A teaching adjunct may follow a traditional on the ground pattern of curriculum organization or an online mode of curriculum organization. The difference is the way that time and space is construed. In the traditional organization, the instructor must be present on a regular schedule and meet in a specific classroom at a specific time and located on a specific campus-- In other words, to be located in space and time. In the online pattern, one is freed from real time and space. It is possible using a laptop to tune into the course you are teaching in Texas and then a few hours later, to tune into the same class in Mexico. And you will not miss a beat.
There are other advantages of the online system over the traditional format. For example, the instructor does not have to take attendance. This is done for her. She does not have to design curricula or make out lesson plans; this is done for her. She does not have to average grades; this is done for her.
So, if teaching on line is a good deal in respect to job description, what advantages does it have over the traditional in respect to pay? The answer is that as an online instructor, you can earn at least double the pay. You see, the traditional set up takes 16 weeks of class meetings; whereas, the online system takes 7.5 weeks back to back.
If online teaching is such a good deal, then how does one apply? The first step is to edit your CV so that it reflects your interest in online teaching. You will need references and copies of your transcripts. Later, upon request you will need to furnish proof of your identity. You will need to have this proof notarized. But wait until you are asked to supply this. Once the school shows interest, they will give you a phone call for an interview, and if this goes well, they will set up training for you. Upon completion of the training you will be assigned a mentor. Then you will be assigned classes to teach. Follow your mentor.
Now that we have explored the advantages of the online system, what does it look like in practice? It is similar to the one that follows, but not identical. The following is a general pattern and one should not expect a given school to provide an identical pattern. Upon signing in, the first thing noticeable about the monitor is that it is divided into color coded segments. The first segment is Announcement.
Here, urgent information is posted. Perhaps there has been a major change of the program and this affects everyone's schedule. The instructor will post office hours.
Here, a variety of instruments are used. The student is assigned to read lectures, observe demonstrations, write documented essays, participate in discussions, and read relevant essays. The criterion of acceptable performance is expressed in a rubric.
Problems and Solutions:
In the online system, the student is called upon to observe potential problems in navigation and to design ways around these problems. For example, the student may notice that there is a much simpler and quicker way to navigate a particular search. In sharing this insight with fellow students, all the class is improved.
Discussion thread is the tracing of a theme. The instructor introduces the theme and then the students pick it up. For example, the instructor may introduce students to the difference between online education and traditional education. The idea is to get students to respond to one another.
Grades are automatically averaged and can be an incentive for the student to improve. The grades are organized and can be a great basis upon which to conduct a conference with the student. The student may view his grades at any time during the term but may not be able to see other student's grades.
Conferences are usually private and held to review grades and how to improve one's score. If the instructor and the student are in contention over a grade, then sometimes legal counsel will be called in. If the conference is to be private, it is carried out over the phone, by email or by private cell.
Ask the Professor:
Here, a student may pose a question for the professor at any time and expect a 24 hr. turnaround. The conference in Ask the Professor is usually about content. The questions and the response are posted so that other students may benefit from the exchange. If the question requires tutoring, then the instructor may recommend tutorials for the student.
There are tutorials available on most online programs. There are tutorials on grammar to help the student distinguish singular nouns and verbs from the plural. There are tutorials on plagiarism such as turnitin.com which compares the student essay with matching essays and compares the original with millions of like essays and calculates the percentage of identical phrases. APA (American Psychological Association) is a tutorial that teaches the student how to organize a documented essay.
This phase is not graded. The object is to promote sharing among students and to increase bonding. Students are encouraged to share both content questions and personal issues. The idea is to build a support system that goes beyond the course.
We have reviewed the advantages of online teaching as opposed to traditional formats. We have identified many such advantages such as freedom from the constraints of time and space, prewritten lesson plans, attendance taken automatically, grades averaged automatically, etc. The flexibility of scheduling is an enormous advantage. The disadvantages are few and easily overcome, such as learning the new modes of navigation and learning the platform. Remember that the mentor is always at your side and if you need help, all you have to do is ask. Also, there are tutorials for instructors as well as for the students. For example, there are tutorials that will assist you in preparing your grades to be submitted for the week or for the term.
Any adjunct instructor teaching on a physical community college, state university or four-year campus would be much better off financially by teaching online for a variety of accredited online college degree programs that offer students a chance to earn an online bachelor degree or online master's degree. The reason for this is that the pay for teaching an individual post-secondary class is so low that it is necessary to teach eight to ten of them in order to earn a decent living. It is impossible to acquire enough college or university classes to teach at the physical post-secondary academic institutions simply because it is necessary to physically travel between them. However, adjunct positions with online degree programs do not require any physical travel because they are located on the Internet. This difference means that online adjunct jobs will generate much more online adjunct income than traditional classroom teaching simply because it is less expensive and less troublesome to arrive in an online college classroom than a physical college classroom.