I read Harvest Moon's beautiful essay "Quitting an Adjunct Career" with both sadness and a sense of familiarity. Like Harvest, I also trained as a sociologist, and have taught numerous sociology courses outside of the tenure track. Like Harvest, I also made the decision to not engage in further adjunct teaching - as the rewards for doing so have become inadequate to the opportunity costs inherent in the incredibly time and energy consuming task of teaching. And like Harvest, I also deeply miss the many joys of teaching.
Perhaps it is due to the fact that I started my career in the classroom (as a visiting professor) and migrated into educational technology that I've always paid particular attention to my colleagues off the tenure track. The adjuncts, part-timers, and visitors that I've worked with on over the years have all been committed educators. And I tried to treat them all like the academic V.I.P.'s that they are, lavishing as much edtech attention on these colleagues as I could muster.
As a whole, learning designers and educational technologists are blind to the particular title that an instructor happens to bear when she comes to work with us on a course. From tenured to adjunct, assistant professor to part-timer, what matters to us is not your title or employment class, but your passion for teaching and your willingness to experiment.
Learning designers and educational technologist may work with faculty, but in the end we identify with the students. Our mandate is to improve learning on campus, not to conform the expenditure of our energy around one's position in the academic pecking order. An adjunct instructor might not get as nice an office (if any office) or even enjoy the certainty of a paycheck in the following year, but he is going to get the same level of service and attention from his local educational technology group as that newly chaired full professor.
I wonder if Harvest ever had the occasion to seek out and partner with her local learning designer / educational technologist?
And I wonder if most of our adjunct and part-time colleagues are quite aware of all the services available from the people who work at the campus teaching and learning center or academic technology unit.
A persistent issue across learning/technology groups is that we are often better at course design than marketing. We don't do enough to advertise that our campus includes people employed to work with you on your classes, assist you in the appropriate leveraging of technology, and partner with you to translate your teaching goals into assignments, activities and exercises.
How many campus edtech groups put on their websites, or hang up posters, with words to the effect "we love adjuncts, come in and let us invest time and resources in your class"?
No doubt that the learn/tech people should be more proactive in seeking out our adjunct colleagues, but until that happens you should come and find us.
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