Bimodal backlash: U of O students and staff are not fans of the teaching format


A coalition of unions representing students and staff at the University of Ottawa criticizes the intended use of the “bimodal format” of teaching where professors teach a course in person, while simultaneously teaching the same course virtually.

The University of Ottawa Inter-Union Coalition says it is aware of 444 courses that are expected to be taught in this format in the fall term, as well as 535 in the winter term in the 2021-2022 academic year.

The coalition said bimodal education – which involves a professor teaching a group of 500 students in person at the same time, as well as a group of virtual students – could place undue demands on professors and reduce the quality of teaching. education received by virtual students. .

“The bimodal format is widely regarded as a form of experiential learning and is more commonly used in smaller classrooms and with a number of classroom teaching assistants to ensure that students attending remotely receive the same quality of teaching. ‘teaching that those who attend in person, “the group said in a press release on Monday.

Back to school (virtual)

The complaint comes as post-secondary institutions across Ontario take varying approaches for the fall semester.

Some universities like Queen’s in Kingston and Western in London are gearing up for a full return to in-person learning, while the University of Ottawa and Carleton University are planning a mix of online and in-person learning.

The Ontario government, meanwhile, is pushing for an unlimited fall semester for classes and in-person activities.

Luc Angers, whose union represents more than 2,000 part-time professors at the University of Ottawa, said bimodal education forces professors to take two different approaches to teaching their subject, which can be even more difficult for arts and science courses.

“Of course, we are able to predict students who are going to be in the classroom,” Angers said. “But for those who are going to be online, well, that’s a different kind of presentation that we have to come up with. It puts our members in a very, very special and difficult situation.”

It puts our members in a very, very special and difficult situation.– Luc Angers, Association of part-time professors of the University of Ottawa.

Angers said the university provides minimal training for part-time faculty, despite the fact that some will now need to master the technical aspects of virtual education in addition to expanding their classroom programs.

“We feel [the training is] very, very minimal for the tasks we have to do, ”Angers said.

Students want full feedback, says student representative

Armaan Singh Kheppar of the University of Ottawa Students Union said that students have reported negative effects on the quality of their education and mental health due to virtual learning, and they want a full return to in-person classes.

“In bimodal learning, students might not be able to fully engage with their teachers and peers,” Kheppar said. “Online learning has also been shown to foster this disconnect between instructor and student. “

The coalition of unions wants the university to organize smaller classes and offer more support to professors, teaching assistants and support staff who are supposed to teach in the bimodal format.

“The [coalition] and its members look forward to a full return to campus once the COVID-19 pandemic is over, and fear that the increase in bimodal courses offered in the winter 2022 term means this poor learning format is here to stay. The group said.

Kheppar said he wanted more sections of in-person classes to be opened so that more students could return to campus.

CBC News contacted the university with a list of questions, but did not receive a response until the publication date.


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