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  1. #1

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    On-line Faculty positions: anyone has experience as Faculty or Student?

    I am considering applying for On-line faculty positions (preferably full time, rather than adjunct) at various colleges. I have never 'attended' an on-line course as a student or faculty, and would like to know what's involved. It seems now there are a lot of on-line positions and that may be my best chance to get a full time teaching position. All others are adjuncts (meaning instability- having to look for positions every semester).

    I would like to specifically know what kind of computer system I would need(my computer is 3-4 yeard old, with Windows XP), what softwares should I have(I only have Microsoft word & excel), and how does the student/faculty interaction take place?

    I have heard the name 'Canvas' at a community college here. Anyone has experience with this?

    I would also like to know your experience as a student if you have taken on-line courses. How does the student/faculty interaction take place? Does everyone have a camera installed, and what you like/dislike about on-line learning.

    My preference is almost always to have face to face interaction, and to fully utilize my presentation skills. An On-line position won't allow it, but if it's the only way I can get a full-time job for 9 months out of each year, it may be the way to go.

    I do have alternative plans if this does not work out. Right now I am trying to assess the feasibility of working as a full time on-line faculty at a college (and if it's on-line, it doesn't even have to be local).

    Thanks in advance.

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    I have experience teaching in an online program as a sessional/adjunct.

    The computer requirements really depend on what software the program/school uses. The program I teach in provides the software to load onto your home computer. Others have the software based on the institution's computer and you log into it via the Web and do all the work there.

    If you are looking for a full-time position, be sure to ask what the in-person requirements are. The full-time faculty in my program live all across the region, and do most of their work online. but are expected to come to the institution's physical location at least once every two months for department meetings and other administrative tasks. That can add up when it involves a plane fare each time.

    Off the top of my head, a couple of other issues I would look at:

    - What is the class size and how many courses are you going to be expected to teach or supervise? Some online schools operate under the idea that it's cheaper to do online courses and so they can have more students. But that means extra work for the instructor.

    - What are the requirements of the course(s)? E.g. how many assignments or exams would you have to mark, and with what turnaround time.

    - How are the courses structured? Some online courses are asynchronous, basically a discussion board where students do readings/activities and then post about them whenever it's convenient. Others have a regularly scheduled "class" time when everyone is online and talks live. Some courses also have a set start-end date, while others run whenever a student signs up for them. Each of these can make a difference in the instructor's workload.

    - One thing that I have to admit I'm not a big fan of in my courses is the expectation that you "check in" to the course discussion every day. Even if it's only for a few minutes when things are quiet, it can feel like an imposition on a day off. You might want to think about how you like to structure your work and whether something like that is something you'd like or dislilke.

    I'm sure others will come up with other ideas, but hopefully that's a start.
    You should never write words with numbers. Unless you're seven. Or your name is Prince. - "Weird Al" Yankovic, "Word Crimes"

  3. #3
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    I have experience as both faculty and student.

    As faculty: overedge pretty much nailed everything, but I will add that teaching online is, for me, more work than teaching in a traditional classroom. This is not always the case; much depends on what the school requires of you as a teacher. My school has an exceptionally high success rate with online classes and that is because expectations of instructors are very high. When I teach online, I feel as if I am on call 24 hours a day, and that's almost the truth. Some schools don't require so much of online instructors,. but in return, they expect you to carry a whole lot more students than you do in a traditional classroom. Either way, it's more work (at least for me) than lecturing.

    You need to have a pretty good grasp of basic technology IME, because the students don't (this always surprises new instructors). If you aren't tech savvy, you will want to get good training before you start--which is also something that is often in short supply.

    As a student: most online courses suck. The students who succeed in online courses are self-disciplined and motivated and comfortable with self-learning. Most students who sign up for online classes are not. In fact, most students who sign up for online classes expect online classes to be easier and to involve less work, while the opposite is generally true. There are usually more assignments in online classes and many of them are, frankly, busywork designed to force students to log in frequently and keep up with assignments. Many of the people who teach online do not consider it a real job; they think it's easy money and so they put little or no effort into the course. I've had taken some good online courses, but most of them have been pretty much a matter of self-discipline rather than learning. And again, the good classes? Demand a lot of the instructor.

    I highly recommend taking an online course before you teach one. My school actually requires this of prospective online faculty--and we are required to take an academic course online for a grade, not just audit some cake course. Everyone hates it, but it's good experience.
    "The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."-- Albert Einstein.

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    Thank you Overedge and Prancer! It's a really good suggestion to take an on line course first, as a student. I am also thinking that I should work as an adjunct on line faculty for one course (one semester or quarter) to get a feel for it, instead of committing to a full time faculty position. This sounds a lot harder than what I had imagined.

