Teaching off-the-shelf curricula

Discussion in 'Online & DL Teaching' started by Kizmet, Jun 9, 2018.

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  1. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

  2. Abner

    Abner Well-Known Member

    "When I read over the outline I remarked that the textbook they wanted me to
    wrap the course around is widely regarded by academics in the field as charlatanism, full of meaningless cliches and pseudo-vocational training. But she insisted. “We’ve used this book successfully in the past,” she said. “And the last time we let the instructor try something different, the course was a disaster.”

    Lack of flexibility. They expect teacher to teach like robots who are incapable of teaching their way.
     
  3. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef

    This is a volcano waiting to explode.... it's just a question of when?

    This is driven by book publishers, in my opinion. Book publishers are simply responding to demands of colleges (specifically community colleges) to build *more* of everything- more digital content, more instructor resources, more m/c quizzes, more online modules. Schools are asking for it because they're trying to put every course online- or at the very least keep up with the student demand to do more online. Being unfamiliar with what high-quality distance learning could be, they simply join the herd of schools that are building entire courses on this lazy and cheap resource of canned curriclum delivered by their book publisher.
    Courses that do this are 100% hacked (I use that word generically) by the students because when you have 75 colleges adopt the same textbook with the same canned digital content-duh!?!? EVERY quiz, EVERY answer, EVERY resource is already online for anyone to find. <shocker>
    So, this horrible course development model doesn't allow teachers the time or ability to do something extreme, like integrate HOMEWORK or ESSAYs and the like. It's just not practical. So, entire groups of students are getting perfect scores on perfectly consistent quizzes that are delivered by perfectly useless faculty who can barely hang on to their adjunct position.
    As a member of a family that has used a LOT of DL over the past decade, and having come from the community college myself- I think it's a nightmare. But, eventually, it will change. At some point the young people who grew up online will replace the old guard - they'll know the flaws because they all exploited them. It just takes time.
     
  4. jonlevy

    jonlevy Member

    Imagine that, nonsense rubrics that you must use for grading, canned quizzes, and robotic benchmarking for faculty is bad. Been going on for over a decade. The accrediting agencies in the US are encouraging it otherwise the online education providers wouldn't doing it. As online faculty you better develop strong wrists because the amount of box clicking has increased in recent years as schools move to ever more elaborate rubrics. The students find it amusing because the rubric forces faculty to award credit for nonsense and incomplete answers. Turn it In replaces common sense and is usually rigged by the university to actually hide rather than find plagiarism by tuning it up too high or too low.
     
  5. jonlevy

    jonlevy Member

    Online adjuncts will be replaced by robots within the next five years, they are not really necessary since they do not instruct. A full time or better yet gig facilitator could then cover numerous classes at once answering non routine queries and adding to discussion boards.
     
  6. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Having been an online adjunct, I don't agree they don't instruct. Schools are not all alike.
     
    Abner likes this.
  7. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef

    Well of course, you couldn't be the Resident Gadfly if you agreed with everyone. <smile>
     
    Abner likes this.
  8. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Perhaps. :) But never without cause.
     
  9. jonlevy

    jonlevy Member

    Moderating a discussion board and grading canned quizzes and assignments is not instructing. Kaplan had live lectures once a week so one could actually instruct since they didn't seem to care what you said. Some of the other will let you do WebEx on your own time. it is really grad assistant work but they need people with terminal degress to do it to satisfy state accreditors. From the student point of view I doubt they see any difference unless they like eccentric professors with crazy attitudes and grade curves. My beef is that online adjuncts are paid a pittance compared to tenured faculty, $15-$20 an hour is exploitation for someone who went to the university for 6-8 years.
     
    Abner likes this.
  10. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Or rather non-state accreditors, since accreditors in the U.S. are private (other than NYSBoR, an edge case).

    The funny thing is that that's been the situation for a long, long time now, and yet we still see people saying they plan to get their PhD so they can adjunct.
     
  11. Abner

    Abner Well-Known Member

    $15-$20 an hr is outrageous!
     
  12. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Why? They're not conscripted.
     
  13. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    I think that a lot of people adjunct as a side gig. They don't rely solely on their adjunct pay to make ends meet. And they like saying that they teach at a college. They enjoy the teaching and being involved in the university on some level. As Steve is saying, no one is forcing them to take these jobs and my impression is that there are many, many more applicants than there are openings. In another thread there is an article asking if unions help adjuncts. I'm not even sure that adjuncts are allowed into the teachers unions. Are they? They may have spent a lot of time, energy and expense earning their grad degrees but part of the concept of value is related to rarity and the fact is that people with grad degrees who wouldn't mind teaching a few college courses are not very rare.
     
  14. jonlevy

    jonlevy Member

    That is not the outrageous part, the outrageous part is no benefits, training on your own time with no guarnatee of any work at all, and contracts only for a class at a time. In other words the colleges grossly overhire and then under assign classes. Also there is a an investment in time learning the the various LMS platforms and university procedures that is uncompensated.
     
  15. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    There's nothing "outrageous" about not being offered benefits as part of a part-time temporary contract.

    I personally wouldn't do uncompensated training either. But that all stops the day that candidates say "no". Clearly they believe that the opportunity is better than whatever else they may have lined up.
     
  16. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    I think there are a couple of different things going on here. The first is that the university, as a business, is taking advantage of the saturated adjunct market. They are buying them cheap because they can. I just hired a lawyer for a real estate deal and I don't mind saying that I played three attorneys against each other and as a result I got a great deal because there are so many lawyers around. On that level what the school is doing is just good business. The other thing that's happening is at the other end of the deal. As you mentioned, the adjunct has spent a lot of time and money with no guarantee of any employment. Doesn't that adjunct bear some responsibility for making that decision? Is it reasonable to expect a guarantee of employment in a world of increasingly competitive hiring? I have a friend who is a Psychotherapist. She is setting up a private practice and has gone to some pains to research the demographics of our area - increasing/declining populations. Increasing/declining school enrollments. Where are the other practices located, etc. Shouldn't an adjunct be considering something similar? After all, it's their career in the balance. To me this is quite similar to the student who takes out 200K in student loans to get an English Lit degree and then, upon graduation, become upset to find themselves working as a retail sales associate or as an entry level admin assistant. Don't they have some responsibility in that matter? I have some sympathy for those people but they need to do some creative thinking in order to improve their situations.
     
    SteveFoerster likes this.
  17. jonlevy

    jonlevy Member

    Kizmet and Steve - you are technically correct but why take the side of exploiters? They do not pass on any savings to students and continue to pay adjuncts less not more. Eventually, we will all be in the gig economy with no benefits or job security making a pittance while corporate shareholders clean up? Is that the world you want for your children or grandchildren? As for online instructors actually instructing anything, that just is not in cards if the course has canned lessons, canned quizzes, canned assignments and mandatory rubrics.
     

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