Online Learning and the TDSB Local OSSTF

When the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) introduced its e-learning day-school credit programme circa 2008, the local Ontario Secondary Schools Teachers Federation (OSSTF) bargaining unit executive had immediate concerns that we had no workload language specific to the teaching conditions within which our members assigned to these courses would work. Among our specific concerns in relation to the introduction of this new programme were how teachers’ workloads might be affected by having students from multiple schools enrolled in their courses and that the teacher would potentially be expected by students to be immediately available on a 24/7 basis. In addition, our class size caps at that time did not contemplate e-learning courses, nor did our language related to qualifications and staffing for online instruction.

Through an established process, the appropriate bargaining unit personnel shared these concerns with the appropriate personnel in management, establishing the following protections for teachers:

  • A teacher must be qualified to teach the curriculum in the credit offering of an e-learning course and must provide his or her consent to teach in an e-learning programme. Once they have taught e-learning once, teachers are considered experienced, but not certificated in e-learning for the purposes of future staffing, but have the ability to have e-learning removed from their certification records at will.
  • Class size limits that apply to traditional classes will also apply to e-learning classes.
  • Initially no teacher could be assigned to teach more than three e-learning courses in a semester, or in a full year school, per year. This condition has now been modified so that a willing teacher could have up to a full timetable (six courses) of e-learning classes.
  • Teachers establish availability hours for student access.

In agreeing to these limitations, both the Board personnel and union officials agreed that these working conditions would help to protect the quality of the new e-learning programme.

These conditions (like all working conditions agreed upon between OSSTF District 12 Secondary Teachers Bargaining Unit and the TDSB) are reviewed annually with the possibility of mutually agreed upon refinements being implemented. They also form part of the regular bargaining process where mutual agreement for change is not achieved.