And So It Begins. Again.
By P.D. Lesko
I meet with our web page programmer on a weekly basis. I can’t even begin to tell you all of the things I’ve learned about web page architecture, interactivity, design and upkeep since Ryan Sexton and I began working together almost eight years ago. During our last meeting, I commented that my 50th birthday is bearing down on me, and then said, “But you’re 30, right?” He laughed and corrected me. He’s 35. He is one of the most reliable people I’ve ever had work for me. When the server that hosts our AdjunctNation.com and Part-TimePress.com sites crashed, Ryan was able to get the site up and running. We’re still finding and correcting damage to the site from that outage, but that’s to be expected.
We were chatting about updating a particular feature to this site when Ryan suggested that we might launch a complete redesign of AdjunctNation. The site has been redesigned twice since 1992, when it launched. Each redesign has added interactivity and new features. The last major redesign included adding the Forums—one of the most visited spots on AdjunctNation.com, and opened up the article Archive. You may not have noticed it, but when you visit the Archive, you can click through to view the first 2-3 paragraphs of all more than 1,000 articles in the archive. This increased use of the archive content exponentially. We also added our own micro-payment system, AdjunctNationCredits, so that visitors can purchase individual articles securely right on our site, as opposed to using a third party micro- payment system, such as BitPass, or PayPal. The other major change was the addition of email alerts for jobseekers, and AdjunctNation Family alerts. Both of those tools allow those who opt in to receive quick updates about content added to the site, including jobs, blog entries, E-Zine updates, and posts in the Forum.
I already have lots of ideas about how I want to change AdjunctNation.com, beginning with how the front page looks and feels. As always, keeping in mind a lesson I learned many years ago from someone who is an expert in web page architecture, we’ll keep the navigation simple, and the number of clicks necessary to reach content down to a minimum. The challenge will be to organize all of the great content so that it’s simple for users to visit their favorite content on AdjunctNation.com quickly and easily.
It feels like the right time to undertake this task that will, likely, take many months because the number of visitors to the site is rising steadily. Between 2009 and 2010, AdjunctNation.com hosted 40 percent more unique visitors and served up 2-4 million pages per month. These are great indicators that the site is attracting new users, as well as providing resources useful enough to keep visitors coming back day-after-day and week-after-week.
I intend to shake-up our content mix a bit, and add what I believe will be several popular new features. As we work to design the new site, I’ll keep you posted! In the meantime, let me write a bit about this week’s content.
If I had to choose one thing to read this week…I couldn’t! There’s too much great content. Melissa McDonald, in her Adjunct By Choice blog entry, writes about the misperceptions people sometimes have when told that one teaches “part-time.” Melissa writes:
So what is this free time others speak of? My definition: A mythical period of time during which a person has absolutely nothing to do. Usually believed by nonacademic friends and family of the adjunct by choice. As we Adjuncts By Choice know, teaching part-time does not mean we have time loads of free time.
It’s not easy to explain what a “part-time” teaching appointment requires in terms of a time commitment, and Melissa’s entry is about a strategy she employed to get her relatives to understand that teaching part-time does not mean she has loads of free time on her hands. Meanwhile, in her Juggling 101 blog entry, writer Kat Kiefer-Newman posts about being called for jury duty. She is “The Luckiest Juror. Kinda.” When I first read Rich Russell’s latest Teaching in Pajamas blog entry, I was a bit disappointed by its brevity. However, in his entry he talks about the need to “go diving into the wreck,” or revisit one’s course after the semester has ended, and he does in absolutely delightful prose. The entry is as playful as it is important. I know that it takes time and some effort to revisit and evaluate a course after the semester has ended, and it’s easy to get so caught up in the demands of the new semester that the old one simply melts away. However, as Rich writes,
The professor alone must return to the wreck, to turn back on the lights and have a look around before hitting the reset button.
This is true of most endeavors, and particularly apt as I begin down the road which will lead to a redesign of this web site.
I want to thank everyone who has “liked” AdjunctNation.com thus far on Facebook, and elected to follow AdjunctNation on Twitter. The Facebook page gains a few more “likes” each day, and that it definitely the right direction! If you are on Facebook, please consider “liking” AdjunctNation. Our Facebook posts consist of letting folks know when new and interesting content is posted to AdjunctNation. This includes blog postings, jobs now and then, as well as interesting issues that come up in the Forum.
Finally, I want to encourage visitors who don’t have an E-Zine Site Pass, to consider purchasing one. The cost is minimal ($20 per year for individuals), and the rewards immeasurable. You’ll be supporting AdjunctNation.com in its extensive efforts to support you and to advocate on behalf of all adjunct faculty.
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Teach in Pajamas? Adjunct By Choice? New Adjunct? Part-Time Thoughts? Are you a very experienced adjunct faculty member? Are you an excellent writer? Would you like to share your experiences with the part-timers who read our Nation Blogs? We’re looking for bloggers. To be considered, read the blog you want to write for very carefully. Then, send a 700 word sample blog (something that you think would be perfect for the audience to [email protected]. If your sample blog knocks our socks off, we’ll be in touch.
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