Dear colleagues: some notes on recent communications from Administration:
Accessibility & Workload
OCADFA resoundingly supports Administration’s recent communication that outlines the need to make course materials accessible for our students. However, there are some concerns that arise from Admin’s communication on this issue. In an email sent to all faculty on August 10th, the VPAP stated: “it is the responsibility of faculty to ensure that all course materials are accessible for all students in a course”.
OCADFA does not agree with this statement. The responsibility to accommodate students rests on OCAD University Administration. Individual faculty members musts follow the reasonable rules of OCADU that are consistent with the MoA. So, for example, faculty cannot simply refuse to provide materials in accessible formats where it is possible to do so. However, the provision of accessible formats is ultimately OCAD U’s responsibility and the resources for doing so should be made available by OCAD U.
There is a legal obligation to caption video content. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) establishes such requirements. However, the key issue is not whether to caption videos but whose obligation it is to have videos that form part of course content captioned. The legal obligation to ensure accessibility rests on the Administration. Captioning videos is a lot of work. It’s not just a matter of running it through Techsmith Relay’s caption feature. You then have to go back and ensure that the content was captioned correctly, as oftentimes there are errors. Additionally, video description of images adds hours to faculty workload.
Furthermore, if a faculty member decides to present materials in a course and the materials cannot be presented in an accessible format with existing resources, the faculty member cannot be prevented from presenting the material. This is an issue of academic freedom. In those cases, Administration should provide resources that will make conversion of the material to an accessible format possible. There must be funding allocated to caption inaccessible library videos – many of which form the bedrock of course curriculum.
Administration needs to make resources available so that faculty members can be supported to ensure course content is accessible. Admin is suggesting this is possible, but only for some courses and this is not good enough. We’ve raised our concerns with Admin and they have been responsive.
Censorship and Course Content
OCADFA is concerned about possible mis-readings of the VPAP’s recent message regarding sensitive course materials such as content that addresses sexuality/gender rights. Specifically, we have been told to be sensitive to students “who are studying outside of Canada and who may need to subject themselves to great risk to talk openly about topics (sexuality, gender, rights and freedoms) or engage with course materials on these subjects.”
Faculty must not read this message as a direction to self-censor and faculty should not restrict their choices about what content to cover in courses. Administration must reinforce that faculty are free to include whatever course content they determine is appropriate in exercising their professional judgment and academic freedom. The principle of Academic Freedom is unique to our profession, it allows us to take intellectual and creative risks and approach controversial subjects in our teaching and artistic practice. Academic Freedom underscores the social purpose of universities in democratic societies. We are committed to the pursuit of truth and this overrides fiscal and political concerns.
Course Outlines Upload Deadline: August 19
Faculty have been informed that Fall course outlines need to be uploaded onto Canvas by August 19th. “A best practice is to post course outlines on Canvas three (3) weeks in advance of the start of a course in accordance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities (AODA) Act.”
Many contract faculty are just receiving their course contracts for the Fall. We raised this with Admin. They agreed and pointed out: “Both the sessional contract language and the LOU on the compensation for sessional faculty taking the training course indicate it is a best practice to post on canvas 3 weeks in advance of the course. The language in the LOU indicates it may not be feasible in all circumstances.”
Many members have asked about how our Intellectual Property rights are affected by the move to online delivery. Appendix F (pg 230) in our MOA speaks to it IP. The LOU OCADFA signed with Administration on April 3, 2020 affirms the continued commitment to the Intellectual Property Rights of OCADFA members.
If you would like to assert these rights and make them known to your student, here is a statement you can use for your course Canvas page:
“Intellectual Property and Copyright in these materials are owned by your instructor, these rights are outlined in our MOA. Please be warned that although it may be easier to record or transcribe lectures and discussions through online platforms, it is your responsibility to refrain from distributing those recordings or transcriptions. Posting material online will violate the privacy and copyright interests of your instructor and fellow students. By sharing my teaching materials online, I do not relinquish copyright and ownership in the materials. Misuse or further distribution whether online or in hard copy without express permission is prohibited.”
Here are some resources on Intellectual Property:
Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO): The CIPO offers many online guides and tutorials on intellectual property rights. The copyright section is the most relevant for course materials.
The CIPO IP Toolbox: The CIPO’s IP Toolbox also has useful guides and fact sheets. See http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cipointernet-internetopic.nsf/eng/h_wr04320.html
CAUT Briefing Note on Remote Teaching: Privacy and Intellectual Property Concerns, April 2020.
Min Sook Lee