Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Power Adjuncting

I mentioned before that in addition to teaching one course I'm working this summer in a mentoring role for first-term online instructors at old U. I'm assigned to two of them, an instructor of psychology and an instructor of economics. This involves email interchanges, sharing certain announcements and teaching documents, occasional phone conversation, and three formative evaluations throughout the term. In a recent phone conversation with the instructor of economics, he told me about a colleague from his M.A. program who has been power-adjuncting for a couple of years. The power adjunct, so I'm told, taught 16 online courses per term for who knows how many unwitting universities en route to earning close to $300,000 in one year. That would make this person's FTE, oh, between 11 and 12? Obviously, this involves torturous paces and is more possible where courses are flatly transactional, even where assessment follows a reductive circuit from the textbook to multiple-choice examination. Not the most sustainable career choice, but at 300K, a hyperactive part10-timer could work for only a couple of years before retiring comfortably (while teaching only two or three courses per term for groceries).

Yes, it is scandalous. Equally scandalous are the "university" systems that make the conditions for bloat-load teaching possible. There is more lore to this effect: stories of some low-lying part-timer in California who, with ties to just four different institutions, teaches online and earns six figures doing it (not 300k, but more like 100k). Something about it intrigues me, makes me wonder at the possibilities. No, no, not that I'd ever want to try it (300k...), but I'm anxiously waiting for someone else to write a monograph comparable to Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed, only this time taking the exposé to the credit-hour-farmers who heft the virtual load, like day-workers at online Labor Ready, but instead of getting exploited, they get rich (well, okay, exploited and rich).

Bookmark and Share Posted by at July 11, 2007 9:35 PM to Academe