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    That would "get your feet wet", so you'll know if it's something you really want to do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vash01 View Post
    This sounds a lot harder than what I had imagined.
    There are people who "teach" online and do pretty much nothing. There's a lot of variation.

    For me, a typical online course is:

    3-5 papers, at least one of them a 10-page research paper.
    Some sort of weekly discussion (I am required to participate and ask thought-provoking questions to keep the discussions moving)
    Some minor assignments, often having to do with research

    My requirements (no one checks, but I am conscientious ): Emails must be answered within 24 hours; discussion posts are to be graded within 48 hours; minor assignments must be graded and returned in 3-5 days; papers must be graded and returned within one week; three hours a week of online office hours with additional time (both online and in person on campus) by appointment; weekly videos of me saying something to the students (this makes a big difference--students don't think of you as a person unless they see you).

    I've taken classes where the professors do nothing but answer email, if that. The courses come prepackaged and grading is done by Scantron exams taken at testing centers.

    There's a broad spectrum. If you take a class, it may end up being nothing like a class you teach. But it does give you some idea of the kinds of frustrations the students have to face--technology doesn't always work; professors aren't available; the work can be pointless and irritating and the discussions are often a total waste of time.

    If you do take a class, my suggestion is that you present yourself as just another undergrad or grad student, so that you are treated accordingly.
    "The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."-- Albert Einstein.

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    This is very interesting people. Thanks for the discussion. I am contemplating something much less ambitious - online one-on-one EAL tutoring for some spare cash. Session is just 1 hour long per student. I plan to start with a volunteer version for local immigrants first to build up resume/experience, but have been told many tutors are needed for students overseas - though the hours can be rough due to the time differences.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skate Talker View Post
    This is very interesting people. Thanks for the discussion. I am contemplating something much less ambitious - online one-on-one EAL tutoring for some spare cash. Session is just 1 hour long per student. I plan to start with a volunteer version for local immigrants first to build up resume/experience, but have been told many tutors are needed for students overseas - though the hours can be rough due to the time differences.
    This is interesting. I had not even considered the on line tutoring possibility. May be after taking a course as a student I could try tutoring for one semester, then adjunct for one semester, before deciding if this is I want to do full time.

    Some great information here! Thanks everyone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skate Talker View Post
    Thave been told many tutors are needed for students overseas - though the hours can be rough due to the time differences.
    Yes, that's another thing--if the only time students can "meet" online is 4 a.m., then I have to haul my half-asleep self to the computer at 4 a.m.

    Tutoring online is challenging, as you don't get a lot of cues from the student (confused faces, for example) and you have to be so precise and yet simple in the way you explain things. Our writing center tried online writing tutoring last year and it didn't work very well, largely because there weren't enough tutors who could be both articulate and concise on the fly; they are now doing tutoring online by having students submit papers for comments, which are emailed back. International students tend to take a lot of responsibility for their own learning, so they aren't quite as demanding as North American students (there are exceptions to this!) but they are also tougher to work with because of the language barriers. An hour is often not enough to get much done, especially if you are tutoring and not correcting work.

    I've had a lot of training and workshops and such on online education and every one of them emphasized that we are in the infancy of online learning, so it's all still pretty primitive and inefficient. And that's so. But it's interesting to be in on the ground floor; I've seen a lot of improvements just in the last four or five years.
    "The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."-- Albert Einstein.

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    Prancer - Are professors in traditional courses at your university also required to answer emails within 24 hours and to return graded papers within a specified time period? I personally am pretty prompt on responding to emails and returning graded assignment, but I know their would be if my university tried to institute those requirements.
    Creating drama!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prancer View Post
    Yes, that's another thing--if the only time students can "meet" online is 4 a.m., then I have to haul my half-asleep self to the computer at 4 a.m.
    I took an online class where the instructor was in Norway, and since all of the students were in Los Angeles, he had to cater to us in regards to time zones.

    I've only taken design classes online, and I agree with Prancer's assertion that students have to be extremely self-motivated to succeed. And if this self-motivation comes from the insistence that you're not going to waste your money, so be it. One of the better online classes I took was the aforementioned class at UCLA Extension with the Norwegian instructor, and the class cost $700. Thusly, the class was small (10-15 people) and the instructor had time to go through every student's assignment and give helpful critique.

