Faculty strongly encouraged to make the switch to Canvas


The members of the Senate Equity, Inclusion and Anti-Discrimination Advocacy Committee expressed concern at their May 21 meeting about making sure resources would be available for preparing online or hybrid classes this fall that are accessible and about the uneven gender roles for faculty working from home.

Canvas vs. Blackboard

Senate President Chris Bonneau told the group that the new Canvas learning management system is definitely more accessible than Blackboard and the Teaching and Learning Center is gearing up to provide additional resources to help faculty with hybrid classes.

During the quick transition to online learning, Bonneau said, faculty members got it done, but it’s time to move beyond crisis management. “Speaking for me, I want to up my game,” he said.

While faculty members have been given an extension to make the transition from Blackboard to Canvas, everyone is being strongly encouraged to make the move as soon as possible. Canvas is more accessible, Bonneau said, and students have made it clear they prefer to operate on one platform. Also, all training and other resources will only be available on Canvas.

Gender issues when working from home

Committee member Natasha Tokowicz, an associate professor of psychology, raised concerns about how the pandemic has affected male and female academics differently.

She said people in a group she belongs to, Women in Cognitive Science, have noticed articles about how women have not been publishing as much during the pandemic.

Inside Higher Education cited two journals who have seen a decrease in submissions by women. Elizabeth Hannon, deputy editor of the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, wrote on Twitter that she’d received “negligible” submissions from women within the last month. “Never seen anything like it,” she added.

David Samuels, co-editor of Comparative Political Studies, in response shared that submissions to his journal are up 25 percent so far in April, compared to last year. That increase was driven entirely by men, however, he said. Women’s submissions stayed flat.

Tokowicz pointed to a new poll by Morning Consult for The New York Times that found home schooling during the pandemic is being handled disproportionately by women. Although nearly half of fathers with children under 12 report spending more time on homeschooling than their spouse, just 3 percent of women say their spouse is doing more. Eighty percent of mothers say they spend more time on it.

“Where women tend to get less productive during parental leave, men tend to get more productive during parental leave,” Tokowicz said. “This causes big differences when people go up for tenure or go up for their next promotion. … This is obviously problematic for a number of reasons, because people are often sort of inherently compared to each other at rank. … The question is what we can do about it; what we should be doing about it.”

She suggested the first step is to “talk about the problem to higher administration and make sure it is clear what’s happening. And I don’t think we even need to really analyze the why, but to make clear that this is a problem that is happening, because of the comparisons that do take place.”

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at suejones@pitt.edu or 412-648-4294.


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