Davis Faculty Association

Archive for the ‘Online Education’ Category

First round is on us, June 10th at Sudwerk

The Board of the Davis Faculty Association invites all UCD faculty to join us over a beer – or other drink – at Davis’s Sudwerk restaurant at 5:00 pm on Wednesday, June 10th. The first drink will be courtesy of the DFA.

Come discuss the issues confronting UC. We want to hear about your concerns, your suggestions, and any other input you may have for the Board of the DFA. To be effective in representing you, we need your help.

Please forward this message to your colleagues! As the University of California continues to face challenges, we need concerted action as much as ever.

Please join us on the 10th.

What has the DFA been up to lately?

The DFA belongs to the Council of UC Faculty Associations (CUCFA). By far the largest independent dues-supported organization representing the faculty at the campuses of the University of California, CUCFA coordinates activities of the Faculty Associations on a statewide level, acts as collective bargaining agent for faculty at UC Santa Cruz, and maintains a lobbyist in Sacramento. The DFA Executive Director, Eric Hays, can be reached by email at info@cucfa.org and the 2013-2015 DFA chair can be reached at scalettar@physics.ucdavis.edu.

Here is a brief reminder of some of the things the DFA has been up to in the past year:

• The DFA and CUCFA continue to produce material that highlights the disinvestment in higher education by California’s governor. An example of such work includes the annually updated “How Much Would It Cost to Restore California’s Public Higher Education?” This document became the centerpiece of our response to UC’s proposal to raise tuition up to 5% per year for the next five years for undergraduate and graduate students.

• CUCFA formed a partnership with the American Association of University Professors in defense and promotion of academic freedom, shared university governance, and the economic security of all those engaged in teaching and research in higher education. Founded in 1915, the AAUP has helped to shape American higher education by developing the standards and procedures that maintain quality in education and academic freedom in this country’s colleges and universities.
• Concerns by the DFA resulted in a change in the practice of distributing materials from outside interest groups by the Chancellor’s office.  These materials are henceforth accompanied by a statement “that distributing material does not imply endorsement”.
• CUCFA produced a statement on academic freedom in response to a statement made by UCB Chancellor Dirks that evoked civility, echoing language recently used by the Chancellor of the University of Illinois, Urbana and the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois (especially its Chair Christopher Kennedy) concerning the refused appointment of Steven Salaita. It also mirrored language in the effort by the University of Kansas Board of Regents to regulate social media speech and the Penn State administration’s new statement on civility. “Although each of these administrative statements have responded to specific local events, the repetitive invocation of “civil” and “civility” to set limits to acceptable speech bespeaks a broader and deeper challenge to intellectual freedom on college and university campuses.”

• CUCFA objected that Governor Brown proposed Regental nominees prior to notification, much less consultation, with the advisory committee specified in Article 9 Sec. 9e of the Constitution and therefore requested that the California Senate’s Rules Committee reject the nominees proposed by the Governor.
• CUCFA lobbied for passage of AB 1476 which would have provided UC with $50 million in additional state funding in the current year. Governor Brown vetoed AB 1476.

• CUCFA objected when UC President Janet Napolitano rescinded the 1989 Guidelines on University-Industry Relations without consulting with the Academic Senate.

• The DFA opposed the demolition of Solano and Orchard Park Student-Family Housing without a plan to replace them with similar subsidized graduate student housing: “This change will seriously undermine the efforts that faculty and the university generally are making to bring a diverse set of graduate students to our campus.”
• The DFA, and FA chapters across the state, supported graduate student workers in their negotiations with UC. At the time of the negotiations according to UCOP’s own survey, student stipends lagged behind comparative institutions at least $2,697 making recruiting graduate students into UC programs difficult. A new contract was ultimately ratified in June of 2014.

• The DFA is one of the sponsors of the annual Charles P. Nash Prize, named for a former Chair of the DFA and longtime Vice President of CUCFA. The Nash Prize is awarded annually to acknowledge achievement in and commitment to promoting shared governance in keeping with Charlie Nash’s exceptional efforts in promoting and advocating for faculty interests and welfare. The 2014 Nash Prize was awarded to Linda Bisson, The Maynard E. Amerine Chair in Viticulture and Enology.
• CUCFA continues to produce material that details the persistent compensation gap between UC faculty and faculty at comparison institutions. This year’s report was titled “The Degradation of Faculty Welfare and Compensation.

