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Canvas Conversion Compensation? FA Seeking Equity for Significant Additional Work

This year at the CCCI conference (California Community College Independents), attending FA members learned that many unions are successfully negotiating compensation for faculty to make the transition from existing online platforms like Blackboard to Canvas. For those who may not have heard, MiraCosta is among the many colleges who have adopted Canvas as a replacement for both Blackboard and Moodle. MiraCosta and others have done so because (a) Canvas is a good system and (b) Canvas is free to colleges that make it their sole platform.

While Canvas is free to the district, there is very real work involved for faculty.

Many of us have invested a tremendous amount of time into designing a learning environment in BB or Moodle, as well as developing and importing supporting materials. Transitioning these pedagogical elements into Canvas will be a very time consuming enterprise. In fact, it’s safe to say that it will require hundreds of hours for some faculty who are making heavy use of BB or Moodle to replicate that work in Canvas, and that time merits compensation.


Timeline and Negotiations

The district has established a 3-semester transition period with Canvas, Moodle, and BB that begins in the Spring of 2017. Meanwhile, we have been asking district to agree to an MOU that would provide faculty with both staff support and compensation in order to make this transition smooth and equitable. The annual cost savings the district will receive provides an obvious source of funding to pay for staff, training, and compensation.

In fact, we’ve been asking for this since early last spring, and raising this issue at every meeting with the district (2-3 per month) since January. Over the summer the district agreed to provide compensation for a transition team of 5 faculty who are both learning about this transition and establishing plans to train other faculty. Their compensation is for the summer and fall only, so we’ll need to continue that agreement and establish an equitable method for compensating other faculty impacted by the transition.

Towards that end, this past week the district agreed to work with the FA in establishing a work group committee comprised of 3 faculty and 3 administrators to define the work involved with this process and propose a method for a smooth transition to Canvas. That work is likely to begin soon, and ideally will be completed before the end of November. The problem is that the work has started far later than we have requested, and so it will be difficult to arrive at an agreement in time for any faculty to prepare for a spring transition to Canvas.

If there is no compensation agreement in place by the end of the semester, it’s likely that the FA will take the position that faculty should not participate in the Canvas transition until such time that an agreement is in place.

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