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?

Monday, July 1, 2013

Where Goes Digital History

Just notice that I haven't posted here since last December.  I have been keeping busy.  For example, I did navigate the course creation process at Northern Virginia CC to get approval to add a new course to the history offerings at the college, Introduction to Digital History.  My next chore will be to get that approved as an online offering.  I have also been updating my work as a Chancellor's professor.  Wish I could be doing more, but I have been side-tracked by the realities of the need to coordinate our history schedule both on campus and online and also the need to find and hire new adjuncts.

On the DH front, I am struck by how much talk there is of data, and this is a tough call for a historian to make the realization that the discipline might be going in a data direction instead of just a read and interpret documents.  Over a hundred years ago, Marx tried to put history on a scientific footing with his study of economics.  I wonder if the new crop of digital historians might succeed where he failed.