Monday, February 27, 2017
I am preparing one of the final classes I will be teaching for an online for-profit university. I say “one of the final” because the institution is circling the drain, and I was only offered two classes from them in the last twelve months. This may well be my last class overall, and I cannot say that I am sorry to see this University go from my stable of schools.
Generally, as the student loan boondoggle has dried up and student enrollment continues to plummet, non-profits have consistently demanded greater performance from their instructors. Their behavior makes perfect sense—online adjuncts are fungible and will do anything for the ever-decreasing paycheck. The pay per class is today slightly less than it was ten years ago, but the expectations for performance are much, much greater.
You may be thinking, “Well, that must be a good thing! We should demand high performance from educators.” You probably think the university expectations come from higher standards of, say, continuing education in the instructor’s subject matter expertise, or greater emphasis on academic rigor. You would be wrong.
No, the high expectations come in the form of “student engagement,” which means making super-vapid and up-beat “welcome to class” videos. Now, as an introverted sperg, I would rather be boiled in acid than try to be perky on camera. I can talk for hours about my areas of concentration, but the schools do not want that. They want me to “be encouraging.” And smile!
The purpose of these videos is to put at ease the target demographic of online for-profit universities—mainly women and minorities. This demographic already eschews the written word for videos, so it makes sense from a marketing perspective that these schools want to project more a “World Star Hip Hop” rather than a “Project Gutenberg” vibe. It still rankles me, however. While we may not be able to help them, we shouldn’t be actively trying to hurt them, and it hurts them to continually pander to their underclass vices instead of trying to (however imperfectly) inculcate in them middle class values.
But I am not being paid to think. I am being paid to pander, and pander I shall. Yo, yo, yo, your best friend da professor in da house!