Thoughts on Life, Art, Photography, Technology, Teaching and Travel…..
Another semester of online teaching has come to an end. I submitted my last set of grades yesterday and woke up this morning with the realization that I didn’t have to check into the discussion boards for my various art and photography online classes. I actually have some down time until classes kick back in on January 9th. Its going to take me a day or so to get used to this change in my routine. I retired from full time college administration and teaching 2 and 1/2 years ago and after a 6 month hiatus went back to work teaching what I love and am passionate about. Art History, Computer Art and Photo Appreciation.
I love what I do and am very happy to be retired and able to work from home or anywhere there is a WiFi hot spot. Many people don’t realize just how demanding online teaching can be, especially if you teach as many courses as I do in a semester. This past fall I taught 9 classes for 5 colleges here in North Carolina. This coming Spring I’ll be teaching 8 classes for 4 colleges. This is beyond a full teaching load for any faculty member working at a college full time and takes me approximately 5 – 6 hours per day (including weekends) actively engaging students in my various courses that are on both Blackboard and Moodle LMS platforms.
Its important to note that adjunct instructors (for the most part) are only paid for the designated contact hours assigned to the class. Most of my classes are 3 contact hours per week with the exception of Computer Art where I am paid for 6 because it is a studio course and labor intensive. Contact hours were initially based on traditional classroom meeting times and have not changed when the courses migrated online. To be a proactive teacher it takes a minimum of 5-6 hours per week to do an effective job teaching one 3 credit class in the online environment.
Online classes are more labor intensive for both teachers and students due to the amount of reading, writing, research and discussion board work that is required to meet the requirements of the course. Adjunct instructors are not usually paid for the administrative work that is required by each college nor are they compensated for creating, maintaining and retooling their actual online classes that are delivered via Moodle and/or Blackboard. New adjuncts also have to spend many hours in professional development learning how to effectively use the course management system the college requires them to use for their classes.
I’ll spend a few hours each day here at the Christmas break retooling, and updating my courses in preparation for Spring semester. This is not a complaint – just the reality of being an online adjunct. Its unfortunate (not for me) that more and more colleges are relying on adjunct instructors to teach in their various programs and cutting back on the full time faculty positions that used to offer full benefits with time designated for course preparation and design.
I was very blessed to have the opportunity to work full time in the NC Community College System for 30+ years and retire with a full pension. I now have a much better understanding of what it’s like to be an adjunct instructor and can empathize with teachers that have to hustle to make ends meet on adjunct pay with no benefits and no compensation for the time they put into developing their courses. This is just the reality of the situation at this point in time, at least from my perspective and personal experience. It seems every semester we are asked to do more administrative work such as keeping online attendance, 10% reports, professional development reports, drop forms, view powerpoints and be tested on college regulations, submit grade reports and success rate breakdowns.
As I said….this blog post is not meant to be a complaint about online adjunct teaching….it is just my observations here as I close out another semester of teaching online. I love what I do and am very lucky to have the opportunity and skill sets to do it. New teachers just need to be aware of the reality of online teaching – especially adjunct instructors.