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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

The camera debate continues

Students may be required to turn on their cameras during online courses for certain classes in the spring semester.

The Pierce Curriculum Committee is exploring options for instructors who need audio and visual participation to be able to have access to it.

Members of the Academic Senate shared their opinions on the Curriculum Committee’s options during the Academic Senate meeting on Nov. 23.

Senate member Brian Moe talked about the importance of making sure students are aware when signing up for classes if they will be required to have visual participation.

“We need to be clearer in our syllabi and outcomes so that we are not lying to them,” Moe said. “Canvas shells should be available weeks in advance of the start of courses so that students have time to choose whether they want to stay in the class or look for an alternative class that better fits their needs.”

Distance Education Coordinator Wendy Bass mentioned that her department is working toward making it easier for students to tell if classes will require cameras when registering

“We requested that the district add a camera icon to the SIS next to course descriptions to show at some capacity a camera will be needed for the course,” Bass said.

Having cameras turned on during classes prompted a conversation among faculty.

“In terms of academic freedom, I would be unable to teach any of my classes without a camera,” Instructor of Psychology Jennifer Moses said. “I wouldn’t be able to do my job.” 

Assistant Spanish professor Margarita Pillado is concerned if there is a new rule for camera enforcement.

“I just want instructors to think about what it means and what it forces instructors to do,” Pillado said. “When the discipline says cameras are needed for interaction in the classroom, to allow the student not to comply with that is to say that it is subjective.”

During the meeting, ASO President Jamie Crespin also thanked everyone for a successful virtual Town Hall for Seeking Success in Distance Education.

“The Town Hall went really well,” Crespin said. “It was very important and informative. I saw teachers and students taking notes, trying to really figure everything out and taking everything in. Professors and students alike were trying to find new ways to better themselves.”

Computer Science professor David Schamus announced he will be retiring at the end of this semester. 

“I’m over this technology stuff,” Schamus joked. 

The Academic Senate will be meeting for the final time this semester on Dec. 7.

Aurora Rivas, Isabel Ravenna and Zoe Ramirez contributed to the report.

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