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3 Reasons Why EdTech Should Stand With Adjuncts

Learning, trust and influence.

January 12, 2016
 

I write this post as a call to my edtech profession to stand with our adjunct faculty colleagues.

As John Warner writes in The Adjunct Solution, the issue at hand is actually quite simple. Contingent faculty should be paid a fair wage for their labor.

What would it mean for the edtech profession to support the adjunct cause for a living wage? I’m not really sure (we should discuss), but I can think of a few ideas.

What about a statement from EDUCAUSE, OLC, WCET, UPCEA, ISTE, The eLearning Guild, AECT, AACE, IEEE TCTL, SALT (who am I missing?) affirming that adjunct faculty should be paid a fair wage? Maybe we could even come up with one statement that all of these member organizations could sign.

How about we put speakers and sessions about faculty labor market issues on to the agendas of our national conferences?

Our edtech journals could feature some articles about faculty labor market dynamics, getting us all up-to-speed on the history, language, and debates in this area.

Why should the edtech profession support our adjunct colleagues?

1 - Learning:

Those of us who work at in learning technology like to stress the “learning” side of our profession. We are always talking about how technology is only a tool, a means and a bridge, and the real goal is learning.

Supporting our faculty colleagues - all of our colleagues including contingent faculty - is the best possible route to improved learning. As Betsy Smith says in a comment to John’s post: "Faculty working conditions=student learning conditions.

All of our rhetoric around learning in the edtech profession rings hollow until we stand with educators. Any digital learning strategy that does not put the relationship between faculty and students at its center is short-sighted and ultimately self-defeating.

2 - Trust:

Is innovation in teaching and learning being limited by a lack of trust? Are faculty, including contingent faculty, hesitant to embrace new technology-enabled teaching methods and practices out of a concerns around de-professionalization and substitution?

Innovation in higher education moves at the speed of trust. If we want to figure out how to leverage technology to improve student learning then we will need to earn the confidence of (all) the faculty.

An authentic, sustained, and creative commitment to back fair pay for adjunct faculty would go a long way building that relationship.

3 - Influence:

If our edtech profession is to have a strategic impact on direction of postsecondary education then we will need to expand our scope of influence. Our knowledge and expertise on learning technology should inform, but not limit, the strategies that we develop. Creating a seat at the table to contribute to all aspects institutional leadership must be our goal.

One method to gain greater influence (or mindshare) in the debates and discussions of higher education is to support / contribute to ideas, causes and strategies that are contiguous to our primary work. We should be in discussions about institutional sustainability and educational affordability.  We should have thoughts and opinions about every aspect that challenges and confounds those in academic leadership positions.

Standing with our adjunct faculty colleagues would be a visible and meaningful pathway to participation beyond the traditional sphere of influence for our edtech profession.

How do we get started?

 

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