COMMS and COMMS training

OPSEU Local 415

OPSEU Local 415 is the democratically-run body that represents Algonquin College full-time and partial-load faculty (professors and instructors), cousellors, and librarians.

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By Doug Brandy

COMMS, the Course Outline Mapping and Management System has arrived. What are our expectations and responsibilities?

I believe creating course outlines is a legitimate Professor function. From the Class Definition on page 147 of our Collective Agreement:

“… a Professor is responsible for . . .

The design/revision/updating of courses, including:

  • consulting with program and course directors and other faculty members, advisory committees, accrediting agencies, potential employers and students;
  • defining course objectives and evaluating and validating these objectives;
  • specifying or approving learning approaches, necessary resources, etc.;
  • developing individualized instruction and multi-media presentations where applicable;
  • selecting or approving textbooks and learning materials.”

We have been obliged for several semesters to post our course outlines on Blackboard. As I understand it, COMMS provides a different method for performing that function.

If it takes place in a non-teaching period, COMMS training is voluntary. If you wish to agree to take the training during a non-teaching period that’s your choice since you define how you spend that time. Article 11.08 reads, in part:  “In keeping with the professional responsibility of the teacher, non-teaching periods are used for activities initiated by the teacher and by the College as part of the parties’ mutual commitment to professionalism, the quality of education and professional development.”

If the College wants to make COMMS training mandatory, it must be SWFed. Since there can be no SWF in a non-teaching period, it would have to have been SWFed in the preceding semester. If it is not and never has been SWFed, it’s not an assignment and your involvement is voluntary.

If you have had training assigned or if you believe any functions associated with course outlines are support staff work you may complain to your immediate supervisor. If your complaint is not resolved you have recourse to the workload resolution process. Contact the Workload Monitoring Group at 7716.

That process could also apply if you’re not satisfied with the complementary hours attributed for course outline training, writing or revising.

For more info on COMMS, see

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