How do I write this post without outing myself? If you guess who we are, just pretend we’re Batman and don’t tell anyone. If you’re my boss, #2 wrote this. I couldn’t stop her.
#2 says: You won’t out yourself–schools all over the country (including mine!) are embracing online education as a money maker when education funds are being cut. We already have a number of graduate courses online, just not ones I teach.
My department wants to start an online master’s degree program that will be self-support (i.e., for profit). We have a small enough faculty that it’s hard-to-impossible to hide in the woodwork, so I’ll have to have something to say about this. Personally, I’m against the idea. I don’t think that for our field an online degree is worth anything, and I didn’t go to grad school so I could be in a for-profit industry. (Having worked there briefly once, I hated it.)
HOWEVER, embracing evil is the only way to get a COLA increase around here, so I agreed to develop and teach an online course. Not just any online course. An online graduate course. They’re giving me cash moneys to do it: the carrot.
With the carrot is its accompanying stick. If I refuse to teach in the program, what then? Do I get no COLA when everyone else gets one? The department says it won’t be mandatory to participate, but I anticipate much social pressure.
There is no way to get my dept out of doing this. We had interminable meetings. Those against the idea (a few junior people who relatively recently graduated from excellent PhD programs) were steamrolled by the majority in favor, which is how the process is supposed to work anyway, so oh well for me. The chair is for it. I didn’t fight at the first signs of this happening because I’m an untenured cog and because I thought I wouldn’t stick around long enough for this plan to come to fruition, but I’ve gotten settled here. Oops. If only the job market wasn’t so bad. If this gets implemented, it may be close to a deal-breaker for me.
I want money. Especially since there is no travel budget and I’m trying for tenure. But graduate education does not belong online in most fields (this point is NOT open for discussion right here right now; maybe in another post), and trust me when I say that it does not belong online for the class I’ve been assigned, even if you could make an argument for the core (which in my field, you really can’t).
It’s possible that the whole thing will die because nobody wants to be in charge of it– there is no prospect of release time or extra cash for the person in charge of training and supervising the proposed legion of online adjuncts and the organization of the whole program, at least not in the first year or two. Eventually supposedly the profit will pay for this person. The senior people have refused and the junior people would have to be idiots to do it.
It would be one thing if I’d chosen to work at a for-profit like University of Phoenix: I’d know what I was getting into and so would the students and their employers, but I work at a public school. I didn’t sign up for this. When I interviewed, I expressed enthusiasm at the thought of starting a(nother) graduate program, but at the time they weren’t thinking it would be for-profit.
Will my professional reputation suffer? If I’m ashamed to tell my graduate adviser about this, what does that say?
Does your school have online graduate education? Would you sell your “last tiny shreds of self-respect” for money?