COVID-19 Update: August 17, 2020
Message from the Association President
I hope that all is well with you and that you’ve taken my advice to take some time to relax. I have somewhat taken my own advice, so I’m writing this from Sointula, up-Island, to provide you with some updates.
Welcoming our New President
First, I would like to welcome Kevin Hall, who will take over as our new President on November 1st, 2020. I’ve written to welcome Dr. Hall to UVic and let him know that given his record, the Association is hoping that under his leadership we will see major tangible improvements in research support and research excellence in all fields and all approaches to research and creative endeavour across the University, as well as real transformative change in the areas of equity, inclusion, anti-racism and reconciliation.
The Association also very much appreciates the many years of leadership and service that President Jamie Cassels has given UVic, both as Provost and President. We have been fortunate to have a leader of such decency and integrity, as well as respect for UVic’s collegial values and traditions. While given our respective positions, the Association and the President did not always agree, President Cassels has always worked extremely hard to support UVic faculty and the broader mission of the University. He has moved UVic forward on many important fronts.
Fall Teaching Issues
The updates below involve fall teaching. They don’t answer all your questions, as I am awaiting responses from the University on some issues. Nonetheless, this update is still pretty long, I’m afraid.
Recording and Downloading Lecture
As you know, there are various methods of recording lectures:
- Self-record using Zoom or Kaltura, in advance or during class. For a full set of resources for online recording and instruction/lectures please click here.
- For the fall, for those who are teaching face-to-face, I have been told that you also have the option of requesting a professional videographer to record classroom sessions, for those students who cannot attend in person. If you want to do this, contact Systems via this link. Recording needs to be booked, preferably before the start of the term. If you are teaching face-to-face, the fee will be covered by the central administration. If you are teaching online and want to access this service, your unit or Faculty will have to cover the costs.
Student Consent for Recording Lectures and Class Discussions
If you are going to record a lecture or class discussion, you must first notify students and explain the purpose. Notification only is required and students do not need to provide consent for recording. For more details please see “How can I record my session and share it with students?” in the FAQ section for Zoom on the TeachAnywhere site.
Am I required to record my lectures?
Members have asked whether they can be required to record their lectures and/or class discussions.The Administration advises that while the recording of courses is not generally required, faculty are asked to address accessibility issues for students who need alternate formats or who cannot be physically in the classroom due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions or illness. At this time, most recordings are being done to provide students with course material who cannot participate synchronously (particularly because of issues with time zones).
If you do not wish to record your lectures, you may need to provide clear reasons as to why recording is not appropriate or viable, and you will be required to provide equally detailed material in another form for students who are not able to attend class, which may increase your workload. If you have any questions or concerns about being required to record your lectures, please contact our Membership Services Officers:
Reuben Kellen – [email protected]
Ben Johnson – [email protected]
Student Downloading and Posting of Course Materials
LTSI is developing technical solutions that we hope will address issues related to students downloading and posting course materials in unauthorized ways. The Administration will be informing students through various platforms that such actions constitute violations of University policy. For more information on how various platforms can enable you to limit student downloading see the most recent Member Bulletin regarding recording lectures and student downloading on the Association website.
I have been asked by Members whether they can remain with CourseSpaces if they prefer not to transition to Brightspace. I have been told that given the very real problems with CourseSpaces, that this is not possible, except in very exceptional circumstances.
I have also been asked about issues with students accessing online learning from China, and I have been told that LTSI is doing all they can to address the range of issues related to this. You can direct any international accessibility issues to [email protected].
