Copyright & Publisher’s Slides

Are you using publisher slide decks in your courses? Are you posting them on Nexus?  Have you ever checked the permission rights to do so?  You may be surprised to know that many publishers do NOT give permission for publisher created slide decks to be posted to a learning management system such as Nexus.

The recent federal court case against York University has highlighted the need for faculty, instructors, and university departments to actively engage in following copyright laws. This includes following the rules when using publisher supplied slides.

The best practice for those using these items is: DO NOT POST TO NEXUS.  Unless you know the explicit permissions of for the textbook you are referring to you run the risk of being in violation of the copyright laws.  Even when using a text book from previous course offerings, where the permission was granted, it may not be valid in a course offering for which you are no longer using that text book.

Additionally, the views of publishers around modifying or adding to the slides varies, causing another area where issues arise.

An audit of the materials posted on Nexus will be coming up shortly and there will be further communication on that topic. Going forward, instructors should ensure that you have reviewed the copyright permissions specific to the publisher and course before you post them to Nexus or reproduce them in paper.

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Copyright and Instagram

The recent communication about changes in the copyright rules came to mind when I saw this article on reposting / using Instagram images:
https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/reshare-instagram-posts-legally/?lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_feed%3BPhzO%2FgVmRuuxJzaN6%2BRJmg%3D%3D

If you use Instagram, it would be worth checking out the rules around using other people’s materials from there.

Be sure as well to check out the university’s message on copyright posted to Nexus.

 

 

Grades

From time to time, instructors ask the question does every student have to pass? At the core of answering this question is understanding PACE’s view on grades and the connection to our mission, and the relationship of PACE with the University.

PACE’s mission is to provide educational opportunities to our students that relate to the work place. Knowledge and skills learned in our classrooms are intended for use in the workplace.  By providing students with certificates and diplomas with the University’s logo, instructors are confirming to current and potential employers that students have achieved a standard within the courses and programs needed to meet the standards of the University’s Senate.

Employers are looking at those credentials as confirmation that a person has the ability to do certain jobs within the work place. Grades provide an indication to PACE that the student has those skills for granting credentials.  Students are looking at those grades as confirmation that they can represent their skills and knowledge to employers as being at an acceptable level.

Grades should be viewed then as a gauge that students can use in judging their skills and knowledge. Are they proficient at different skills to different levels? Is their knowledge of a subject adequate to meet the demands of a particular task or job function?  Are there areas for improvement?  Are there areas that are outstanding?

If you think of a sports team, whether hockey, football, volley ball or soccer, not every player will perform all the skills needed for that sport to the same level. Some players will be better at passing than others; some players may be better at catching a football, while others may excel at blocking.

If you praise a player for their catching ability when they can’t hold onto the ball, they will have false expectations of their abilities as they try out for positions. If they are selected on the basis of that praise, their new team will not be appreciative if the player can’t catch the ball.

Grades are similar. Giving unjustifiably high marks builds false expectations in students, and creates false expectations in employers.  Giving unjustifiably low grades can cause students to have low opinions of themselves, and cause employers to pass them over.

Clustering students into the top end of a grading scheme, or giving everyone a pass for a course, can also cause resentment between students. Students who have put large amounts of time and effort into producing quality work for a course may feel short changed by seeing peers who do little work receiving similar grades.

An established grading scheme for every method of evaluation on a course is critical to ensure that students are scored according to their knowledge and skills. Employers can then have confidence that students are presenting themselves with credible skills, which builds long term credibility for PACE courses.

In setting grades and designing rubrics, it is also important to keep in mind the expectations of the University itself around PACE courses. Many of our courses are articulated with courses in degree programs.  This means that taking the PACE course is considered the equivalent of a degree course, sometimes at the second or third year level.  Assessments and grades in these courses should be reflective of that recognition.

In short, no, not every student needs to pass a course. Nor does every student need to get an A+.  Grades should be reflective of the demonstrated knowledge and skills a student has shown to meet the method of evaluation for the course.

 

 

A message on Copyright

Be sure to log into Nexus and check out the University’s message on copyright posted to the announcements page of the Instructor Communication Portal.

With the Supreme Court’s decision on copyright and York University this summer there have been changes to how copyright is assessed.  All PACE instructors should be familiar with the rules and ensure that they are following them in their course offerings.

The fall brings lots of changes everywhere, not the least at PACE. We have had four new program groups start: Human Resources, Network Security, Public Relations, and Project Management.  At the same time, we introduced some changes on the administrative side, and on the teaching side.

If you’ve been away from the university for the last week, remember that the wireless password has changed. Before you come down, log into Nexus or Webadvisor to get the new password.  If you get down here and forgot, the students will tell you or stop by the office.

We have also made some changes on the administrative side. First class registers are no longer required for PACE courses.  For the full time programs starting in the fall of 2017 and going forward, attendance tracking is now done on Nexus.  It is found under the Assessments tab inside the program folder; instructions were sent out through the program managers and also posted to the Nexus Instructor Communication Portal.

