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Negotiations: Article 21, Distance Learning

Wright State University Chapter

American Association of University Professors

Negotiations about Distance Learning should be viewed in light of the following item from the current CBA for tenure-eligible and tenured (TET) faculty.

21.10 The University and the AAUP-WSU agree that the provisions regarding distance learning in Article 21 and compensation for distance learning in Appendix F need to be changed. The parties will make a good faith effort to make such changes by June 2012.

Since the parties did not meet the June 2012 target date, it can be expected that the outcome of these negotiations will, in effect, apply to the tenure-eligible and tenured (TET) faculty as well as to the non-tenure-eligible "NTE" faculty.

AAUP-WSU has proposed the article in the left half of the table below for inclusion in the first collective bargaining agreement (CBA) for non-tenure-eligible (NTE) faculty. Our negotiating team handed it to the administration at the initial negotiating session on March 11, 2013. Reports about the status of this article will be found below the article itself.

The administration's first counter-proposal, given to our negotiating team on March 25, 2013, is in the right half of the table below. See this pdf file for a version that shows departures from the current CBA. Note that the administration's proposal deals with matters in Appendix F (Side Letter on Compensation for Distance Learning) in the semesters-based half of the current CBA as well as matters in the current CBA's Article 21.

See our CBA Negotiations page for a roster of the AAUP-WSU negotiating team, brief reports about each Monday's negotiation session, and an article-by-article summary table with links to detailed information about each individual article that either the administration or AAUP-WSU proposes to include in the CBA.

Article 21

Distance Learning

21.1 The term “distance learning” as used herein refers to a planned teaching/learning experience that makes significant use of any of a wide spectrum of instructional technologies to reach students who are separated by physical distance from the teacher. Such technologies may include live or recorded presentations and material using direct signal or cable, transmission by telephone line, fiber optic line, digital and/or analog video tape, audio-tape, CD-ROM, computer or internet technology, e-mail or other electronic means now known or hereafter developed. 21.1 The term “distance learning” as used herein refers to a planned teaching/learning experience that makes significant use of online instruction to reach students who are separated by physical distance from the teacher. Courses primarily taught using IVDL or live video technologies are not subject to these provisions. Nor do these provisions refer to courses which use technology primarily to record lectures and class discussions for student use at different times. A “distance learning course” refers to course or sections of a course offered using online instruction for 75% of more of the course.

21.2 The decision to develop a distance learning course or courseware for an existing course to be taught as distance learning shall be made by the Dean of a College following consultation with the college’s technology committee and the Center for Teaching and Learning.

21.2.1 Any course so developed shall be subject to Department, College, and University procedures for review and approval of curriculum changes.

21.2.2 Any courseware so developed shall be subject to oversight by appropriate faculty committee(s) to ensure course quality and program relevance.

21.3 A distance learning course that is taught using materials developed by a NTE Bargaining Unit Member shall be taught by that Member unless he or she has agreed in writing to an alternative arrangement.

21.4 Within the limits of available resources, the University will provide necessary support for the development and use of distance learning courseware approved by the University. Such support shall include needed training, consultation on instructional design, production of materials, and technical assistance.

21.5 Maximum and minimum class size for a distance learning course will be negotiated by the NTE Bargaining Unit Member and the Department Chair.

21.6 Pursuant to Section 20.2.5, Members who develop distance learning courseware involving significant University resources will enter into a written agreement with the University regarding the rights and responsibilities of both parties.

21.7 All compensation (whether monetary or as release time or some combination of the two), maximum and minimum class size, and support for developing and/or teaching a distance learning course shall be determined and agreed to in writing before the Member develops or teaches a course pursuant to Section 21.2. The University will promptly send a copy of each such written agreement to AAUP-WSU. The University is not obligated to provide additional compensation for Members who develop or teach courses that utilize distance learning technologies if they have not been requested to do so by their Dean pursuant to Section 21.2.

21.2 Distance learning courses and courseware developed for a distance learning course shall be subject to oversight by appropriate faculty committee(s) to ensure (a) course quality, (b) program relevance, and (c) appropriate course design (e.g. under the “quality matters” rubric).

21.3 Within the limits of available resources, the University will provide necessary support for the development and use of distance learning courseware approved by the University. Such support shall include needed training, consultation on instructional design, production of materials, and technical assistance.

