Professors Not

Professors on social media are getting extremely pissy when people think (or professors assume that people think) that they are choosing online teaching because it’s easier.

But of course it’s easier. For one, all of the service obligations are simply gone thanks to our move online. Service obligations mean academic self-governance and it’s completely gone.

Here’s one example. At this time of year, we always welcome prospective students and their parents to campus. It’s a big multi-day event where we meet the future students, talk to them about our programs, invite them to classes, answer questions, and explain how our programs work. It’s a big time investment but I used to love it because it really helps you get the information out and engage with future students in person.

Now it’s all gone. The admissions office is handling the online version of this activity. Professor’s were told we aren’t needed.

And it’s all like that.

All you need to do is hold your Zoom meetings for 9 hours a week, grade… and that’s it. It’s humanly impossible to spend more than 15 hours a week doing this stuff. With a full-time salary and great benefits, what’s not to like? It’s like a long sabbatical with no need to produce publications at the end.

It’s the truth and I’m not ashamed to say it.

9 thoughts on “Professors Not”

  1. I find it takes a long time to create online activities, grade online, manage the various technical glitches to Zooming, etc., and it’s very exhausting. It is a lot easier to do in person and less time consuming.

    It’s very worrisome how self governance is virtually GONE. However I’m on a fancy committee now and it is really interesting how it isn’t self governance, it’s a simulacrum thereof, the administration has given it a playbook and chosen a chair to have us walk through it.


    1. Yep. Anything that even remotely looked like self-governance is gone. We were supposed to be working on bringing our operational papers into compliance with the collective bargaining agreement. It’s a ton of work but it’s very important. Now the administration did it for us and we were simply informed. No input, no discussion, everybody’s happy. The union is fixated on COVID testing and has no interest in how the administration creatively interpreted the CBA. And it’s one of many things.

      And does anybody care? Me and a few old-timers. Everybody else is happy.


  2. Also: 9 hours of class, and for 3 classes 6 hours of preparation AND grading per week (1 hour of preparation and 1 of grading per class)? I don’t believe you, not unless you are doing something by rote and you have exercises that are on autograde or something. And: no office hours? No independent projects, no theses, no dissertations, no . . . ?


    1. Honestly, who spends six hours preparing? I always design completely new courses even for those that I teach every year because I’m bored otherwise. And there’s still nothing like this amount of preparation. I design all of my own tests and grade everything myself but it doesn’t take anything like this amount of time.

      Office hours? What does it mean in a Zoom context? I wish I had students who’d regularly made use of the office hours but that never happens.

      I’m Chair and I barely have anything to do now that the schedules and the contracts are in.


  3. Six hours preparing and grading for nine hours of classes isn’t very much. If you meet twice a week it is an hour preparing / grading for each course one off day and another hour for each on the other off day and I guess, since that in this model seem like a lot, office hours could be fit into that time also. So: work on teaching 3 hours M W, 4.5 hours TR. YES I have done this some weeks of my life, but then there’s service and independent projects / theses and research. And mostly, to be able to get away with putting that little time into teaching, you’ve got to have put in a whole lot of time ahead of time, at some other point in time, to get all of your things set up.

    My university imagines you must spend 5 hours outside class for each 3 hours in, making 3 classes 24 total hours. It used to calculate 9 hours outside for each 3 in, making 3 classes 36 hours. I’d say 15-20 hours per week is about right for me to do a course right, a course with new reading that’s writing intensive and that I’m really doing well. I don’t have that much time, of course, so I don’t always do all the things. I’d be happier if I could/did. I can wing it but I don’t like it.


  4. I find online teaching takes up far more time than f2f teaching. I prefer online to masked and immobile teaching so I continue to deliver my classes largely online. From taping lectures, to writing out things that would normally just take a quick verbal direction, everything just takes more time. Good online teaching also requires reimagining your class delivery almost entirely. If I were to stay online forever (shudder!), it would eventually get easier. But for now, it’s time consuming. The only thing I have saved time on is my commute. I long for normal, non-masked f2f teaching. This hasn’t been remotely like a sabbatical.

    As for shared governance, yes it is disappearing. But this has nothing to do with the fact that some faculty are holding online committee meetings. Administrators are stepping in and unilaterally making decisions and taking advantage of the “COVID crisis”: cutting budgets, changing enrollment dates etc. etc.

    Faculty can be annoying and dramatic but they aren’t lazy.


    1. Online is also more exhausting. I usually love conferencing with students about their papers and find it an energizing process. But having several online paper conferences in a row is uniquely draining and I’m not entirely sure why.


  5. Teaching online is a LOT MORE work than in person, at least it is the first time you do it. But if I’m online in the spring again, then I’ll already have all of my materials ready, and then it will be relatively little work.


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