Academic senate holds emergency meeting

By Melvin Bui

Changes in student learning outcomes were discussed in an emergency academic senate meeting on March 20. The meetings are usually open to the public, however there was limited dissemination of the Zoom link in order to make the process of recording the attendance and votes of instructors less complicated. There must be a minimum of 21 senate members present in a meeting in order to vote upon new academic propositions, at this online meeting there were about 20 to 30 members present. 

There was a unanimous motion to request response to promised pathways concerns from administration and request student survey data. There was a second motion to waive learning assessments on review of student learning outcomes (SLO) addenda for revised course outline and requisite changes. There will be no more SLO addenda, as the college transitions to eLumen. Elumen is a curriculum and assessment management system that provides insight on a student’s engagement and progress.

Zoom Video Communication software allows instructors and students to hold conferences online via webcam, it is accessible from all devices with a front camera. Zoom was a new concept to some instructors, so the beginning of the meeting was spent trying to configure the software. Instructors unanimously decided to keep the same schedule for future academic senate meetings. For the remainder of the semester the bi-monthly meetings will be held via Zoom instead of meeting in-person. 

There are many instructors with little-to-no experience with Canvas, so the transition to an online course will have its challenges for both instructors and students. “Students who have children out of school or have to care for sick family members, it will be difficult to juggle that with their classwork. Students with disabilities could be disproportionately affected and that’s not even counting the students who will get sick, some of them requiring hospitalization,” Professor Cory Youngblood said. There are many external factors that can be detrimental to students’ academic progress during these trying times.  

Promised Pathways problems were addressed by the newly proposed program, Guided Pathways. Promised Pathways scheduling impedes on a students ability from completing degrees in a timely manner. Students are not required to follow the Promised Pathways, however some students are motivated to do so because it works closely with some student service programs. Guided Pathways plans to solve problems on a broad scale and with more predictability in their schedule unlike Promised Pathways.

Some departments are going to start surveying students in order to find out their scheduling needs, so that they can make a schedule that compliments students. The 5-week course schedule isn’t practical for all students, some work and need more time to do things. Instructors have opted for an 8-week course schedule but have been ignored by administration due to the lack of time. This leaves instructors in a tight spot adjusting their curriculum. 

Making classes online for career and technical education (CTE) courses does not translate well because they require physical interaction in order to learn and practice the material. Lecture classes have been more flexible in making the transition from in-person to online classes, without information being lost in the process.  

The instructors spoke about graduation by-laws, however it was unsure if a graduation will take place due to the pandemic. “We’ll know when we know, if we will even have a graduation,” academic senate president Jeffrey Hernandez said. 

The possible switch to a more binary approach of grading like credit or no-credit, pass or fail was discussed to help ease tension from the pandemic for instructors and students. However, a board ruling would have to happen at a district level in order for it to be enacted. It would take an immense amount of time and resources to switch sections and students to accommodate the binary grading. 

Instructors whose classes were cancelled will be paid at the end of the semester and those who have part-time teaching positions in the summer should be open to new opportunities elsewhere due to COVID-19. Administration is pulling back on summer classes in order to help cut down the potential spread of COVID-19. The scheduling for summer 2020 classes have been put on pause until the foreseeable future. 

“The reality is, everybody is focused on COVID-19. So, the fall schedule is not going to be out for some time, so as it turns out there is a little bit more time then there would have been otherwise,” Jeffrey Hernandez said. There has been a delay in the decision making process for all classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This leaves much still to be undetermined as time goes on.  

Librarians are providing services to faculty and students online during these trying times. The library is closed until March 29, however questions can be answered on the side-bar of the library home page or by an email to library@elac.edu

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