It's not lecturing, it's e-lecturing
October 3, 2006 4:57 AM   Subscribe

What can you tell me about adjuncting online?

A friend is thinking about trying to teach English lit and English composition online. She has the relevant degrees and experience, but a few questions:

* How best to break into online teaching?
* Is she starting too late to get classes for Spring 2007?
* Which online colleges are best to work for? Which are the notorious diploma mills and scammers she should avoid?
* How many classes can she teach at one time? How much money can she expect to make doing this?
* Are there any hidden pitfalls that make online instruction a much worse job than it appears?
* Would working as an online instructor make it harder for her to go back and teach at brick-and-mortar universities someday? How is experience as online faculty viewed by hiring committees?

Any other guidance you can provide would be very much appreciated. Thanks, MeFi!
posted by BackwardsCity to Education (2 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
A friend of mine who lives waaaay up in the mountains does this. She has good qualifications--an MA plus a book--but had a hard time getting anyone to hire her sight unseen. She finally landed a few classes simply by sending out her cover letter and vita to dozens of colleges that offered online classes.

Adjuncting is pretty much a ripoff, very low pay for the amount of work. Expect to make roughly $2k per course. A full time assistant professor at a community college, by contrast, will make at least $35k a year for teaching ten courses a year. If this is her first time I wouldn't recommend she teach more than 2 courses.

Online teaching is generally a good thing to have on your vita as you go for a tenure track job. But this might not be the case at a research-oriented university. Some older professors, who have neither taught nor learned online, think they know all about it and that it is worthless. But unless your friend has her heart set on teaching at a big R-1, I wouldn't worry about it.

Good luck to your friend. She can get in touch with me if she likes, I teach most of my load online, email in the profile.
posted by LarryC at 5:16 AM on October 3, 2006

I have been teaching composition on-line for about 6 years. I got into it from regular face-to-face teaching at a community college; my department offered training for faculty interested in teaching on-line. I do not know how else to do it, although I have been through the application process with Phoenix University and their pay actually didn't seem bad, and their courses are short which can be nice.

It is not too late to get into classes for Spring 2007. There is a high turnover for faculty and a high need for part-time faculty because these classes are generally required for all students. There is a big bump in the student population in the fall, however, so it might be easier to find work for a fall semester.

I have not taught for an entirely on-line university. It there is a community college where near you are, your friend might also consider applying there.

My college allows part-timers to teach 3 classes (12 credit hours) per semester. I make about $2600 per class. One advantage of teaching on-line is that it can be very time-efficient--for instance, all of my lecture materials and assignments are on a website. Each semester, I just proof the pages and make minor changes. When you teach face-to-face and have to deliver a lecture to 3 classes, you have to show up three times to deliver it, but the same "lecture" can be delivered to as many students on-line as can click the link. So I put in a lot fewer hours for the money than I did when I was teaching only face-to-face. It feels like much less of a rip-off.

Of course, you are not limited to teaching at only one college. One of the instructors in my department taught 9 classes at three colleges last semester. But I don't recommed it.

The trade-off is that I found teaching on-line more time-consuming in the first semester, because of the need to develop the materials. I also hadn't yet at that time put in place any systems for limiting students' access to me or their expectations. They want you to be available 24/7, so it's important to make it clear to them what schedule you check e-mail on, and to have a separate e-mail account for teaching so that you don't end up attending to a stack of student e-mails every time you check e-mail. Here is a link to an article on time-management for on-line faculty.

Students' expectation that you will answer their questions instantly is one of the pitfalls; teaching on-line can be a life-sucker in that way if you're not careful to set boundaries.
posted by not that girl at 6:57 AM on October 3, 2006

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