About Me

Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are I am all about. I hope through this blog to both guide others and travel myself across disciplines, borders, theories, languages, and cultures in order to create connections to knowledge around the world. I teach at the University level in the areas of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology.

Monday, November 18, 2013

#Adjunctchat Nov. 19: Ways to change / control the work environment

Over the last few months there are number of things we have learned in #adjunctchat:

1) There are basically 5 different types of adjuncts based on the reason they adjunct. I like to refer to them as: traditional (augments full-time job), professional (they make their living adjuncting at numerous sites), transitional (hoping to transition into a full time job), TA (pays for their graduate education), and online (can be any of the others, but teaches exclusively online). Each one has different needs, work environments (i.e. professional often works out of car/mobile office, traditional may have office for their full time work on campus, online may not have any face to face interaction with work environment at all), and time management pressures.

2) There is a feeling of invisibility or lack of acceptance/input within a department. For some this is a problem, for others they prefer this because they don't have additional responsibilities.

3) There is a lack of permanence which makes adjuncts reluctant to speak up within a department. Likewise, most work is defined by the department and the relationship most adjuncts have are with their departments.

In an article by Gary Rhodes in Thought & Action, Fall 2013 (not yet available online), "Disruptive Innovations for Adjunct Faculty: Common Sense for the Common Good" he gives 3 suggestions for creating a collective adjunct voice, starting at the dept. level. Two of these suggestions we are doing with #adjunctchat: create virtual visibility. He also suggests creating a "hiring hall" in which adjuncts share knowledge about adjuncting. The more information we know, the more ideas we can generate to improve our working conditions.

So, what can we change and how should we go about it?

Here are some possibilities (some from the article, some from my own diverse background at different institutions):

1) Just in time hiring: Ask dept to put teachers names on courses, not "staff"
2) Have database/online source for syllabi that adjuncts can access
3) Have office space with full-time faculty (this has helped the "invisibility" factor).
4) Have faculty working lunch/dinner meetings that include adjuncts
5) Create "real world" partnerships between working adjuncts and faculty
6) Create hiring clusters so long term adjuncts can move across depts when needed
7) Create more virtual spaces for adjuncts, faculty, and researchers to "meet".
8) Advocate focus groups, research funding, travel funds, and administrative training opportunities for adjuncts.
9) Set work boundaries including "online office hours" to limit work to paid time.
10) Keep personnel files and faculty data sheets updated.
11) Have access to dept letterhead for formal work related correspondence
12) Have access to support services and resources

This is just a few and hopefully we can come up with some more.

So we will be discussing these questions tomorrow at 4:00 EST:

1) What are some things you'd like to change about your work environment?
2) What are some strategies you can use to make those changes?
3) Who can you enlist to help make those changes?
4) What resources will be needed to make those changes?
5) How will those changes affect the work you do?

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