Online Adjunct Employment
Have you ever considered taking online adjunct employment? How would this choice differ from simply adjunct employment? I answer that it would make all the difference. But online education and traditional education are not entirely different. Traditional education carries out teaching in real space and time, whereas online education operates in cyberspace and asynchronous time. This is a difference in operation. Another operational difference is that the traditional course lasts 16 weeks and the online course lasts 7.5 weeks. An instructor in an online setting can therefore make 2-3 times more per semester. There is no delay between the end of classes and the start of new ones in an online setup. Another radical difference between the two is that the online course carries out certain functions for the instructor automatically. The instructor, for example, does not have to call attendance; this is done for him electronically. The instructor does not have to write curricula or lesson plans; this is done for her automatically.
Because of the above foundations, the online instructor is free to travel to the Bahamas or China or Sweden and, all the time, to stay fully engaged with her class. As a less dramatic, but no less important example, the online class gives the instructor and students the freedom to balance courses with work schedules. The same schedule saver holds for the instructor in that the instructor can concentrate on research when it is convenient to do so and have a time block available to do so. So, how do these modes of learning differ in content and in process?
The difference in online teaching and traditional processes does not have anything to do with content. Both programs still teach basic math, composition, history, languages, etc. They do, however, differ in process. Following are slices of the dynamic aspects of the online course:
Here, general information is given to the students by the instructor and the administration. The administration may wish to warn instructors whose students are in a stormy area that they may have loss of power and not be able to complete class work. The message is to support the student and not to penalize them. If there is a major change in the offerings or requirements for the curriculum, this change will be communicated through the Announcements. In addition, the instructor may wish to post office hours or to explain policy on grading or plagiarism.
Here the processes of performance are defined and measured. The criteria of acceptable performance are expressed in the form of a rubric. Demonstrations are given to support the abstract principles. Various types of instruments are used to assess the learning growth: timed objective tests, essays, participation in Discussion Threads, group project.
Problems and Solutions:
In this phase, the student is encouraged to discover new ways of seeing the skills and concepts in the course and to share their discoveries with the class. For example, the student may discover a new way of navigating a search and then teach the class how to do this. The idea is to encourage independence and a propensity to share. It is a major approach to critical thinking. The next stage is Discussion Thread:
Here the instructor throws out a problem and offers his own thoughts and feelings about the problem. Then he uses strategies that require the students to listen to one another,to reason and to express themselves. For example, why can one say "John is easy to Please" and change it to "To please john is easy." But when we try to convert "John is eager to please" to the passive voice, we get a nonsense sentence: "To please John is eager." Why? If students want to pursue a problem with the instructor, they may click on Ask the Professor.
Ask the Professor:
Here, the students may post questions for the instructor and expect a 24 hour turnaround. These questions and the responses are posted on the monitor and serve as part of the learning process as they are shared with other students. Not all questions, however, are appropriate for this phase. Some are not for the public to read; they are for the student and the teacher. Questions of a personal nature fall into this category. If the questions require tutoring, then the instructor will refer the student to Tutorials:
The student may need help with basic composition. The teacher can then recommend a tutorial that covers his/her problem. For example he may not be able to recognize subject/verb agreement. A tutorial on this point could be helpful. The same would hold for not being able to recognize plagiarism. In this case, the instructor would probably recommend the use of Turnitin.com. This system will compare a sample student text to millions of like copies and calculate the percentage of identity. The student is free to elect tutorials at any time and the teacher may recommend or require tutorials as she sees the need.
The student may at any time call for a conference with the instructor and if the student does not request a conference, one will be scheduled for him. The private conference can be conducted on the phone, in a chat room, or by email. Sometimes an exception on privacy must be made if there is contention between the instructor and the student. Deans or legal counsel may also be present.
Grading is a real time saver for the teacher. The teacher inputs the grades but the system organizes the input and calculates averages. This grading system is available at any time. The student can check her own grades but none of the other students' grades. The teacher may check all the grades at any time. The organized grading provides a basis for conferencing with the student. The grade performances may become talking points.
Student Lounge and Bonding:
In this section, the students are encouraged to share their views on both content and personal insights. The ultimate goal is to create a context in which the students will bond. If this happens, it insures that the students will have a support system throughout one's academic career and beyond.
It is not a mistake for a traditional adjunct faculty instructor to pursue a full time online teaching schedule with accredited online bachelor degree programs and accredited online master's degree programs since there is a much betting living to be made from teaching online. The numbers of online adjunct job openings is growing at an exponential rate due primarily to the eagerness new and returning college students have for using their personal computers to access online college courses leading to an accredited online university degree. Of course it is necessary for the colleges, state universities and community colleges that offer their students a chance to earn an online college degree to place academically and technically qualified online adjunct instructors in the online college courses. As a result of this need for online adjunct faculty members, it can be safely assumed by any individual with an earned graduate degree, a master's degree or Ph.D., that online adjunct college teaching jobs represent a solid academic career choice.