Here’s the good news: After much discussion at Senate and behind-the-scenes lobbying, the Registrar’s Office is now scheduling synchronous meet times for fall 2020, as they normally would.
Synchronous = students and instructor interact online in real time.
Asynchronous = weekly tasks and deadlines exist but there is no set class time.
The bad news is that at least one Faculty (maybe more) has opted not to use the Registrar’s Office (RO) to schedule synchronous activities, without appropriately engaging collegial bodies such as faculty council. FAUW believes this needs to change.
Why not scheduling synchronous activities centrally is a problem
- It’s bad for students. When scheduling synchronous activities is left to individual instructors (as in at least one Faculty), it’s very easy to create conflicts for students. That’s one big reason we have centralized scheduling in the first place. In an already confusing, difficult time, it is also unfair to expect students who are enrolled in more than one Faculty to navigate different scheduling processes. Further, instructors surveying students about their availability may inadvertently violate student privacy and confidentiality in a way that the RO won’t because the RO has existing systems in place to optimize scheduling without compromising student privacy.
- It’s more work for instructors. Instructors are already working as hard as they can so let’s not ask them to do scheduling work that others normally do on their behalf (and are still employed to do).
- It violates academic freedom. We are concerned that withholding central supports from instructors with the aim of constraining their pedagogical choices sets a worrisome precedent and risks violating instructors’ academic freedom to teach as they judge fit using the resources that are available.
- It undermines collegial governance. Academic decisions of this type need to be made collegially through bodies established for such deliberation and decision-making. This circumvention of collegial governance is even more concerning given the substantial debate that colleagues had about this matter at Senate—the University’s highest collegial body and indeed the body charged in the University of Waterloo Act with making academic decisions.