In previous posts, I highlighted part A and part B of the information from St. Petersburg College about their expectations of and for online students. Today I'll take a look at their part C - Academic Civility and Freedom of Expression.
This is what St. Pete has to say about this:
Expectations: Students may expect that:
- They will be able to pursue their studies in a stimulating, open environment where the pursuit of truth, free expression of ideas, responsible criticism, and reasonable dissent are recognized as basic to the educational process.
- Students have the right to exercise their academic freedom within the responsible confines of the course material.
- A process exists for students to express and document concerns they may have about specific action, inaction or behavior by any member of the College faculty or staff.
Responsibilities: Students have the responsibility to:
- Act in accordance with standards of reasonable behavior, respect and civility. This standard would prohibit behavior that is disruptive or interferes with the teaching/learning process, including:
- the posting of inappropriate materials in chat rooms, emails, bulletin boards, or Web pages;
- use of obscenities;
- personal attacks on fellow students or faculty;
- sexual harassment; or
- comments that are demeaning or disrespectful to another's ideas and opinions.
With regard to e-Learning, I have been waiting for quite some time for a battle to ensue regarding the intersection of academic freedom and access to technology. Several years ago I heard a negotiator for the state (employer) side of the negotiated contract language (union contract) state unequivocally that the choice of using or not using the state-supported IMS (D2L in our case, but no matter) is NOT a question of academic freedom. In other words, faculty cannot (according to him, at least) just claim academic freedom as the reason why they are choosing NOT to use the state/school-supported IMS, and instead choose to use a different IMS. Because of the licensing, support costs, and several other tech-related factors, and because the IMS is simply the vessel through which they teach, the question of academic freedom does NOT apply in this situation. Part of his rationale was that there is nothing "academic" about the choice of whether you use the supported IMS or not.
I think this is a fascinating argument. I also don't pretend to know the answer. IANAL, but I sure like to pretend as if I am from time to time. I would love to hear your opinions about this question. Please submit a comment (I moderate them due to high levels of spam, but try to approve them quickly) and share your thoughts.