Blackboard Addicts Anonymous

Hello, my name is Jodi, and I am a Blackboard addict. If they had a support group for people addicted to their online classrooms, my husband would force me to go. It seems the only time I am not online is when I am driving or sleeping. I use Blackboard as support in every face-to-face class I teach as well. I just love the online classroom.

I have worked in non-traditional education most of my adult life (I became an adult around 30), starting in the administrative side of the house at a small private University for working adults. After almost 10 years, I decided I would like to teach, so I joined the adjunct rank at the same University in 2005. I was limited to 4 classes a year as an employee/adjunct and I quickly discovered that I enjoyed my time teaching the students much more than administering to them, so what was a girl to do? When a full-time Faculty Chair position posted; I applied and I got it. I know, this is an adjunct blog. Give me a year, and I’ll be back in the adjunct fold.

I found out quickly that being the Faculty Chair was really not teaching, but academic administration of faculty. My days were spent chasing syllabi, evaluating faculty, reviewing grade appeals; this was not teaching, this was work! I might add it was not very well paid work. I did not accept my next contract and dropped back to the adjunct ranks where I still exist today. I came to the realization that if teaching is what you want to do, there is no better place than as an adjunct.

Working exclusively as an adjunct presented a few challenges for me. For one, I have my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Aeronautical Science and a Ph.D. in Higher Educational Administration. The subjects I can teach are limited, so the schools I can teach at are also limited. I also own two teenagers, complete with the accompanying food, car insurance, and college tuition bills. I do need a steady source of income.

Time to take inventory, what can I do? I can continue with the aviation and education classes but there has to be more I can teach. I speak technology and engineering and I am qualitative and mixed-methods researcher. A little web searching leads me to schools that teach qualitative methods. I also tapped my networks and found the schools where aviation professionals are pursuing advanced degrees. These schools are all online. I am not experienced with teaching online. I send out a few CVs and hear the “we want online experience” rejection line a few times. The classic how can I get experience if no one will give me a job situation.

2006 was my lucky year. Many people who teach online will say that luck plays a big role in getting the first job. I found an ad for a new online university that was opening in my metropolitan area and it was hiring an administrative team. I pulled up my résumé, applied, interviewed and got the job! I spent the next few months developing courses, learning the Angel platform from the administrative side, and getting online teaching experience. I now had teaching experience and online experience. I applied to two non-profits and immediately heard back from both. Within six weeks, I was hired and in training. My new life in online adjunct teaching had begun. I have enjoyed it and cursed it ever since.

It is January, a new year, and I need to make an income since the government thinks I need to wait 25 more years until I can retire. I am doing two online introductory courses at a for-profit, two online Ph.D. research courses for a for-profit, one blended aviation course and one synchronous online research course for a private non-profit. I also have a contract through June to do some administrative work at Sunny Research University. I just had two weeks off from all my assignments, so I am ready to begin the adventure. I will be chronicling my search for more online classes for March and beyond and letting you know how things are going with my various classes. I will be discussing the challenges and sharing my concerns. I see scheduling it all in as my biggest challenge, but I am sure something else will come along and surprise me. In the world of online teaching, that’s common.

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