• CUCFA, through its unionized Santa Cruz chapter, continues to work with UC to create online contracts that provide UC with the necessary clearance to distribute online coursework without requiring faculty to give up their intellectual property, their ownership of lectures and all accompanying materials.

• The restructuring of the university has led to a massive and costly expansion of senior administrative positions on campus. System wide, there are now more management positions than regular teaching faculty. Increasingly, significant policy decisions are made by administrators with inadequate direct experience and insufficient faculty input. We seek to reverse this process and make Davis again a faculty-led campus. We support the merit and promotion system and equitable salaries.
For more information on our activities, browse our website http://ucdfa.org. If you have colleagues who are not current members of the DFA who you think support the ideals of the organization, please encourage them to join at http://ucdfa.org/join.

 
With best wishes,

The DFA Executive Board

What has the DFA been up to lately?

The DFA uses a variety of advocacy strategies: we meet with and write letters to campus and system-wide administrators and to Academic Senate leaders; we organize with other faculty, staff union and student groups on this campus and in other higher education sectors around issues of shared concern; as an affiliate of the Council of UC Faculty Associations (CUCFA), we also lobby in Sacramento, where we meet regularly with legislators and their staff and where we have helped fund and organize “Educate the State” rallies; we speak at teach-ins and educate at workshops.

Here is a brief reminder of some of the things the DFA has been up to in the past year:

• The DFA endorsed Proposition 30 (a tax increase to fund public education) and opposed proposition 38 (a conflicting tax proposal) and distributed information that explained these positions.

• The DFA, through CUCFA, was a vital part of the opposition to SB 520, Senator Steinberg’s bill that could have at one point required UC to purchase MOOCs through private companies such as Coursera and Udacity. CUCFA President Bob Meister participated in a number of panel discussions about MOOCs that spring – usually the main opponent on those panels to Coursera founder Daphne Koller and Udacity founder Sebastian Thrun – with a message of support for faculty led innovation in the effective use of information technology, online materials, and hybrid approaches to enhance undergraduate teaching; with an emphasis on the importance of a campus and classroom-based vision of learning and intellectual exchange for all students, including the most disadvantaged; and with a message of concern about the ability of outsourced MOOCs to meet the needs of students for a quality education.

• CUCFA, through its unionized Santa Cruz chapter, challenged UC’s Coursera contract, which asked faculty to sign over all intellectual property rights to their lectures when Coursera did not require this. The DFA has a long history of defending against attempts by UC to take ownership of their lectures from faculty.

• UC planned to cut central funding of campus healthcare facilitators. The DFA opposed this, along with other FA chapters and other campus groups. UC agreed to continue funding the healthcare facilitators. We work to preserve UC benefits and pension.

• The DFA rejected the draft campuswide freedom of expression policy and asked that it be recast to more accurately reflect the rights and protections for free expression which are so valued on a university campus, as well as the history that UCD students have in the responsible and safe voicing of their opinions. The DFA is always concerned with safeguarding rights of academic freedom and political speech.

• The DFA noted the lack of assistance from the Student Disability Center in finding space to accommodate student exams. While instructors have an obligation to provide recommended academic accommodations, it is required of the University, not the instructor, to identify space or personnel to monitor accomodative examinations.

• Last fall, the DFA co-sponsored a series of multi-campus gatherings of faculty to discuss actions and interventions in defense of the public nature of the University.

• The restructuring of the university has led to a massive and costly expansion of senior administrative positions on campus. System wide, there are now more management positions than regular teaching faculty. Increasingly, significant policy decisions are made by administrators with inadequate direct experience and insufficient faculty input. We seek to reverse this process and make Davis again a faculty-led campus. We support the merit and promotion system and equitable salaries.

For more information on our activities, browse the rest of this website. If you have colleagues who are not current members of the DFA who you think support the ideals of the organization, please encourage them to join at http://ucdfa.org/join/

Privatizing UC Instruction, SB520

SB 520, a controversial bill that proposes that California public universities partner with private technology companies to provide general education classes online, continues to move through the state legislature. A June 5th article in the East Bay Express explores the issue, quoting Colleen Lye and James Vernon, Co-Chairs of the Berkeley Faculty Association, a sister chapter of the DFA.

