I’m looking for advice from both adjuncts and those who are in permanent faculty positions. I teach and have teaching experience at several universities. I’m fresh off of a great Virtually Connecting session, where there was a brief discussion about the working conditions of Adjuncts, which has me thinking even more about this.
All the courses I teach are online courses. Sometimes I’m asked to teach (or facilitate) online classes with limited flexibility. In some cases, it is that I’m handed a class at the last minute without the time to redesign. In other cases, I’m teaching one section of many and am required to follow the curriculum (to the point of being locked out of making updates). These things would not be an issue if the courses were well designed and developed. The courses may have great frameworks, so the concepts are great, but the implementation of those concepts in the LMS is not always the greatest / most student friendly or instructor friendly.
Where I run into the question and challenge is, how much do I tell my students about the constraints I’m under when teaching? I get especially worried when these things make me look like a bad instructor and could potential affect my ratings! I really don’t want my students to confuse what I’m doing as an instructor/facilitator with the design decisions or implementation that I had little or no control over. I also run into the issue of my good teaching/facilitation making the content look poor. I’m highly aware that I bring a very unique skill-set to the table when I teach – especially when I’m teaching courses about technology and the use of technology. It is a mixed blessing. I’m good at what I do, but also, sometimes being good makes others look not-so-good and that isn’t ideal either.
I may have asked this question before. In some cases, I think I’m obligated to tell my students about the working conditions of an adjunct. In part because some of my classes involve teaching students who are potentially looking at careers in higher education.
As a full time faculty member, you have some obligation to the universities you work in. You want your students to have a positive experience in all their classes. You also do not want to undermine your colleagues. That being said, you also often get a lot more notice of which courses you will be teaching when, and you typically have a large amount of freedom over how your courses are structured / designed / taught.
As an adjunct, this is hit and miss. Some schools really want to capitalize on the experience you bring to the table. They have some flexibility in how the courses are taught. You get to decide the assignments, due dates, etc. Others, not so much. Others want your skills as a facilitator, but not as a designer. Which I suppose might be more acceptable in fields other than education. In education everyone should be good at designing instruction.
But issues with the whole adjunct process aside, the question still needs to be answered. How much should you tell your students about the constraints/environment you are operating under when you are teaching? What do you think?