* SCFA’s ongoing discussion concerning UCSC’s contract with Coursera

Since the SCFA became aware that the University signed a contract with Coursera without including them in the discussion, we have had several meetings and exchanges with Labor Relations and EVC Allison Galloway. The Online Education Committee of the SCFA will meet on July 19, 2013 to discuss how they plan to respond to the University, and how to address the issue of Online Education.

We have provided the following links to keep you informed.

February 22, 2013 – SCFA learns that the contract has been signed. A letter was sent to the membership  asking members to join the conversation.

The SCFA immediately made a Request for Information to the University to obtain a status report and scope of any negotiations currently underway between the University and Coursera or any other commericial online course providers.  We were informed that the University had concluded negotiations with Coursera.  We followed up with a request for a copy of the contracts.

February 25, 2013 – We received the fully executed contract between the University and Coursera. 2013-02-25 SCFA RFI Coursera – Signed Contract.

February 27, 2013 – SCFA Online Education Committee meets with Renée Mayne. UCSC Employee & Labor Relations Manager

March 5, 2013 –  SCFA submits  RFI to Labor Relations :   SCFA Online Ed RFI 3-5-13.docx   Excerpts include:

“This issue touches on many curricular and academic issues including faculty ownership rights to their lectures. In 2000, CUCFA successfully lobbied for legislation establishing that individual professors, and not the University, own the intellectual property in their live performances and course materials.”

“We consider this letter to place the campus on notice that some of the issues arising out of its contract with Coursera may be collectively bargainable and that it should cease implementation of those aspects of that contract until the issue have collective bargaining has been addressed in future meetings between us.” Read more:

March 14, 2013 – we received a response from the University to our RFI of March 5 – 2013-03-14 University Response to SCFA re Online Courses in which we are informed that:

“Currently, any online platform that SCFA members can avail themselves of is strictly voluntary and within his or her own right to license their work. Any agreements signed by SCFA members do not have monetary offers to the faculty member or future promises of money. There is no requirement that a SCFA member participate in these new options for teaching. Therefore, unless the SCFA can identify a mandatory subject of bargaining under the Coursera, Apple iTunes, and/or Instructure (for UCOE) terms that SCFA members can work under, the university will continue to offer to SCFA members their right to request to develop courses under these new teaching options.”

March 27, 2013 – The SCFA responds to the University: SCFA Response to LR 3-27-13 in which we state that:

“The parties to this licensing agreement are the campus and members of our bargaining unit. (This contract is not between the individual and Coursera, nor is it between the individual and the UC system.) ·

The subject matter of the license consists of the online publication of courses that have been offered (or are certified as equivalent to courses that could be offered) by Senate faculty as part of their ordinary instructional duties on this campus. (Coursera wants courses that are to be branded as UCSC courses and not, for example, a series of instructional videos on a topic of faculty expertise.)

Having seen the Coursera website we now know that at least one of these courses has been regularly co-taught at UCSC by at least one non-emeritus faculty member for full academic credit. This raises the question of whether a certificate of completion for the Coursera version of the course could be submitted as part of a petition for credit in the onsite version which UCSC will have warranted to be equivalent, and whether, at some future date, UCSC would be able to offer this course online for full academic credit without having to hire a professor to teach it.

Subsequently, we now have a third reason for believing that collective bargaining may be required before the campus can offer a licensing agreement to Senate faculty members in accordance with the Coursera contract.

Mandatory collective bargaining typically bars represented employees from signing individual contracts with their employer to automate the tasks that they are normally hired to perform.”

On April 11, 2013, Campus Provost/Executive Vice Chancellor Alison Galloway said in a labor management meeting with Joel Primack of the SCFA Board and Bob Meister, President of the Council of UC Faculty Associations and member of the SCFA, that she would not permit the development of any more Coursera courses (beyond the three courses of which you are already aware) until UCSC and the SCFA are able to work through the concerns of both the campus and the union. VC Galloway said she would allow for talks either in a continued labor management setting or at the bargaining table. On April 29 we received  the official response from the University following this meeting Online Ed 2013-03-11 SCFA We see the following excerpt to be a key part of this letter:

“I am persuaded that you have identified potential effects of the required online course licensing arrangement that are subject to the University’s bargaining obligations under the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act (HEERA), for example, incentives to develop online courses, potential mandatory requirement for faculty to publish on Coursera, impact of monetization models on faculty, etc. Moreover, the University is open to discussing the language of Exhibit G-1 in the hope of clarifying the University’s intent.