An excerpt:

“In March, The Academic Senate of the University of California released an open letter criticizing the bill’s inclusion of private corporate interests. “There is no possibility that UC faculty will shirk its responsibility to our students by ceding authority over courses to any outside agency,” the letter stated.

“Some of the largest venture capital firms in Silicon Valley have heavily invested in educational technology start-ups like Udacity, edX, and Coursera. Last week, Coursera announced partnerships with ten public universities, including the State University of New York system, to offer for-credit courses to currently enrolled students.

“The UC Berkeley Faculty Association (BFA) and other faculty groups have also expressed concern that private providers may infringe upon their intellectual property rights, which identify the instructor as the owner of its coursework.”

Read full article

New York Times editorial on the magical thinking around online education

The New York Times editorializes on state budget cuts to California’s public higher education systems and the state legislature’s magical thinking around online education.

The full article is online at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/31/opinion/sunday/resurrecting-californias-public-universities.html?_r=0

An excerpt follows:

“The same California State Legislature that cut the higher education budget to ribbons, while spending ever larger sums on prisons, now proposes to magically set things right by requiring public colleges and universities to offer more online courses. The problem is that online courses as generally configured are not broadly useful. They work well for highly skilled, highly motivated students but are potentially disastrous for large numbers of struggling students who lack basic competencies and require remedial education. These courses would be a questionable fit for first-time freshmen in the 23-campus California State University system, more than 60 percent of whom need remedial instruction in math, English or both.”

A note about proposed online ed legislation

The DFA, in conjunction with CUCFA staff and the other faculty associations, have been busy monitoring the impending state legislation about online courses. In a previous email, we informed you of our letter of inquiry to the UCD Senate leadership and also invited you to sign an online petition opposing Senate Bill 520, which has so far received the lion’s share of attention. If you haven’t already you can still sign that petition (which currently has almost 1500 signatures) at

http://signon.org/sign/uc-faculty-opposition?source=c.em.cp&r_by=985930

Senate Chair Nachtergaele also wrote to the entire UCD faculty this morning providing further details of the Senate’s position on this issue.

There are also other related bills being considered in the Senate or the Assembly, some of them arguably less bad than SB 520, but all of them giving cause for our concern. Some other bills include:

* Assembly Bill 386 – Allows any student within the CSU System to take an online course on any other CSU campus, with some restrictions.
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/postquery?bill_number=ab_386&sess=CUR

* Assembly Bill 387 Among other things, mandates 10% of new CSU courses be online offerings.
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/postquery?bill_number=ab_387&sess=CUR

* Assembly Bill 1306 – Establishes a New University of California as the fourth higher education segment. The New University will provide no instruction, but shall issue college credit, baccalaureate and associate degrees to any person capable of passing examinations.
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/postquery?bill_number=ab_1306&sess=CUR

* Senate Bill 520 – Directs the three higher education segments to identify the 50 most “bottlenecked” courses, creates a statewide pool of these classes, after a standardized review. Approval process allows private vendors to offer these classes for credit.
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/postquery?bill_number=sb_520&sess=CUR

* Senate Bill 547. Similar to SB 520 but works much more within the current structures. It assigns course development and approval to the Academic Senates of UC, CSU and CCC, working jointly. In contrast, SB 520 assigned it to a 9-member panel which does not yet exist, whose original purpose was to help create free online textbooks.
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/postquery?bill_number=sb_547&sess=CUR

Meanwhile, Bob Meister, Chair of CUCFA, has drafted an op-ed that will hopefully see print soon. Also, the UCSB Faculty Association has developed a set of bullet points, available here. This is obviously a complex issue and some of us following it closely continue to disagree (including about some of the points made in the UCSB document).

We’ll continue to monitor this legislation as it evolves, and would be happy to hear from any DFA members about their opinions on this legislation.

Best wishes,

Scott C. Shershow
Professor of English
Chair, Davis Faculty Association

Add your voice to a call for changes to SB 520

The Davis Faculty Association is gravely concerned about SB 520, a bill currently being considered by the state legislature, which would mandate acceptance of online courses from any source for academic credit at the University of California, the California State University and Community Colleges.  This proposal seems to us to have profound potential implications for shared governance, educational quality, faculty control of curriculum, standards for degrees, and much more. The DFA recently wrote to UCD Senate Chair Bruno Nachtergaele to express its concern about this legislation, and in response were referred to the Open Letter from Bob Powell and Council Chair Bill Jacob, the chairs of the system-wide Senate, which has already been sent to all faculty.

