Presentation on theme: "Faculty Dissatisfaction with Online E-Campus Education at Oregon State University AAUP State Conference Meeting Portland State University April 5-6 2013."— Presentation transcript:
Faculty Dissatisfaction with Online E-Campus Education at Oregon State University AAUP State Conference Meeting Portland State University April Dwaine Plaza Professor of Sociology School of Public Policy Oregon State University
Introduction to Online Education Online education is here to stay, just as the internet and the cell phone. Online courses serve well the part of the public that have no easy access to a university -- people who work many hours, individuals with children, people who live far away from universities and cannot move. One of the benefits of online courses is that the instructor becomes decentralized: students learn as much from each other as they do from the instructor as they work through the material together. This model of online growth is premised on changing the rules of the game in how the education is delivered and by whom.
Growth of Online Education at Oregon State University Oregon State University has been offering programs at a distance for decades, with roots tracing back to the 1930s as the General Extension Division. OSUs first full distance degree program was offered in Liberal Studies via correspondence and video in the 1980s. OSU E-campus, as the unit exists now, began delivering degree programs and courses online in OSU E-campus is consistently ranked among the nation's top 25 providers of online education for the quality and strength of its programs. In each of the last two years, Ecampus was placed in the top 10 nationally – including No. 8 for the school year by SuperScholar.
Growth of Online Education at Oregon State University Online Course/Program offerings: Over 800 credit courses are available online in over 80 subjects 13 undergraduate degree programs and 19 undergraduate minors 15 graduate programs (some hybrid) Partner with 10 OSU academic colleges Partner with nearly 500 faculty members annually Student Demographics (distance students): Approximately 60% of distance students are women Approximately 30% of distance students are Oregon residents Average age of distance students is 33 Of the 11,298 students in E-campus courses, 3,913 (35%) were distance students Of the 109,836 E-campus credit hours, 55,434 (50%) were taken by distance students Distance students enrolled from all 50 states and from over 30 countries
Why is OSU Preferable for Obtaining an Online Degree? OSU is a more popular option for online education than the University of Phoenix or Capella University because we come with a long 100+ year reputation and accreditation that is recognized across the country. A student completing their entire degree online at OSU will receive the same degree (piece of paper) as someone who completes her/his degree on campus. There is no indication on a transcript that a student has completed all or part of her/his degree through doing it on online at OSU. The individuals degree is accredited as an OSU degree.
The Hegemony of Ecampus at OSU Online education began as something that involved paying tenure track faculty to develop classes that were offered in class. The faculty was paid $3500 dollars to develop the substance of the course and given the help of a web developer. Adjuncts were not allowed to develop courses. Faculty were required to sign a contract indicating their online course is the possession of the E-Campus--once they take the $3500 dollars for developing the class. The faculty member was obligated to teach the course a minimum of 3 times. The online class could then be turned over to an adjunct faculty member or graduate student. It became up to the department chair to determine how often and when the course would be offered. At first the faculty at OSU was paid by the number of students in their class. Initially this could be quite lucrative (4-5 years) for faculty who used this payment model as a way to supplement their salary. We witnessed some faculty increasing their salary by 20-30% based on teaching online each term and in the summer session.
The Hegemony to Departments at OSU Departments have become dependent/ addicted to the E-campus money that is generated by online classes because some of the overhead comes back to the departments. With the state cutting back on funding to the universityonline education has been seen as a cash cow. E-campus has become the drug of choice. There is now hegemony built into the system to encourage faculty to teach online as the way to supplement the departments revenue to pay for photocopies, office supplies, travel money, salaries, or any other funds. Adjuncts are being required to teach online as a way to pay for their position, without benefits. Departments have been given financial incentives to offer complete majors online. There is little discussion of assessment or accreditation of these online classesthe online classes live in the shadows and because the department is accredited its assumed that the online classes are by default also accredited. Adjunct faculty are now being brought in from across the nation to teach online classes. These individuals are cyber teachers who cull together a series of classes to make a living wage They have little connection to departments and have no benefits.
Major Changes in the Administration and Funding of Online E-Campus Classes In the past year there has been a change in the funding model. Faculty no longer get paid by the number of students enrolled in their class. They are now paid at a flat rate and given class minimum that equates to twice the amount they are getting paid. With the salary caps and high student enrollment it means that adjunct faculty teach online classes that generate enough money to pay their salary and provides a surplus for the department. There is now talk about limiting the amount of online teaching tenured faculty can do. Inevitably this will mean that adjuncts will be taking over classes online that still need to be taught – since there is now a demand for them. There has been an increasing trend in the use of adjuncts to take over the courses that were originally developed by tenure track faculty. The tenured faculty members name stays on the course but its now being administered by graduate students.
Hegemony and its Effects on Students Enrolled for Online Classes at OSU Due to on campus access issues, students have no real choice but to turn to online sections. Online classes at OSU cost more per credit hour for students to take. The logic is the need to provide E-campus resource, which now offers online writing centers, advising, technological support, etc. There has been a push to encourage student athletes to take online classes to accommodate their travel schedules they have had mixed success. Online classes keep them eligible. Most athletes do very poorly in these classesgetting C & D grades-- just passing– football/basketball. Minority students are also encouraged to do online classes. Many lack the support base at home to be successful in these classes that require a great deal of individualism (Math, Science) We have very little control over knowing the students onlineto perpetrate fraud/ dishonesty all a student needs is a user name and blackboard password and they can be someone else. Student recommendation letters from faculty are awkward to write for online relationships.
Book Publishers Encourage the Online Delivery of Classes There is a trend of outsourcing of the development of entire online lower Intro level courses that are textbook specific and canned by book publishers. McDonalization of the Educational online model is also being driven by Book Publishers. Publishers have begun to offer online Tutoring and Quizzes 24/7 if we adopt their text book and use their online canned course content to run E-campus classes. This option is very seductive to universities that are trying to get into the online game late. The publishers are contributing to the deskilling of teaching creativity and making faculty redundant. Adopting one of their book packages means that all you need is a grader (grad student) for the material that comes in. Students independently work through modules. Online class sizes can be increased by using a canned package from a book company.
Statewide AAUP Issues Related to E-Campus Trends We need to make sure in all future bargaining that faculty keep intellectual control of online classes they develop. We need to force administrations to see beyond the bottom line (revenue grab) and look at online programs as a means of providing quality education to people who would otherwise not be able to access it. We need to support Adjunct faculty who are currently teaching in the online ghetto. They should not have to become exploited cyber faculty who are forced to cull together piece work assignments at different institutions to make a living wage. We need to support a pedagogically sound faculty/ student online ratio. 1:25 seems like a reasonable maximum ceiling for teaching online classes. Class ratios above 1:25 should mean additional sections offered or allowing faculty to teach online classes in load.