I am also persuaded that a course previously taught by a bargaining unit member but that now requires a license agreement with the University to do so online, may likely be a mandatory subject of bargaining under HEERA, even without course credit. This is because of the potential effects of the online course on the faculty member’s terms and conditions of employment.”

April 26, 2013 -The Spring Forum on Online Education,  included panelists Robert Meister and Daphne Koller, Co-founder of Cousera, Professor of Computer Science.  One interesting point is that Daphne Koller states clearly that Coursera allows Universities to have different contracts.  Here is the link to the video. http://senate.ucsc.edu/senate-meetings/senate-forums/2013-april-26-forum.html https://uc-d.adobeconnect.com/_a841422360/p6r7eghec1o/?launcher=false&fcsContent=true&pbMode=normal.

As evidence of the fact that different universities use different contracts,  see the The U. of Michigan Contract with Coursera – note that in this contract, towards the end (starting on page 36) are the G-1 and G-2 faculty contracts. ‘This  document is significant in part because In the Michigan contract, the instructor grants to COURSERA various rights FOR THE DURATION SUCH CONTENT IS OFFERED THROUGH THE PLATFORM (i.e., very limited transfer  of rights).  In our contract, in contrast, the rights are granted TO THE UNIVERSITY and this appears to be irrevocable and not connected to the hosting of the course on the Coursera  platform.’

May 10th, CUCFA President Robert Meister sent an open letter to Coursera founder Daphne Koller: Can Venture Capital Deliver on the Promise of the Public University?”

In July we received a notice from Labor Relations stating that “Coursera staff are in the middle of overhauling the company’s proposed electronic Course Development Agreement (CDA) in response to legal concerns expressed by numerous institutions, including the University of California. The University does not know how long Coursera will take to revise its draft. It is possible that Coursera may take quite some time. The University plans to share any final draft with the SCFA prior to  implementation.”

We receive the revised Coursera Development and Instructor Agreements on February 6, 2014 and we were surprised by the language in this contract. We had hoped that the University’s new contract would address the issues that we have all raised.  We were under the impression that there was some consensus between us about fundamental issues.  The contract between UCSC and Coursera is not inappropriate. The issue is the contract that faculty are asked to sign with the University.  We submitted our thoughts and concerns on March 10, 2014 which you can read HERE

After two more rounds of discussions, on December 19, 2014, the administration provided the SCFA with a newly proposed Coursera Partnership Agreement and a revised Pilot UCSC Online Education Course Agreement for Coursera Courses, for our review.  We have been asked to provide red-lined proposed revisions which the university with then take into consideration. We have retained legal counsel to assist us in this process.

We are pleased to announce that, following two years of negotiations with the UCSC administration, we have reached an agreement regarding on-line course contracts. The first is the Online Course Hosting and Services Agreement between Coursera and the University, the second a Pilot UCSC Online Education Course Agreement for Coursera Courses to be used between the University and future Course Creators. These negotiations got off to a rocky start when the university signed a contract with Coursera without first consulting with the SCFA, but substantial progress was made subsequently and the bargaining committee of the SCFA wants to thank the administration for their good faith efforts in reaching a resolution on this matter. The agreements will be revisited at the end of two years to gauge their effectiveness and decide whether any changes in the contracts are needed. Please contact us at scfa.assist@gmail.com for further information concerning the agreements.






One Response to “* SCFA’s ongoing discussion concerning UCSC’s contract with Coursera”

  1. […] of California at Santa Cruz, the only UC campus to have a union that collectively bargains, has been fighting with that school’s administration over intellectual property rights since it was told last winter […]