Dear Members of UNICollaboration and fellow Virtual Exchange colleagues:
The autumn term of a new academic year is underway or about to get underway for many of us and now seemed the ideal time for a letter to all with updates on what has been happening these past several months and some new initiatives and news.
First, I would like to welcome and introduce our new Management Board and our Managing Director. Serving on the Management Board are myself Shannon Sauro (President and Treasurer), Sarah Guth (Vice President), Marco Capellini (Secretary), Lorenza Bacino and Francesca Helm (Members at Large).
The final member of our board is Sara Pittarello, who many of you may know from her time as transition coordinator when UNICollaboration transitioned to its new home in Belgium. In May, Sara took on the role of Managing Director, a position which comes with extended responsibilities for administrative oversight and management decisions. It has been a delight working with Sara these past several months. She can be reached at the new email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
The board and other members of the organization, including our team of trainers, have been hard at work on developing our infrastructure (more on that below) and completing key tasks to ensure continued robust support for training and other UNICollaboration resources.
This included the transition to a new Moodle platform being hosted by Tresipunt, which can be seen here and the rollout of a new logo, which, among other things, fulfilled a requirement for an image that better met the technical needs of our Moodle platform.
Among the infrastructure completed so far is the creation of two new staff positions within the organization. Sarah Guth has taken on the position of Training Coordinator and will be the main point of contact for each training course UNICollaboration offers. This will allow for efficient communication with universities and other associations who take part in training.
The second position, that of Communications and Outreach Coordinator, is being filled by Lorenza Bacino who can be reached at the new email account email@example.com. This role is a focal element in our communication plan and for outward facing communication about UNICollaboration’s initiatives and events.
One of the upcoming events we are at work on is the joint VALIANT/UNICollaboration conference on the theme of “Exploring the impact of Virtual Exchange on Teacher Education”, 8-9 February 2024 in León, Spain. Interest in this conference has been robust and we had the delightful problem of receiving more submissions than anticipated. Acceptance emails will be sent out in the coming weeks, and we hope to see many of you there. If you plan to attend, please be certain to register at this link soon. The registration deadline is December 2023, but spaces are limited.
And finally, I want to conclude with a nod to a few UNICollaboration resources. For those involved in or taking part in training, there is a new email account firstname.lastname@example.org for any queries regarding Moodle access and technical problems. Teresa Mackinnon will be handling or redirecting all queries sent to that account.
And as a reminder, UNICollaboration hosts a Bibliography on Virtual Exchange and Telecollaboration on Zotero. We would like to encourage members to update the bibliography with their recent publications, including completed Dissertations and Theses from recent graduates. Details of how to gain access and set up an account can be found on VE and Telecollaboration Bibliography.
I am looking forward to the next steps UNICollaboration will be taking this year to build our community as well as other activities being organized to support the research and practice of Virtual Exchange.