April 16, 2024

AAUP Update:

Hello Colleagues,
The purpose of this email is to provide you with brief updates on academic restructuring and contract violations.

1.  Academic Restructuring – Hopefully many of you have had a chance to look over the final recommendation reports put forth by the academic restructuring workgroups. If not, please visit http://cms.montgomerycollege.edu/EDU/Department.aspx?id=43665 and click on “academic restructuring.” I have heard from many of you concerning how these changes may impact your individual departmental situations.  While I continue to convey these concerns during my own interactions, the remainder of this month represents your time to officially give feedback to the group reports (there is an email link on the same page the group reports are located).  It is vital that the groups hear your thoughts in order for this process to be as encompassing as possible.
We also want to point out that Dr. Rai has met with both me and the AAUP executive committee.  We have been very impressed with his willingness to listen to our concerns and to help build a mutually respectful relationship.  This kind of communication will help us move forward in a productive manner and, we believe, will help protect and strengthen our institution.
2.  Contract Violations – As reported in our last update, we were awaiting the official response from the college concerning potential contract violations in distance learning.  These violations centered around the creation and use of DL courses that were not specifically addressed in the DL side letter (i.e. MOOCs).  As we are all aware, technology in education is expanding rapidly and some of the new learning instruments have yet to be addressed in the contract.  Some of the more obvious concerns surrounding these alternative types of courses are issues of credit disbursement, faculty ESH options, curriculum/departmental oversight, class size, etc. Thus far, these courses have been under the direction of the office of Distance Education Learning Technologies (DELT).  The ESH awarded for creating and teaching massive online courses has been provided by DELT. Because of this, and the nature of these types of courses, we assert that these courses are considered distance courses. The consulting attorney for the college disagreed with this assessment.  Their official response is as follows:
“the College’s position is that the creation and presentation of the MOOC was not something contemplated or addressed in the Distance Learning Side Letter, but was something within the scope of Section 5.3(B) of the Agreement”
Section 5.3(B) of our contract reads:
Where, under this agreement, faculty members perform activities assigned by Management, not otherwise set forth in this Article, which Management determines are to be measured in terms of equivalent semester hours for purposes of Section 5.1 (A) of this Article, one (1) equivalent semester hour shall be equal to fifty (50) clock hours of such assigned activities, except that one (1) equivalent semester hour shall be equal to forty (40) clock hours of such assigned activities when defined and budgeted by Management as Advising Cadre, Instructional Improvement, Curriculum Development, Program Development, Scholarly Effort, or Special Projects equivalent semester hours. Not more than six (6) equivalent semester hours per semester attributable to coaching activities shall be recognized for the purpose of fulfilling the thirty (30) equivalent semester hour standard minimum workload specified in Section 5.1 (A) of this Article.
We found the use of 5.3(B) extremely odd because it essentially states that MOOC-type classes are not considered distance learning classes even though they follow and look similar to what most of us would consider a distance learning course, and they are under the direction of our distance learning department/personnel.  It seems impossible to argue that a course taught online and paid for by distance learning could not be considered a DL course.
The AAUP would like to stress that we realize the potential these new types of courses have, and we also recognize that these courses could be greatly beneficial for our students, faculty, and college as a whole.  However, we do want to ensure that the details of these courses are clearly outlined in our contract to help protect our members.
On behalf of the AAUP executive committee,

Dan Wilson, Associate Professor
President – AAUP
Chair – Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice
Suite 224 (Room 234) Humanities Building
Montgomery College – Rockville, MD
240-567-7486 (Office)

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