February 26, 2015
The modern campus contains many more non-faculty educators than at anytime in the past. These are staff members who work directly on mission related, teaching and research, activities. Alt-academics will often partner with faculty on teaching and research tasks, tasks that were previously done by faculty alone.
The example I know best is the work of instructional designers and professionals in teaching and learning centers.Collaborative tasks with faculty may involve working together to develop learning objectives, assessment activities and methods, and active learning exercises. An instructional designer and/or teaching center professional may assist faculty in finding and deploying the right tools and technologies to help the faculty reach their teaching goals. These alt-ac folks are fluent in both learning theory and learning technology, and can complement a faculty member’s deep subject matter expertise and classroom teaching experience.
Other examples of alt-ac roles may be non-faculty academics trained in analytical or evaluative disciplines. Academically trained experts in these areas then apply these skills to assist faculty (or the institution) in course assessment and improvement.
Alt-ac professionals may also be media experts, professionals much in demand with the shift towards online and flipped teaching methodologies.
Librarians retain their own credentialing systems and professional communities, and enjoy established career paths and professional status absent from newly emergent alt-ac positions. Many library professionals, however, have both a terminal degree and library science training - and therefore occupy a liminal space between traditional library responsibilities and a new class of alt-ac positions.
There are many other alt-ac roles on campus. I hope that you take some time to enumerate them for us. What alt-alc role do you have on your campus?
What alt-ac roles seem to have in common is that they are non-faculty education positions, and that they are held by people with a diversity of academic backgrounds.
Some instructional designers or associate center directors (what other titles?) have PhDs, some do not.
Unlike academic departments where the price of admission is almost always a terminal degree, administrative units (even those with an educational or research focus) are staffed by a range of degree holders.
Can you help us better specify who should be counted as an alt-academic and who should not?
Does the job classification of “staff” or “administrator” best describe the alt-academic role?
If you are an educator on campus who is not on the faculty, what do you call yourself?
Do we have any way of counting alt-ac positions? Of making sense of how these positions have grown, and what roles have morphed (or disappeared) with the emergence of alt-ac campus professionals?
Are alt-acs something really new, or just a new description for an existing job?
Is “alt-ac” even a word? Should we be saying “alternative-academic”? Does that make faculty “mainstream-academics?” (main-acs).
Are you an alt-ac?
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