These are problems of system managers who mandate system-wide policies without the input of faculty and staff, and then refuse to take responsibility for the problems that ensue. The problems with iTeach insightfully reveal problematic aspects of CSCU and CSCC management.
For more than a year, the 4Cs and AFT have been trying to work with System Office to solve the problems related to the mandatory iTeach trainings. It is important to note there are some people who found this training helpful and useful, but the vast majority have reported serious problems and widely varying degrees of quality.
Respondents to an iTeach survey the 4Cs administered several weeks ago revealed unequal and limited applicability and benefit for faculty who completed the training. Common sentiments included:
- “It’s a great program for people with little or no experience using Blackboard.”
- “This was a waste of my time. We were forced to go through weeks of training …on topics that were for the most part common sense for veteran teachers.”
- “It is informative, but I find it very hard to believe that instructors who have already completed it, would lose all this knowledge in a mere two years following completion.”
- “This course was time consuming and not very well put together or facilitated. A lot of work with minimal feedback. I do not feel the facilitators conducted this online course as they were directing us to.”
There are three common complaints with how CT Community College is managing this newly instituted program.
- First, all faculty (full and part time) are required to take this training regardless of previous experience, education, or training and even if you do not teach using technology.
- Second, previous training expired in just two years even for those who continuously employed technology in their teaching.
- Third, the quality and applicability were inconsistent.
These problems are the result of no one having responsibility for wholesale policies and mandates that are adopted without input. Importantly, these inconsistencies would have been addressed, if CSCC invested in shared governance, but it does not.
Refusal of BOR to Compensate Faculty for iTeach Mandate
The most egregious aspect of the iTeach mandate is the refusal from both CSCU and CSCC managers to compensate faculty for completing a training that CSCC managers estimate takes 35 hours to complete. For full time faculty, the designation of AR is unevenly applied at the colleges with some Deans refusing to release faculty from existing AR. Post 2017-hires who teach five courses and do not have AR are put in a position of having to do this work without compensation. Similarly, adjunct faculty have no mechanism to be compensated and are forced to take a 35-hour training. Notably, many of our part time faculty paid out of pocket for this training already, but the short expiry date mandates they take it again. These are egregiously wrong and an insult to our members professionalism and demonstrates disrespect for our time.
AFT and the 4Cs have tried to work with CSCU and CSCC managers on iTeach mandate since Summer 2020. We fought to ensure faculty can use other means to demonstrate proficiency for online teaching, as well as ensure all faculty are compensated for completing the iTeach training. We have an active Labor Board complaint that the Board of Regents is fighting us on. We were close to coming to an agreement whereby all faculty who completed iTeach would either use AR or be compensated. This agreement broke down, however, because CSCU managers refused to pay for the training, and insisted the payment come from a joint union/management fund.
It is time CSCU President Terrance Cheng and CSCC Provost Mike Rooke take responsibility for the problems their administration has caused by implementing an iTeach policy that was reactionary. We insist President Cheng and Provost Rooke recognize previous trainings and compensate those faculty who have completed the iTeach training. We demand all PT faculty and faculty without AR who complete iTeach be compensated $1,400 (prevailing wage) for completing the training. Faculty with AR can elect to use AR to complete iTeach.