The DFA writes now to invite you to add your name to the petition linked to below, which originated with the Berkeley Faculty Association, and which is addressed to Sen. Darrell Steinberg (CA-6), the sponsor of SB 520, asking him to withdraw or modify SB 520. Please use the petition’s comment field to note your affiliation with UC.

http://signon.org/sign/uc-faculty-opposition?source=s.icn.em.mt&r_by=7376435

For more information on this impending legislation, see the various links at:

http://utotherescue.blogspot.com/2013/03/the-academic-senate-and-others-respond.html

Senator Steinberg’s proposed online classes bill

Today’s New York Times (and a number of other news sources) had an article about proposed legislation from Senator Steinberg that would require California’s public higher education systems to accept transfer credits from select online course providers for 50 of the state’s most impacted courses (some of these courses would be Community College or CSU courses but some could be UC courses, they have not been selected yet).

The New York Times article is available online at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/13/education/california-bill-would-force-colleges-to-honor-online-classes.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&hp

Lillian Taiz, the president of the California Faculty Association (the union representing CSU faculty), is quoted in the article:

“What’s really going on is that after the budget cuts have sucked public higher education dry of resources,” she continued, “the Legislature’s saying we should give away the job of educating our students.”

The language of the proposed bill is not available from the Legislative Counsel’s website yet, but I’ve attached a PDF of the proposed language. Also attached is a PDF press release from Senator Steinberg’s office.

New York Times article about Jerry Brown and UC

An interesting article in yesterday’s New York Times about Jerry Brown’s approach to UC:

Link to full article:
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/29/education/jerry-brown-looks-at-reshaping-higher-education-in-california.html?hp&_r=0

Excerpt:

“Governor Brown holds a position on the board of trustees for both Cal State and UC. Since November, he has attended every meeting of both boards, asking about everything from dormitories to private donations and federal student loans. He is twisting arms on issues he has long held dear, like slashing executive pay and increasing teaching requirements for professors — ideas that have long been met with considerable resistance from academia. But Mr. Brown, himself a graduate of University of California, Berkeley, has never been a man to shrink from a debate…

“Over all, the University of California receives 44 percent less from the state than it did in 1990, accounting for inflation. The governor’s proposed increase still leaves the schools with about $625 million less than they received in 2007. At the same time, a record number of students applied for admissions to the system’s 10 campuses for next fall. While the California State University system has capped freshman enrollment, administrators at the UC system, which has about 190,000 undergraduate students, have been reluctant to formally do so, in part to prevent limiting access to in-state students…

“So far, the governor has focused his attention on whether the universities should be offering more courses online, requiring faculty to teach more classes and cutting administrators’ pay.”

UC and free online course offerings

Free online course offerings are suddenly in the news again. First, there were a series of articles about a Silicon Valley start-up called Coursera. See, for example, “Inside the Coursera Contract: How an Upstart Company Might Profit From Free Courses”

http://chronicle.com/article/How-an-Upstart-Company-Might/133065/

These articles led Wendy Brown, the UC Berkeley Faculty Association’s Co-Chair, to post an article titled: “Where’s UC Online Now and How Will We Get Our $7 Million Back?” (July 19)

http://keepcaliforniaspromise.org/2714/wheres-uc-online-now-and-how-will-we-get-our-7-million-back

The Berkeley Daily Californian picked up on Wendy’s post and produced an article: “UC, campus looks to expand online education program” (July 22)

http://www.dailycal.org/2012/07/22/ucs-online-involvement/

And today, edX, a Coursera competitor, announced that UC Berkeley has signed on with them:

https://www.edx.org/press/uc-berkeley-joins-edx

A couple of articles prompted by the edX press release have already appeared, such as: “Free online courses divide UC professors”

http://www.mercurynews.com/education/ci_21144592

If any of you are considering offering a course via edX, I would be interested in what sort of contract language they use to get distribution rights to UC faculty lectures and course materials. Remember that the Faculty Associations has worked over the years to protect faculty ownership of lectures — UC does not own them. (The Coursera contract is linked to from the first article above.)

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