grades are (or will soon be submitted by the end of the day), and we can take a collective exhale to close out Fall 2020.

That being said, it is likely that your “cup” [read: energy/well-being/outlook] may feel pretty empty after what was likely one of the most challenging semesters of your career. Taking some time for you during the break is critical to refilling your cup.

Researcher and author Brené Brown has talked about the value of creating a “playlist.” She advises being intentional about making dedicated time to those activities through which you “lose track of time and self-consciousness.” Being intentional about making time for the activities that truly replenish us (as opposed to what society/culture/habit tells us we should do) can be transformative.

Another helpful tool is the practice of gratitude. Research shows that it is easy for our brains to focus on the perceived threats and challenges in our lives, but much harder to pick out the positives. Gratitude is a skill that we need to practice. The Greater Good Science Center at Berkeley shared the “Finding Silver Linings” exercise. This brief activity can help you avoid ruminating and refocus your attention on the bright side of tough situations. Research has shown that focusing on optimistic thoughts can increase your happiness and enjoyment of life. That sounds like a great way to approach a new semester and a new year!

And don’t forget the many resources we have available to us at Penn State. This might be a great time to make the Calm app a daily habit. Heide Gibson has many resources available for engaging more fully with the app.

In addition, Penn State has websites with updated information for managing anxiety and stress and staying healthy and strong. Resources include a variety of online wellness classes being held at convenient times throughout the upcoming semester.

At the very least, take time to exhale and feel grateful for the culmination of an amazing semester! We made it through Fall 2020 and learned a lot in the process. Celebrate all that you have accomplished and all the ways that you have grown. Happy New Year!


Current News

  • Spring Semester Remote Until February 15! 
    As you prepare for Spring 2021 instruction, please note that courses will begin in remote format. If you would like to consult with an eLDIG designer about your course design, please email us at: eldig@smeal.psu.edu or fill out our Remote Teaching Support form.Find out more information about Spring 21 Remote Instruction here.We have a number of Smeal Academy session recordings available for your review as you prepare for the upcoming semester.
  • Wellness Day Themes Announced
    Wellness days and themes are as follows:

    • Tuesday, Feb. 9 — Financial and occupational dimensions of wellness
    • Thursday, March 11 — Intellectual and spiritual wellness
    • Wednesday, April 7 — Physical and environmental wellness

    Check out this story for more information.

Upcoming Live Sessions

  • Kaltura: An Introduction for Canvas Users (Presented by IT Learning and Development) 
    Do you have videos, images, or audio files to share with students? Learn how to share your media using Kaltura, Penn State’s media management and streaming service, in this one-hour demonstration session. Explore Kaltura’s key features and capabilities within Canvas, discuss ways video is being used in higher education, and discover which Kaltura tools are best suited for your needs. Join us Monday January 11, 2021 from 9:15 to 10:30am (EST) via Zoom.

NOTE:  Recordings and resources from previous sessions can be found on our eLDIG  Website.

Tips of the Week

  • Tip #1: Remember to Take a Break over Break! Here are some more tips from the Faculty Education Subcommittee to de-stress and enjoy your break: https://www.smore.com/kedan
  • Tip #2: Use LinkedIn Learning Resources to Learn New Skills or Become More Familiar with File Sharing Tools That Will Replace Box.
    • OneDrive LinkedIn Learning Resources
    • Google Drive LinkedIn Learning Resources


Helpful Websites


Check out the eLDIG Website for more resources and support.

Contact Us

Email us at: smealtlthelp@psu.edu or fill out our Remote Teaching Support form.