21.4 When using distance learning technologies in place of scheduled classes, Members must seek approval pursuant to Section 7.4.2.

21.5 The decision to develop a distance learning course or courseware for an existing course to be taught as distance learning shall be made by the Dean of a College.

21.6 Compensation for distance learning is restricted to (a) teaching distance learning (as defined in Section 21.1 and assigned pursuant to Section 21.5) for the first time, and (b) developing an online distance learning course for the University. The University has no obligation to compensate Members for any other course development or teaching that utilizes distance learning technologies,

21.6.1 Compensation for teaching via distance learning for the first time.

21.6.1.1 The first time that a Bargaining Unit Faculty Member agrees to teach via distance learning after having been asked to do so by the college dean, he or she will have the option to receive release time equal to one standard course within the college or salary equal to a customary course overload contract in that Member’s college.

21.6.1.2 The release time or overload pay pursuant to 21.6.1.1 may be received only once by a Bargaining Unit Faculty Member, and so Members who have been so compensated prior to Fall Semester, 2013 are not eligible for this pay.

21.6.1.3 When teaching a distance learning course, a Member may be required by the University to undergo training and/or to work with an instructional designer.

21.6.2 Compensation for developing an online distance learning course for the University. Whereas developing new courses is a routine element of faculty work that involves no additional compensation, the University may invite a Member to develop a distance learning course that involves significant University resources, that is unusually time consuming for the individual, or that will be taught by other faculty.

21.6.2.1 The decision to ask a Member to develop an online distance learning course for the University pursuant to Section 21.6.2 will be made by the Chair or Dean of that Member’s college, and Members are not obligated to accept such assignments.

21.6.2.2 When a Bargaining Unit Faculty Member is offered and agrees to develop a distance learning course pursuant to Section 21.6.2, that Member and the University will enter into a written agreement outlining the rights and responsibilities of the parties. The agreement will cover, at a minimum, compensation for developing the course (if any); ownership of materials developed; the University’s right to have other faculty members use the developed materials to teach the course; provisions for the modification, reuse, or sale of courseware; the responsibility for obtaining copyright permission for items used in the creation of courseware; and the distribution of royalties (if any). Absent such a written agreement, distance learning courseware, instructional software, and other multimedia works are regarded as traditional faculty products of scholarly activity pursuant to the Section 20.2.3, and the Member is not entitled to compensation for developing the course.

21.6.3 The University is not obligated to provide additional compensation for Members who develop or teach courses that utilize distance learning technologies if they have not been requested to do so by their Dean pursuant to Section 21.5.

21.7 Assigning Bargaining Unit Faculty Members to develop or teach Distance Learning Classes.

21.7.1 The University may assign a distance learning class as part of a Bargaining Unit Faculty Member’s workload if (a) the Member has taught a distance learning course pursuant to Section 21.6.1, (b) the Member’s letter of appointment states that teaching assignments might include distance learning courses, or (c) the Member agrees to the assignment.

21.8 Office Hours. A NTE Bargaining Unit Member teaching a distance learning course may hold some of the normally expected office hours (see Section 7.5) online. If all classes taught during a given semester are distance learning courses, the Member must still maintain sufficient on campus availability to meet the reasonable needs of the Member’s advisees. 21.8 Office Hours. A Bargaining Unit Member teaching a distance learning course may hold some of the normally expected office hours (see Section 7.5) online. If all classes taught during a given semester are distance learning courses, the Member must still maintain sufficient on-campus availability to meet the Member’s service obligations and the reasonable needs of the Member’s advisees.
21.9 Learning Environment. Consistent with the provisions of Section 7.6, a NTE Bargaining Unit Member may block a disruptive student’s access to a distance learning course. 21.9 Learning Environment. Consistent with the provisions of Section 7.6, a Bargaining Unit Member may block a disruptive student’s access to a distance learning course.

Status of Negotiations about the Above Article

August 20, 2013 update

The parties reached tentative agreement on this article, and they initialed the TA'd article on August 19, 2013.

March 25, 2013

The administration submitted a counter-proposal as shown in the right half of the table above. See this pdf file for a version that shows departures from the current CBA for tenure-eligible and tenured (TET) faculty. Note that the administration's proposal deals with matters in Appendix F (Side Letter on Compensation for Distance Learning) in the semesters-based half of the current CBA as well as matters in the current CBA's Article 21.