    IMO, there would be no way that a teacher would be giving helpful critique to a class of 100+ students writing 10-page papers. You really have to see what your institutions' expectations are in terms of grading and class size. I think that's the most important thing, from a student perspective.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffisjeff View Post
    Prancer - Are professors in traditional courses at your university also required to answer emails within 24 hours and to return graded papers within a specified time period? I personally am pretty prompt on responding to emails and returning graded assignment, but I know their would be if my university tried to institute those requirements.
    For traditional courses, we have some guidelines for reasonable turnaround time, but the guidelines are much more lenient and they are just guidelines--no one enforces them or even pays attention unless student complaints are very high. I know more than a few professors who don't even know how the school email system works and a couple who refuse to use computers, period. We ARE required (or so they say) to post syllabuses online, and most people I know don't even do that.

    A lot of professors think they want to teach online classes (assuming it will be less work) until they get that list. Some of the professors ignore those rules, but their success rates are usually low and so they are phased out. We have to hit 80% or better to stay in the program and to consistently hit that rate online, you have to be engaged with the classes.
    "The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."-- Albert Einstein.

  13. #13

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    This has been an enlightening conversation. I am more likely to try for a traditional position now, but first as an adjunct, just to get used to teaching. I have taught just a few courses on and off; my day job is as an engineer, but I am trying to find something more interesting, and I thought college teaching could be interesting and rewarding.

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    I have been doing online studies for the last year to get my Bachelor's degree (4 more classes to go after this one). My interaction with instructors has mostly been minimal; I read the syllabus, the grading rubrics and instructor policies, and tend to be a self-starter in doing assignments, so there has only really been a few times I have had to ask for clarification on an assignment or something. There was one instructor who gave very poor instructions on assignments, and then seemed flabbergasted that people had questions of her. Her turnaround time on answering questions and grading assignments was the worst I had encountered by far as well. Most of the classes, there are 2 (or 3) specific discussion questions that you have to respond to in a short essay form, with at least one reference; you are also required to provide a "substantive" post twice a day on at least 4 separate days of the week, which is what counts as participation/attendance scoring. Every class I've had so far as well (except this one) has had "learning teams" and team assignments as well, which forces interaction with your fellow students (at least online). Generally there is one big paper or project due every week, and classes are 5-7 weeks each.
    I am free of all prejudices. I hate everyone equally.~W. C. Fields

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    Canvas offers a free program (your school may be paying for the full version) - it works on most operating systems and is web based. It's very easy to use from both a student and admin of the program pov. Basically you can put op assignments, videos, discussions etc and your students have access. You determine when items are available (some teachers will put up new items daily, others weekly and others would rather put it all out there and keep it self paced).

    Assignments can be simple -- from commenting on peer work to posting their portfolios. You can enter rubrics and grade accordingly. I have had no issues and their staff is responsive.

    I have taken online courses and like the ones where I get all my reading assigned on a calendar and weekly videos and work. I enjoy peer comments.
    Last edited by TheGirlCanSkate; 12-14-2013 at 12:30 AM.

  16. #16

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    How do you create videos to use in on line courses?

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    Most digital cameras can take video now. That's what I would use.

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    I took several on-line courses. they were not a satisfying experiences, but got the job done. Several students were international so group assignments were nearly impossible to complete. In at least two of the courses I got the impression that the "students" were not interested in completing work and just expected a grade - A - because they paid the money. In one class we were to write a group paper. Each of us were assigned a component of the paper (i.e. abstract, review of the literature, etc) One of the students, who supposedly taught English at the high school level, wrote something that would have been turned in by a 5th grade student. I suggested several edit changes, all of which were rejected. I asked the course instructor to consider a grade that was based solely on our own contributions, with the correspondence the rest of the group had with this man.

    I also took stats online. Not the brightest move on my part since I hate math. I never got a timely response from the instructor, which mostly consistent of "read chapter XX__ in YY book, or reference XX part of the syllabus. Since it was an online course, he did not have regular "office hours" set up for online students so there was 0 assistance from him.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vash01 View Post
    This has been an enlightening conversation. I am more likely to try for a traditional position now, but first as an adjunct, just to get used to teaching. I have taught just a few courses on and off; my day job is as an engineer, but I am trying to find something more interesting, and I thought college teaching could be interesting and rewarding.
    I would suggest you start as an in-person adjunct, teaching just one class while you keep your day job. See if you like it, learn a bit about what works for you re: teaching, then decide. And if your goal is teaching at a cc, most ccs require their full time faculty to have had past experience teaching at the college level, anyway.
    Use Yah Blinkah!

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    Quote Originally Posted by GarrAarghHrumph View Post
    I would suggest you start as an in-person adjunct, teaching just one class while you keep your day job. See if you like it, learn a bit about what works for you re: teaching, then decide. And if your goal is teaching at a cc, most ccs require their full time faculty to have had past experience teaching at the college level, anyway.
    I do have experience teaching part time courses at a university and I taught one course at another college.

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