SymphonizED 2021 Recap: Community, Connection, and Conversation

Nov 19, 2021 2:27:42 PM

Community and connection are hallmarks of education. Today, more than ever, educators need a way to collaborate with like-minded individuals and have real conversations about the challenges and opportunities faced in online education. That’s why we chose to host our very first conference!

SymphonizED 2021 was a virtual conference that brought  educators, like you, together to discuss and uncover new ways to shape more engaging, dynamic online learning experiences. 

Here’s a recap of the event and a few key takeaways.

Real Connections, Real Conversations

SymphonizED 2021 provided an environment for all educators to access content, resources, and ideas to help them excel. But even more important, it provided a space for conversation. And wow, did our attendees connect! 

Through vibrant session chats, lounge table discussions, and 1:1 messaging, SymphonizED 2021 attendees connected, shared, and learned a whole lot from each other. They shared new ideas and best practices for designing, teaching, and managing engaged online classes. They also talked a lot about what’s working - and what’s not - in their own online classrooms. 

While there were a lot of sessions and discussions, there were a few common themes throughout the course of the day.


Accessibility is a hot topic as we work to create more inclusive environments for all types of learners regardless of location, background, or ability. SymphonizED 2021 attendees discussed how educators can extend their online classrooms to diverse populations for more equitable educational experiences. 

"When we talk about digital accessibility we like to focus on yes, it is law and it is required, but it's just doing the right thing. It's a matter of creating a universal design environment where everyone can learn and everyone can thrive." - Dr. Michelle Singh

Data & Analytics

The Regular and Substantive Interaction session and the corresponding lounge table were full of discussion about how to better empower faculty with student and course data to make informed decisions. 

Panelists, Dr. Michael Patrick, Alexandra Salas, PH.D, and Dr. Michelle Singh talked about the new federal guidelines for RSI (watch the recording here!) and Harmonize Founder and CEO, Marcus Popetz gave a preview of the new Engagement Insights tool designed to empower instructors with actionable, personalized data to help pull students back into class conversations.

Team Training

As online learning continually evolves, SymphonizED 2021 attendees were eager to discuss strategies and techniques that can be used to train teams. Conversations centered on ways to improve online learning tools and adoption and how to troubleshoot technical issues.

Attendees also engaged with SymphonizED 2021 sponsors whose missions are to help educators be successful. A big THANK YOU to all of our participating partners including Blackboard, D2L, Turnitin, and Ouriginal. 

Wisdom From Leaders in Education

Dr. Jeff Borden, Chief Academic and VP of Academic Affairs at D2L, kicked things off with an inspiring keynote presentation. He proposed that “we’re doing it all wrong” when it comes to student success. 

In his lively and inspiring talk, he suggested ways to model behaviors, language, and actions to facilitate holistic, personalized, and meaningful learning experiences. 

"There is No Such Thing as an Average Student"

SymphonizED 2021 attendees resonated with and repeated Dr. Borden’s words throughout the conference. 

"There really is no such thing as an average student. There are students who are better at certain things than others. Students who like certain things more than others. There are students who are more motivated in certain contexts than others. But there is no such thing as an average student." - Dr. Jeff Borden

And, because there “is no such thing as an average student, there also is no such thing as an average professor!" We can’t thank Dr. Borden enough for joining us and sharing his wisdom. You can watch his entire presentation on demand here >>

Best Practices in Online Learning

Best practices in education and actionable strategies to apply them continued to be a talking point in the Regular and Substantive Interaction: In Practice and Innovative and Unique Ways to Engage Students sessions. 

The panelists shared learnings and suggestions gleaned from their years of personal experience in online education. Everyone - whether new to online learning or a seasoned pro - walked away with at least one new idea to help them better engage their students. 

Regular and Substantive Interaction (RSI)

The RSI session was a favorite among attendees. 

The panelists discussed the new federal guidelines and ways to effectively guide instructors to teach and engage students consistently. 

Dr. Michelle Singh explained her approach in, "encouraging our institutions to remove the intimidation factor of a federal guideline and going back to the fact that this is just effective practice. It's something we should be doing."

Fellow panelist, Alexandra Salas, PH.D added “[RSI] lays the foundation for what interaction needs to be for students to benefit from their education." 

All three panelists shared their favorite 10 resources for using regular and substantive interaction in online classes.

View Their 10 Resources for Using RSI

Fun and Prizes at SymphonizED 2021

After the challenges we’ve all weathered these past 18+ months, we felt it was time for a little bit of fun too. From a lively virtual scavenger hunt to random prize drawings, the day was chock full of opportunities to play and engage. And, for those of you who took home a prize, (we’re looking at you, Tara, Cheryl, Tanya, Charles, and Paula), we hope you enjoy using them at home and/or to enrich your classroom experience!

Online education is complex, ever-changing, and growing each and every day. 

At Harmonize, we aim to be your partner in teaching and learning online. Our goal is to help you better meet the needs of your students, ease the administration burden and instructor workload, and share valuable content and resources to support your online learning environments. We’re creating a community where you can make new connections, solicit advice, and collect ideas from like-minded educators to improve student engagement and deepen learning. 

If you joined us at SymphonizED 2021, thank you! We hope you loved the event as much as we loved hosting you. 

If you didn’t have a chance to attend, you can access recordings from the keynote presentation and general sessions on-demand. 

Watch the Session Recordings

We invite you to connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter to keep these vibrant conversations going.

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