This portfolio artifact attempts to expand the conversation beyond my experiences by engaging with other adjuncts regarding their experiences teaching in the online learning environment.

Talking with Adjuncts about Juggling Teaching Remotely for Multiple Institutions

Introduction

In conjunction with preparing my Module for Adjuncts: Juggling Teaching Remotely for Multiple Institutions, I conducted interviews of fellow adjuncts via Zoom during February and March 2021. The based questions asked of each interviewee were as follows:

 

  1. How long have you taught as an adjunct?

  2. What schools do you regularly teach for?

  3. What classes do you teach or have you taught?

  4. Do you teach face-to-face, hybrid, online (synchronously or asynchronously)?

  5. What email system(s) do you use (e.g., Outlook versus Google) and how do you manage multiple school emails?

  6. What LMS(s) do you use (e.g., Blackboard versus Canvas)?

  7. Do you have to also use campus portals (e.g., like an SIS)?

  8. Do you use Zoom? Does the school provide a Zoom license?

  9. What other ed-tech do you use/have you used?

  10. How do you receive tech help for your school(s)?

  11. Have you ever requested/received department/institutional support?

 

Interestingly, only one of the four adjuncts I spoke with was willing to be named. The remaining three either specifically voiced concerns that their institutions might not be pleased with their comments or simply asked to remain anonymous. The first interviewee is a full-time professor for a traditional brick-and-mortar liberal arts school but also teaches as an adjunct for a fully online college. The second interviewee is retired from a 40-year career in corporate and academic jobs now teaching as an adjunct for two institutions. The third interviewee is a doctoral candidate currently teaching concurrent credit classes for a local institution as well as for a small private college. Finally, the fourth interviewee is a former department chair now teaching fully online for two colleges. Despite casting a wide net at all four institutions I regularly teach for, I did not receive any volunteers who share my experience – non-graduate-student teacher piecing together full-time employment across multiple institutions. While I don’t believe I’m a rare bird, I was unable to interview/observe anyone teaching in circumstances similar to my own. Nevertheless, the interviewees offered their opinions and experiences on juggling teaching at multiple institutions.

Common Theme: Lack of Support

All four interviewees have experience teaching in traditional face-to-face settings but shifted to asynchronous teaching due to COVID. Interestingly, none of the four hold any classes synchronously via a virtual meeting app like Zoom. In fact, none of their schools provide Zoom licensing. One interviewee explained that he’s held one-on-one meetings with students via his personal Zoom account, keeping meetings under the free 40-minute mark. Another explained that she records lecture videos using StreamYard, publishes them as “unlisted” on YouTube, then shares them via the school’s LMS.

 

Officially, all instruction takes place in the respective school’s LMS. Three of the four use Canvas at one school with either Blackboard or Brightspace at another. The fourth, who teaches the concurrent credit classes, uses Blackboard and Google Classroom. She applauded the ability to use Google Meet within Google Classroom when synchronous meetings were necessary. Notably, she’s a Google Certified Educator, a certification she acquired on her on time/dime.

 

All four interviewees agreed that despite the shift to remote teaching, their schools have not provided any additional support/access. One interviewee explained that funds are limited even for full-time professors and that one of his institutions will not allow recurring charges so ed-tech subscriptions aren’t allowed. He also mentioned that he asked for support as an adjunct once and was given a “hard no.” Another interviewee explained that when he asked for permission to share the content of a course he helped develop, the process was a “struggle.” Finally, another explained that remote adjuncts “kind of get lost” in our institutions.

Conclusion: Teaching is Worth It

Despite acknowledging the struggles of teaching in less than ideal circumstances, all four interviewees seemed excited to talk about their classes and the act of teaching itself. They all seemed to approach the profession of teaching as doing a service and even to have embraced teaching online as a means to improve literacy, engagement, and relationships.