Wednesday, December 12, 2012

How I Got a Job Teaching Online

When Q was a baby, I applied to a bunch of online teaching positions. I didn't have any funding for the year, couldn't teach because I was home with Q (who was born at the very beginning of the semester), we were surviving on one income in NYC and I was hoping, at some point, to be able to afford childcare (do you see a theme in my writing? When you have children and have a full-time job and, yes, writing a dissertation falls under this umbrella, you need childcare). I didn't get any of the positions. I don't think I even heard back from them.

Two years later, I asked a friend of mine, who had successfully landed some online teaching positions, how she did it. Eventually, with her advice, I began to re-apply. I made an Excel spreadsheet of all the adjunct positions for which I applied and, according to it, in December 2011, I applied for 2 positions at brick-and-mortar schools (that's the lingo, now you know). I landed a part-time position teaching two classes at a local community college. It was awesome. They even mentioned me joining full-time at some point. I took a free class they offered for faculty hoping to teach in their online program. Then, they announced that they were massively in-debt and the full-time faculty had to increase their workloads and they stopped bringing in adjuncts. So, in May 2012, I applied to 10 online teaching positions, for community colleges, 4 year colleges, and for-profit colleges. Eventually, I heard back from one (yes, just one) - a for-profit - and they hired me. Well, ever since if you ignore the month long orientation I had to pass before I was officially assigned a class.

Anyway, I've decided to pass on all I have learned about applying for and working at a for-profit online program. (Be aware, however, that the for-profit education industry is shrinking due to increased regulation by the federal government, but, if you are hoping to work from home, it might be your best bet.) Here goes:

The best website to see who is looking is: but the Chronicle of Higher Ed or even a simple google search works. Here are some major for-profit schools and you can easily search their websites: American InterContinental, Southern New Hampshire, Nova Southeastern, Capella, Ashford, Walden, and Grantham. Of course, there is also the U of Phoenix, but they don't pay that well. Most of these schools have short semesters, such as 5-10 weeks and pretty much go on a rolling basis all year long. I started with one course a semester, was given two this semester (my 4th teaching for them), and you max at with three classes a semester.

I lucked out with the school that hired me because they were re-structuring their general education requirements. I *think* that a lot of the schools will be doing this to help stay relevant with all the increased regulation.

For-profits largely have a template for each class, they want us to be facilitators, not just teachers (although, as I mentioned in the post about my weekly schedule, I give one weekly lecture per class. It is archived for students unable to attend). Buzz words: asynchronous (meaning students and teachers interact via the discussion board at disparate times) and synchronous (we're all in one place at one time, ie for a video lecture).  Our biggest responsibilities are being active on the Discussion Boards by asking leading questions and making sure we get the grades in on time. Most schools have weekly assignments, which must be graded by a certain day each week. For example, every week, students must have their discussion board posts and a separate essay in by Sunday night and I need to have them graded by the following Wednesday. I do not write the syllabus, assignments, or grading percentages; they are all given to me.

If you are interested in teaching online, I would cast your net wide. Once you get the job, it could still be 2 months before you see a paycheck as most schools will have you complete a 3-4 week orientation. Also, remember to talk up both your online teaching experience and your willingness to try new things. Have you taught mature students? That's a bonus as many online students are military and/or those with full-time jobs and/or families.  For-profit schools are corporations and act like such. I have a faculty manager, department manager, and mentor. How many classes I teach or if I teach is based on reviews by my faculty manager, my mentor, and my student evaluations. We have 1 departmental meeting a term and 1 with the faculty manager. I need to complete certain continuing ed criteria (for free through a company they work with) each quarter. Overall, though, it has become easier as I've worked hard on streamlining my grading rubric. 

Let me know if you have any more questions! Even if you don't have online experience, someone will let you in the door.

No comments:

Post a Comment