Faculty Governance Update, September 2016

By Neal Phillips, President, Collegewide Faculty Association President

Hey there fellow faculty members! I know y’all get the thematic and daily emails from me, but if you prefer to delete them, the Faculty Insight might suit you as a one-stop soapbox shop.

Let’s get started …

Digital Professor Certification
You may have heard through one channel or another that the Digital Professor Certification is changing and evolving. If you are pursuing Digital Professor Certification, don’t stop it will make it that much easier to get you initially certified at the tier one, two or three level of online instructional competency.

That said, this is something coming along, yes, but it isn’t happening right away. That’s because …

Blackboard vs. Canvasneal-phillips-270w
… As a college, we’re going to take another look at using Canvas as our Learning Management System (LMS). Before my time in office, a few years back, a diverse and very experienced committee of faculty members took a look at Canvas, but it was cost prohibitive, among other things, at the time.

With Blackboard starting to age in its present state and with some changes to Canvas, the former committee of faculty has been asked to reconvene to take a look at Canvas to see if it has improved. The hope in some corners is that it has improved, as the University of Central Florida is already using Canvas, and it looks like a strong possibility that Orange County Public Schools will be adopting the Canvas LMS as well. That said, it makes a lot of sense to streamline things for students. However, our faculty committee will assess both Blackboard and Canvas thoroughly before a decision to change or not change the LMS is made.faculty-insight-news-id

Stay tuned for more updates coming soon.

Online Classroom Observation Tool
For those of you avidly invested in teaching online, some good news is on the way. With online learning still very much a new frontier, it’s been arguably difficult to assess what is or is not an effective online course. To try and make that science more exact, a research group will convene during the spring 2017 semester to look at online assessment tools and possibly make recommendations for a tool Valencia can implement. I will share more information on that and how to get involved in the coming months.

Student Feedback on Instruction
As Faculty Association President, I have the privilege of being invited to and attending the Instructional Affairs Committee (IAC) meetings — basically a meeting of nearly all deans at Valencia.

At the most recent meeting, one of the topics that briefly surfaced concerned the Student Feedback on Instruction (SFI) that is issued for each instructor at one point each semester. Speaking anecdotally here, when deans in the room were asked what they felt was most important about the SFI, they said, in no particular order:

  • Written comments from students
  • Scores on the notion of mutual respect and communication
  • To what degree students felt that instructors made them think critically

I found this information enlightening, as I may not have understood how important the comments were compared to other aspects of the SFI. As a result, I encourage you at your next division meeting to ask your deans what they value most on the Student Feedback on Instruction form. Having this information can only increase the level of understanding of expectations between you, your department and your dean.

Textbook Costs
Ah, this is the hot topic, eh? Rightly so in a lot of cases.

As an ideal, the goal at Valencia should be to make sure every student has the necessary text as early as the first day of class; as faculty, we know there’s a lot of work to do to reach that ideal.

At the forefront of the analysis of textbook costs is the idea of trusting the faculty member’s choice of text versus the affordability of that text. Do you know that there is a lot of work to be done on this, and it will continue whether the state legislature continues to focus on the topic or not?

Leaders from around the College have been meeting on the Faculty Council-sponsored textbook committee, and that group will continue to investigate the best ways to get texts into student hands without sacrificing good pedagogy and while heeding exorbitant costs.

Stay tuned for more updates as this topic warrants more scrutiny.

Benefits Tours
Organizational Development and Human Resources will hold Benefits Tours, Tuesday, October 4 – Thursday, October 13, 2016, and Open Enrollment Monday, October 17 – Friday, October 28, 2016. Please plan to attend a Benefits Tour to help you get the information you need to help you choose your 2017 benefits.

That’s all for now. Look for an update in the near future on the roll-out of the faculty professional development incentive plan that will include high-impact practices and, potentially, the highest monetary payout award to date. Also, there will be forthcoming news about how to seek employment (eventually) at the new Downtown Campus, and future Faculty Insight columns will highlight ways you can participate in planned giving and leave a legacy to Valencia.

Thank you for your time, and keep up the transformative work.

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