In which a veteran of cultural studies seminars in the 1990s moves into academic administration and finds himself a married suburban father of two. Foucault, plus lawn care.
This is one of those issues that seems simple enough conceptually, but is really hard to execute well. I’m hoping that some folks out there have cracked the code in a useful and transferable way.
For the usual budgetary reasons, we have to rely on a substantial number of adjunct faculty. (We actually do the same thing in other parts of the college, too, except there we call the part-timers “consultants.”) While some adjuncts come and go fairly quickly, many of them teach here for years. Since they’re on the front lines with students, we’d like to make sure that they are current and engaged in discussions of classroom technology, pedagogy, assessment, classroom management, and similar issues.
Over the years, though, when we’ve done workshops for which they were paid to attend, attendance has often been light. That’s particularly true for folks who aren’t brand new hires. That’s probably inevitable, given the diversity of work and life schedules among adjunct faculty, but it’s discouraging.
It’s possible to run workshops on different days and times, of course, and we’ve done some of that. But you start to thin-slice your population when you do that, and there’s a fresh cost to each new workshop. Eventually the marginal utility of one more workshop gets low enough that it just isn’t worth running.
In a perfect world, of course, we’d have enough money that this wouldn’t be a problem. But this isn’t a perfect world. So within the fiscal parameters that actually exist, we’re trying to find a more effective way to reach significant numbers of adjunct faculty.
I should clarify: this isn’t about fixing problems. It’s about helping good people do what they do, better.
Any given time of day, or day of week, is impossible for a significant number of people. The same is true of summers, or any given point during the semester. We’ve tried.
So this is where I’m hoping someone has developed, or tripped over, something useful. Wise and worldly readers, has anyone seen (or developed) a way to reach significant numbers of adjunct faculty with something useful? Preferably something that doesn’t involve spending money we don’t have?
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