I have received a number of concerns from Members who have found that LTSI support people have not responded to them in a timely manner. Laurene Sheilds, Executive Director of LTSI, has acknowledged to me that this has been a particular problem in the last few weeks, as their staff have had to deal with 2500 support requests for Brightspace and migration. She informs me that since the initial work has now been largely completed, LTSI staff are now able to provide responses within 24 hours for all requests for support for online teaching. Laurene also acknowledges that faculty have very different needs and interests in terms of instruction for online teaching, which means that workshops may not work for everyone. She encourages those who are having difficulty with the move to online teaching to book one-on-one consultations with LTSI staff at [email protected] (Subject Line: Request for one-on-one consultation). Some Members have told me that these one-on-one sessions have been particularly useful for them. Each Faculty has a specific LTSI consultant team who can assist instructors, either in small groups or one-on-one. Your Dean’s office should be able to provide you with the list of Faculty specific support people. Four faculties also have “faculty mentors” – specific faculty members with experience in online teaching – who are able to provide support in this regard. Many faculty who taught online during the summer have shared their valuable knowledge and experience in Let’s Talk About Teaching and their presentations are available on TeachAnywhere.
I am aware that this is a very stressful time, and I know that most of our members always treat staff with courtesy and appreciation. I hope that at this very difficult time you will remember that staff (who include many of our own students working in LTSI co-op placements) are doing the best they can to support you.
I have been asked about the tracking features in Brightspace, which can be used to track student data in great detail. I have been told that Brightspace tracks data at a similar level to CourseSpaces, but that in Brightspace these “descriptive analytics features on student engagement” are visible to students and instructors. I have been told by Laurene Sheilds that this data is for the information of students and instructors and that “there is not any project/initiative that I am aware of, to track data for more general use.”
Health and Safety Issues
I have been asked by Members about university plans regarding health and safety issues, particularly for face to face classes in the fall. Some information is available here and I have been told that more detailed health and safety guidelines for face to face teaching should be available within the next two weeks. These instructions will not apply to more specialized classes, such as those in Fine Arts and Science labs, which will be developing more specific health and safety plans. A decision about the extent to which masks will be required on campus will be announced within the next two weeks. The University has approved funding to hire “classroom ambassadors” to help support safe transitions between classes in high volume areas. More details will be released soon.
Note: If you had previously agreed to teach a course face to face but no longer feel comfortable doing so, you should inform your Chair of this as soon as possible so that students can be made aware that the class has been moved to an online format.
As some of you are already aware, the University is requiring that all faculty, librarians and staff complete an online COVID-19 safety training module. This training is mandated by the government and provides a general overview of COVID-19 and the University’s health and safety protocols. It took me about 20 minutes to complete. In addition to this training, you will need to wait for the more detailed instructions I mention above to have a clear sense of what will be required to teach safely face to face.
I realize that you are all extremely busy but encourage you to do the training (you don’t have to do it cheerfullyJ). Since this is a government mandated training requirement, it falls under s. 12.5 of the Collective Agreement, which states that as part of fulfilling Academic and Professional Responsibilities Association Members shall:
- g) undertake training and development offered by the University to meet its legislative obligations, manage risk to the University and the Member, or to inform Members of matters related to their Academic or Professional Responsibilities, their work-related legal obligations, and their responsibilities under University or Senate policy. Such training and development costs will be borne by the University and a Member’s participation is counted as Service.
The University will track who has completed this module, so you may be getting reminders about doing it until it is completed.
In closing, I’d like to remind you of the Association’s Facebook group for COVID-19 which includes many posts shared by Members with tips about online teaching, as well as both depressing and amusing posts about our current circumstances. We’ve also opened up our Twitter account to the public, so please make sure to follow us there as well.
You will be receiving further information from the Association and the University over the coming weeks. This is not an easy time, but as cases increase in British Columbia, we must all do our best to keep ourselves, our families and our students safe. And as Dr. Henry says, we must be kind to each other, and to ourselves.
If you have any questions about any of these issues, please feel free to contact our Membership Services Officers:
Reuben Kellen – [email protected]
Ben Johnson – [email protected]
Please note that I will have limited access to email for the rest of this week but will try to respond to any urgent issues. I will be back at work on August 24th.
All the very best,
University of Victoria Faculty Association
Email: [email protected]