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Teachers, students dismayed after University of Manitoba admin locks online learning site

Students at the University of Manitoba discovered they had been locked out of an online learning portal on Tuesday. Getty Images

University students caught in between administrators and striking faculty say they were locked out of an online learning system that was to let them continue their studies.

The University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA) went on strike Tuesday morning after the union and administrators failed to come to an agreement over the latest contract.

Read more: University of Manitoba faculty on strike

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Later that day, students who thought they wouldn’t have to cross a picket line to continue some of their work online found they were now denied access from UM Learn, the university’s online learning portal.

“Just noticed that I can only access two of my classes which aren’t striking,” wrote Roderick Richardson on Twitter.

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Click to play video: 'Potential student impact of University of Manitoba faculty strike'
Potential student impact of University of Manitoba faculty strike

“BAD FORM,” added Librarian Alyson Brickey.

“In response to the strike, the Uof M appears to have locked students out of their online class materials. It’s pretty clear the University does not have the best interests of students in mind here,” wrote Cara Ginter on Facebook.

In a statement posted to the school’s website late Wednesday afternoon, officials from the U of M said all courses on UM Learn have since been activated.

“We heard from you that not being able to access all courses in UM Learn was an issue. We addressed this as quickly as possible to reduce any additional stress this caused you,” Laurie M. Schnarr, Vice-Provost (Students) said in the statement.

Schnarr said students are not responsible for any course work, assignments, or exams in courses taught by an instructor who is on strike during the strike.

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Click to play video: 'University of Manitoba faculty on strike'
University of Manitoba faculty on strike

A regularly updated  list of classes that are continuing during the strike is available on the school’s website.

The school’s statement didn’t say why students had been denied access from UM Learn.

One second-year student, who asked not to be identified for fear of academic reprisal from the University, said she was trying to download all her course material before more parts of the system were affected.

“I just want to learn and for the university to do this, this is not acceptable,” she said.

“They need to keep the students out of it, this is between teachers and the university, not the students.”

UMFA says it was not responsible for the lockout and said it cannot deny access to students even if they wanted to.

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“The University of Manitoba unilaterally removed all student access from the UM Learn site,” UMFA said in a statement to Global News.

“The material on these sites, in courses taught by University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA) members, is the intellectual property and is work produced by UMFA members.

“The decision by the University administration to block access to UM Learn was made without consultation or communication with UMFA, and as such, questions related to this should be referred to the University administration.”

Wednesday morning, The Manitoba Teachers Society threw its support behind striking UMFA workers, which include professors, librarians and other support staff.

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The union is calling for wage increases to address what it calls continued recruitment and retention issues, and is asking the university to push back against government-imposed regulations that call for small raises over the next three years.

-With files from Shane Gibson

Click to play video: 'University of Manitoba faculty members on strike'
University of Manitoba faculty members on strike

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