How to Work from Home: Interview with an Online College Professor

Thanks for joining us, Dave! What do you do?

I work entirely from home as an online adjunct for three colleges: Western Piedmont Community College, Morganton, NC, Isothermal Community College, Spindale, NC, and Excelsior College, Albany, NY. All classes are online, either via Moodle or Blackboard, which are online learning communities.

What’s your background and experience in this field?

I hold a doctorate in Education (Ed. D.), a Specialist I in Higher Education/Teaching Religious Studies (Ed. S.), a masters in Religion/Biblical Studies (M. A. + 60 additional hrs.), a B. A. in Religion/Humanities, and the graduate certificates (15-18 hrs): global studies, online teaching and learning / global education, and sociology. I have 16 years teaching experience in Higher Education.

Do you work part-time or full-time?

The time and course load is full-time, but because it is spread out over three colleges, the pay is part-time. My main job is confidential, like being a 00# agent for MI6; the code for the project is dTd.

So college professor is just your cover. Gotcha.  Did the government set you up pretty with these colleges or did you have to find your own work?

I got started by asking around; I also needed something to do after quitting my last job.

As they say, necessity is the mother of invention.  I’m not surprised that networking was key in your job search. Did you ever think about going to work at a physical college instead of an online university?

I prefer to work from home; going to and fro between work and home is a great waste of time and gas!

I couldn’t agree more! How is teaching online different from teaching face to face?

It’s almost entirely different. Let me give you some examples:

1. Teaching online is more time consuming than onsite.

2. You can not be unprepared and teach online, unless you wish to appear as a jerk to students.

3. Instructors often “teach” onsite classes on the fly when pressed for time. This is not possible in an online situation.

4. Most online courses need to be complete before the semester begins. This is not the case with onsite courses, although it should be.

5. Synchronous (chat, DimDim, eluminate, and all video or audio chat) is bad for fully online courses; it should be reserved for sporadic adventures for onsite courses.

6. You can preserve the time and space compression features of online classes by making all assignments, forums, and activities asynchronous.

What suggestions do you have for someone who wants to become an online professor?

Be prepared for low pay, since beginning positions are typically part-time/adjunct faculty. Your contract is year-to-year so you don’t have much job security or recourse.

The best thing to do is to look for a full-time or 3/4 time (with benefits) academic job, and then talk the department head into allowing you to do it online.  If your department head isn’t convinced that a fully online course is possible, turning an onsite class into hybrid course by offering online discussions, quizzes and assessments online, as well as lectures and readings online is the next best thing.

Thank you for taking time to talk today. I really appreciate you letting us take a look at how you work from home.

You’re welcome, Judith!

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