Online Adjunct Positions

Would you accept an online adjunct position? What would you be getting yourself into? If you have done adjunct teaching, you are on your way, but what about adding another dimension: online teaching? What does this distinction imply?

It implies teaching in cyberspace and in asynchronous time. It implies being able to travel out of state or out of country and still maintain your course. It implies having attendance electronically taken for the instructor. It implies having lesson plans and, indeed, the entire course already planned and waiting to be executed. So, you will make more money and you will have much of the work done for you by the system. What's not to like?

You will have to master a learning curve-- to learn a new platform, but in the remainder of this article, I provide you with a skeletal version of what you are likely to face. Once you sign on, the first panel you will see on the top of your monitor is Announcements.


This panel provides a way for the instructor and the administration to reach changes in relevant classes and to reach a broad section of the student body in an instant. In states of emergency such as an approaching tornado in areas where students are located, the administration may post an alert, indicating that there is a power outage in these areas or they have been told to evacuate and that instruction is on hold in these areas until further notice. On a less dramatic but still important use, the instructor may post office hours and policy on plagiarism. The next phase is...


This panel will take many forms, for it ties into evaluation of student performance. Every week a new objective test is given, so it is necessary to prepare the students so there will be no surprises. For example, the students need to know that the objective tests are timed, so if they do not finish they will lose points. They need to know what and how to write on a particular subject given in assignments. They need to know how to use APA and to complete written assignments. They need to study the criteria of acceptable performance as stated in the weekly rubric. They need to understand how to work in a group to complete their team research and reports.

Problems and Solutions:

In this panel, students are acting on the curriculum goal of becoming independent learners, discovery and sharing with fellow classmates. The students may have discovered a new way of navigating that takes less time and they share it with the class. This involves communication skills and critical thinking and is part of the curriculum goals.

Discussion Thread:

In this phase, the instructor introduces a concept and students share their feelings and ideas. The ultimate goal is to get them to respond to one another. For example, why is that the statement, "John is easy to please" can be converted to the passive, but that the sentence, "John is eager to please," produces a nonsense sentence when we try to convert it to the passive: "To please John is eager." Why?


The welcome function of online programs of grading is that they virtually do the grading for the instructor. The instructor inputs scores from various tests and performances and the grading system records and averages them. When it comes to conferencing with students about their grades, the scores are available and are organized for the conference. Grades on objective tests, essays, discussion thread, and group project are given. This makes communication easier.


Most of the conferences in an online program are private...with just the teacher and the student present. This is carried out over the phone, on email, or in a chat room. But in case of contention over grade interpretation or a request of the student, sometimes a legal representative is included a dean or possibly a parent. The student may share their questions and the teacher's answers in another forum call, Ask the Professor.

Ask the Professor

Here, the student asks a content related question which, along with the answer, will be shared with the class. Thus, what helps one student will ultimately help all. This phase provides a 24 hour turnaround. If the question requires tutoring, then the professor refers the student to one of the many online tutorials available.

Online Tutorials:

There are many online tutorials available. If the student needs help with grammar, all the major errors and rules governing the errors are available: subject verb agreement, pronoun antecedent clarity and agreement, case, number, etc. If the problem is with organizing, there are tutorials on APA to provide clear rules for organizing and documentation; to avoid plagiarism the student is referred to, where the students' writing is compared with millions of like copies and the system calculates the percentage of identical passages.

Student Lounge and Bonding:

The idea for this phase is to provide an environment where the students can share not only concept and subject matter insights, but their feelings about the course and their personal issues. The purpose is not to grade the student on some kind of performance. In fact, this section is not graded. The purpose is to provide a way for students to bond so that they will have support not just in the immediacy of the course, but beyond it.

An examination of the phases listed above shows that online education focuses more on process than mere coverage of content. The important aspects are that it is very flexible in terms of scheduling other courses and work schedules; it frees one for travel and it pays more than twice as much as a traditional format. Moreover, many of the usual functions that are the teacher's responsibility such as attendance taking and averaging grades are eliminated. The emphasis on critical thinking and cooperative sharing of concepts are built in. The instructors time is saved by the use of tutorials that are built in, automatic and online. These are some of the many advangages of online education.

The growth of accredited online bachelor degree programs and accredited online master's degree programs, which are populated with multiple online college courses that must have technically and academically qualified online adjunct instructors teaching them, now represent the best possible career path for an adjunct faculty member. The reason for this is that new and returning college students actually enjoy earning an accredited online college degree from their personal computers because they find it more academically productive and less resource intense. This means that more online adjunct employment is now available and more will be available in the future. The adjunct college teachers who have made the leap from the physical college classroom to a full time online teaching schedule with eight to ten online adjunct jobs are easily more empowered by the control they have over the teaching schedule and the generation of multiple online adjunct income streams.