Our negotiating team stated that the parties should pay more attention to the definition of distance learning, and that the present definition is not suitable in light of current developments (e.g., MOOCs -- Massively Open On-Line Courses; the administration's contract with the Academic Partnerships company for the College of Education and Human Services; the forays of Pearson into higher education) and related questions (Should WSU allow college credit to be earned via MOOCs? via the taking of competency exams?)

[As background, let us report that the AAUP-WSU Executive Committee has found much to be concerned about in the administration's contract with Academic Partnerships for CEHS, and we have thus been asking if any other colleges at WSU were developing relationships with that company; the central administration reported the answer "no" for more than a month when it learned that without its knowledge another college was indeed engaged in conversations with Academic Partnerships, albeit with no contract signed.]

We stated that issues of this kind impacts the faculty's ability to govern academic requirements for degrees and to likewise govern the means by which students can fulfill them. Thus the parties are discussing not just distance learning courses taught by Wright State but also those from other sources; the quality of those courses matters to AAUP-WSU!

The administration stated, as it has done before, that the present distance learning agreement implies great cost associated with DL courses, and that it hopes to expand WSU's DL offerings after the present DL agreement is revised.

Regarding the administration's proposal for section 21.5, we stated that we would not accept such language if it meant that a Dean could for example decide to hire Academic Partnerships to develop courseware. In reply the administrations stated that its intent was for a WSU faculty member to do these things.

Regarding the administration's proposal for section 21.6.1.3, we stated that it would be difficult for us to accept this requirement; for example, nobody presumed to force faculty to take a computer course before using a classroom computer for the first time! The administration replied that it understood this concern and that it had an interest in quality control. In reply, we stated that we have a greater concern about the administration not providing faculty the support they need for teaching DL classes (not to mention other classes), recalling the incident in which students taking WSU final exams online had their exams lost due to the absence of a backup server. More generally we stated that the administration has a poor record in providing technology support for faculty, despite certain language in the current CBA (e.g., in Article 18) intended to ensure adequate support; thus language like that the administration proposed for section 21.3 offers us little comfort. We also asked about academic security, e.g., if the administration has an obligation to ensure that students who are taking exams in DL classes are, in fact, who they claim to be.

[As more background, it should be noted that the current CBA specifies in section 21.5 that, "Maximum and minimum class size for a distance learning course will be negotiated by the Bargaining Unit Faculty Member and the Department Chair." Since a faculty member protected by this CBA is under no compulsion to agree with the Department Chair on this issue, the administration cannot force such a faculty member to accept a DL teaching assignment.]

We noted that the administration's proposal does not feature class size language and that it would apparently allow the administration to force faculty to accept a DL teaching assignment. The administration stated, in reply, that it did not wish to be held hostage to a faculty member's insistence that maximum class size should be 5. It stated that right now, DL is "so expensive" and "not going anywhere at WSU" (approximate quotations). Citing DL activity in RSCoB and at the Lake Campus, we disagreed with the latter evaluation.

Finally, our negotiating team told the administration that we would reply to its proposal, though probably not by the next (April 1) negotiating session.

March 18, 2013

Discussion of this article began when the administration noted that from the corresponding article in the current CBA for tenure-eligible and tenured (TET) faculty, we had deleted section 21.10, which reads as follows:

The University and the AAUP-WSU agree that the provisions regarding distance learning in Article 21 and compensation for distance learning in Appendix F need to be changed. The parties will make a good faith effort to make such changes by June 2012.

We explained simply by noting that the date June 2012 had already passed. We further stated that we regard our proposal for this article as being a placeholder, pending eventual agreement as to what changes should be made. We stated that one key issue for us is whether the administration can require BUFMs to teach distance learning classes.

Finally, the administration stated that it might be able to formulate a counter-proposal on Distance Learning based on an informal communication on this matter it sent us at the very end of 2012.


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This page was last modified on Tuesday, August 20, 2013. Corrections, comments, and suggestions are most welcome. Contact the webmaster for this page (Jim Vance) at jimvance.wsu@gmail.com, telephone 937-775-2206. To contact the chapter, please see our Staff, Officers, and Committees page.