En Route to Santa Barbara and the Quest for Online Degree Programs

Marvin had retired from Michigan State and, being tired of the snow, said he was going to treat himself to a retirement in Santa Barbara. He knew he could not afford to buy property there, but he could, he discovered, do online teaching-that is work for a community college in their online degree programs. So he was off to sunny California. He contracted with movers who agreed to lay and wait in route until Marvin had secured a place. Then he would call them and they would deliver his furniture.

Marvin set out on a trip across the United States. He thought he would never get across Nebraska and he had never seen so many rows of corn. His real surprise, however, was Utah. There he was nearly wiped out by a semi. The semi was about fifty yards ahead of him and the recaps peeled off the huge tires and became airborne. The tire fragments soared into his path. He did his best to avoid the missiles but a big one hit his right front tire. It bent his steering cable and made the car unsteady on turns. He had to find a repairman. He was fortunate to find a mechanic on Saturday but the repair job was nearly a thousand dollars. This was more money than he wanted to spend, but never mind. He had a nice retirement income and if he wanted he could always work in online degree programs. He had been reading about such programs when he left Michigan and he knew the advantages. His location did not matter. He could stay in SB or travel into Mexico. All he needed to do business was his laptop.

Marvin Reflects on his Prospects Including Working for Online Degree Programs

Marvin drove through the mountains of Utah and he felt like an ant when he saw the immensity of the mountains he was driving through. He relaxed. He would relax and live off his pension for a while and if he needed to work, he would apply to Santa Barbara City College. He had already discussed this possibility with the head of the English department there. But online teaching looked good too, for the aforementioned reasons. This was the new workforce. This was the way adjunct teaching would be done from here on out, he mused. From Utah, he would travel to Las Vegas and after taking in some shows for a few days he would head for Santa Barbara.

Once he had obtained an apartment, Marvin would call the moving company and set up his domicile. Then he would check out the local community college just in case he wanted to pick up some extra pay for adjunct work. He was very curious about this growing phenomenon of teaching in Online Degree Programs. He would see if City College offered such a program. If not, he could apply directly and it did not matter what state he was in. The programs were asynchronous.

Marvin's furniture arrived and he spent the next month or so setting up his place. He loved all the activity in SB. There was dancing and card playing and tennis and hiking in the mountains, and aquatic sports and whale watching and fabulous lectures and opera and bicycling. There were concerts and wine and cheese parties almost continuously. These activities did not cost very much. They were sponsored by the SB Newcomers Club. Nevertheless, Marvin liked to think ahead, so he paid a visit to his good friend at SB City College. He thought it would be neat to teach for Online Degree Programs and intended to find out if City College offered such a program.

Marvin Discovers Online Degree Programs

Yes, said his friend. We have such a program and if you work in it you never have to come onto campus. You can work entirely at home and your pay (which was triple the amount of his Michigan pay) would be electronically deposited in his checking account on a biweekly basis. His friend explained that the program sponsored by SB City College was very much like that of Argosy, Kaplan, DeVry, Baker, Phoenix and ITT Tech. The main task was to learn their platform. The instructor did not have to design the courses; they were designed for the student by experts and all you have to do was follow the prompts. The instructor did not have to call roll. This was done for him. He did not have to design tests and exams; they were designed by the curriculum specialists.

Then, what, pray tell, were the responsibilities of the instructor?

The instructor was expected to provide feedback. The students wrote essay and the instructor was to provide the student with feedback on grammar, sentence structure and content. The instructor was to engage the student in inquiry, to respond the student questions using the function: Ask the Professor. The instructor was there to administer tests, but the tests would be automatically

graded by a planned program. The instructor was to stimulate interaction between students. The instructors were to guide the students; they were facilitators, not teachers in the traditional sense. The instructor was to be present for a stated number of hours on line. This meant that he could sleep while the class continued to go on as long as he was there the minimal number of times. All this was done electronically. As soon as the instructor stepped into the room and posted a directive, the clock would stop. The instructor's presence is paramount. So much so that if the instructor is absent (does not post) for two consecutive days, he is regarded as being in the red zone and if he is 3 times in the red zone he will not be invited to teach for the school again. So this is the strict part. As far as grading goes, grades are electronically calculated. There is only input on the part of the instructor. The student may view his/her grades every week. They are posted online under GRADES. So, the main task is presence and feedback. If you are good at those items you will have a job, for online degree programs are sweeping the country. There are thousands of jobs available across the nation.

You must stay alert for online schools which may go by a different name such as distance education degree or online teaching degree. There exists more specific ones such as online law degree and online degree accounting. Sometimes it is just a matter of interpolation of the words. For example, online teaching masters may become earn teaching degree online. Stay alert.

Marvin had to guard against getting confused. At first he did not realize that distance education was virually the same as online teaching and learning. He did not realize that online degree programs and degree programs online were virtually the same except for the interpolation of the words. He also noted that some programs were stated quite generally, such as online school, but that others were stated very specifically, such as psychology degree online.

Traditional adjunct college instructors still teaching college students in a physical university, community college or state college classroom should give serious consideration to developing an online teaching schedule with online courses for online degree programs. Distance education technology makes it relatively easy and very cost-effective to deliver post-secondary instruction on the Internet. Additionally, this same distance education is creating many online professor job openings that require technically qualified academics to apply for them. The numbers of accredited online bachelor degree programs and accredited online master's degree programs will only grow in the coming years. The individual with an earned graduate degree, a Ph.D. or master's degree, can certainly earn more online adjunct income from teaching online for accredited online college degree programs.