For the students, changes were made for the fall programs with the introduction of an orientation program. Five days long, these presentations were built around the theme of giving students skills to survive and do better in their studies.  Each group received an orientation to the university, including the library, a study skills workshop, an exposure to cultural differences and issues, and a Total SDI introduction covering their motivational background and conflict approaches.

As instructors come into contact with the fall groups, it would be worthwhile to look back at the skills in their toolbox and build on them. The Total SDI piece connects with anyone who has a conflict topic in their course, group work, or oral communication piece.  While the concept is bigger than can be covered off here, one stand out piece is the idea that communication has to be tailored to the recipient’s motivators and approaches in order to be heard.  A point that will come up time and again as our students begin to work in groups!

As we move into fall, we will be again having professional development sessions for instructors. Be sure to pass along any ideas you may have, or reach out to myself or the program manager with any concerns.

Adminstrative Changes at PACE

PACE has introduced two administrative changes, one impacting all courses and one impacting full time courses.

For full time courses, beginning with this Fall’s programs, attendance will be tracked on Nexus. This change is for full time courses only.

It will allow students the benefit to see their attendance live, without needing any assistance, and will allow instructors to see, live, how a student is doing around meeting class commitments as well.

Instructions on how to do attendance  in Nexus are in the Nexus Instructor Communication Portal, under Content – Full Time Programs.

The other change applies to all PACE courses: first class registers are no longer required. Effectively August 25, first class registers are no longer required.

 

Changes to Nexus

Our online learning management system, Nexus, took on a new look today.  Your log in credentials remain the same.

The visual presentation will strike you as different as soon as you log in; the system has a new colour scheme and different feel.  While all of the functionality remains the same, some portions have moved and a few renamed.

For example:

-course list now uses picture icons instead of hypertext links

-the course drop down list has moved location

-Dropboxes have been renamed to Assignments

Be sure to check it out!

Course Evaluations

Course evaluations are a part of every PACE class. They can be both a valuable insight for instructors, and a source of stress.  Knowing how to look at them takes some forethought and practice.

All instructors are asked to provide time in the last class for students to complete evaluations. In the full time programs, evaluations are completed online.  Students have a link from Nexus to the evaluation page which they can complete for each course in the program.  In part time classes, students complete the evaluations in hardcopy; best practice for these paper forms is to designate one student to collect then and return them to the PACE Registration office or drop box.

To encourage completion, it is best practice not to do them as the last item of the day or before lunch; students tend to just get up and leave. A better practice is to ask students to complete them right after coming back from a break or at the start of class to encourage better completion rates.  It’s also a good idea to remind students that the evaluations are anonymous and shared with instructors only after grades are turned in.

When you go to review course evaluations, it’s is best to ensure that you are in the right frame of mind. If you are unhappy, you are going to fixate on the negative comments, which is unfair to you and your next group of students.  (A tip I picked up listening to the podcast Teaching in Higher Ed, episode 165: http://teachinginhighered.com/podcast/teaching-lessons-course-evaluations/)

As you review the evaluations, keep in mind the population you are teaching. Some students are going to love you no matter what, some students will hate you no matter what; throw out the top comment and the bottom comment.  You are teaching to the students in the middle, pay attention to what they have to say.

Looking at those comments from the middle, remember why you reading these: to learn and improve yourself. Look at comments that provide some insight beyond just “this was good” or “I liked it”.  In some cases, you may need to remind yourself about why certain points are in the materials.  I have seen comments where students question the material being taught; I always revisit why it is present and confirm that the material is valid.  Students are not necessarily in the best place to judge why material is included, but they can certainly provide insight into how material is being received.

Take the feedback to heart, identify something that you will do differently next time and make notes right away so you don’t forget. No one is perfect, so taking the time to look at small ways to improve our content and our delivery is always a good idea.   With a little bit of practice on how to read them, feedback can be an invaluable part of growing as an instructor.

Copyright and Teaching

A July 12, 2017 federal court decision found that York University had violated Canadian copyright law.  While the specifics do not exactly match up with PACE, the case does highlight the need for university administrators and instructors to be cognizant of copyright rules and ensure that they are followed.

The University of Winnipeg revised the copyright policy in 2016, and the revised policy and procedures are published on the internet:

http://copyright.uwinnipeg.ca/basics/copyright-policy.html

PACE instructors should take a moment to review them and ensure that the material they are presenting follows the rules.

Since taking on this position, I’ve discovered that the rules are not always as straight forward as they seem.  Instructors, like students, need to ensure that credit is given for sources used, that the use fits within the fair dealing provisions of the law, and that the material is shared appropriately.  If any questions arise, get in touch with me, your program manager, of the University’s Copyright Office directly to get some advice.

As the York University case highlighted, a university policy provides some guidelines, but the specifics of the material, how the material is shared, with whom and how many people it is shared, all play a role in deciding if the use complies with the law.

If you want to review the federal court decision, you can access it here:

http://decisions.fct-cf.gc.ca/fc-cf/decisions/en/item/232727/index.do?r=AAAAAQAEeW9yawE#_Summary_of_Conclusions