Migratory Faculty

A couple of my Web2.0 aware colleagues are also adjuncts that use personal blogs to post syllabi and conduct course discussions. They may also be using products such as, wikis, Writely  or perhaps  iRow.  My Course Management System (CMS)) roots go back to 1.1 or 1.2 of WebCT.  I have always been a strong supporter of web-based tools that help structure the learning experience. I have used them mostly in blended course design situations. 

At one time, it was also one of my responsibilities to promote the use of WebCT.  On more than one occasion, the issue of course quality or consistency within a program, would be raised.  There would be discussions regarding the balance between academic freedom, a consitent user experience, and the need for the insitution to brand the program or course.  These issues continue to be topics of discussion and now are taking a slightly new twist.

My colleague's decision to use Web2.0 sites, driven by their technological interests, as part of their instructional tool-set has opened another dimension to the issues.  I wonder how long before their approach to online instruction, i.e., using a set of loosely-coupled, web-based tools at whatever insitution they are presently instructing, becomes the norm?   How long before the pool of adjuncts, who often migrate between institutions, only use the CMS of a host institution because they must and only as jump-site to their own resources?  Clearly, this empowers the pool of adjuncts to create not only instructional content, but to use an instructional infrastructure that formally had been provided by the host institutions. 

What impact on institutional instructional quality control, as much as they exist, will this have?  How will institutions react to the commodification of the instructional experience by a migratory adjunct pool?  What policy issues will need to be revised as the walled-gardened gives way to the open range? With CMS, institutions could at least brand the experience as their own, but the adjunct who migrates, whether between Ivy or Public, with his or her own set of instructional tools will be providing essentially the same experience for their courses, regardless of where the students registered.  What additional opportunities will develop for off-shoring distance education courses?  The traditional stipend for an adjunct goes a lot further in India than in the USA.

Given higher ed.'s dependency on adjuncts, this is an interesting situation. 


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About ken

Ken is the Director of MIS and Instructional Technology at Plymouth State University where he enjoys the opportunity to work with energetic, intelligent, motivated, competent and caring colleagues to advance the integration of technology into the institutional academic and administrative environments in the effort to promote a more informed citizenry.

4 thoughts on “Migratory Faculty

  1. Ken, you raise some interesting points.

    As one of the adjuncts who have put course materials on my personal site the debate boils down to two things... Ownership and accessibility.

    By posting materials on my site I retain control and ownership over the content. My software of choice is WordPress which labels itself a "personal publishing platform" which is exactly what I use it as. I'm not writing a book anytime soon, but I can easily augment the course materials with articles of my own and links to other resources.

    The second concern is accessibility. I want to provide information to students which they will be able to refer back to long after the course has completed. WebCT courses at our institution (and probably at almost all others) are taken down sometime after the semester ends. It is my intention to maintain my site for years to come, so when a former student recognizes something and thinks "I remember seeing that in class, but I don't remember the exact solution" they will hopefully follow that up with "I bet Jon posted a blog entry about that, let me go check." At that point they even have a convenient "Contact" button where they can email me if they have a question I haven't answered online.

    I wonder if the future of "course management" will be more of a portal feel where you may provide links and RSS feeds right alongside the syllabus for CS3600, Fall '05.

  2. Pingback: Ken’s TEK (Technology, Education, and Knowledge) » Blog Archive » Migratory Faculty, Part III

  3. So I finally got around to writing what's been on my mind for a while: travel agents were largely steamrolled by Travelocity and Orbitz, we're talking about citizen journalism, is the citizen professor next? What might make higher ed immune to the forces of disintermediation that are changing everything else?

  4. I believe Higher Ed. *is* being affected by the evolving technology and changing market. We see for-profit universities, professional technical certifications, DE programs, blogger authorities, wikis, etc. Today's college and universities, at the undergraduate level, are more than just a classroom experience. They are communities of learners and the value of that real-world experience is priceless, or at least in the 30-40k/yr range. 🙂

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