Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Faculty v. Staff in the online world

We've run distance education for decades now, and we've been online for at least a decade, and I've been involved in online ed for a lot of years now.  First, in the last five years we have dramatically expanded our distance enrollment options.  There are many factors that explain that focus from the administration to increase online enrollment:  limited classroom supply; perceived in-expense, need to find more enrollment, etc. 

So we've added a lot of courses and a lot of instructors (many of whom are, quite frankly, not suited to teaching online).  That has lead to a huge growth of staff to make it all work.  Let's just say that maybe we've gone from 12 support staff to 80, and everything has become bureaucratized with staff.  That, of course, means a lot more staff expense, which, means, in turn, that we need a lot more enrollment to support the staff and still grow, and to get more enrollment, we need to offer more courses, but to offer more courses, we need to have more staff.  It is very Kafkaesque--and if you walked through the sea of cubicles where most of our staff are now lodged, you would feel as if you were walking through one of Kafka's settings.

Anyway, the title of the post is fac. v. staff.  What has happened with the great increase in staff, is that almost everything about the online teaching process is now controlled by staff decision-making, and there is almost nothing in the last year or so that has been done with faculty input.  And because staff likes to have uniformity, my impression is that courses slowly begin to resemble one another.  Now someone is going to object to that, but I'm talking impressions here.  Don't all BB courses really resemble one another?

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