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Online Adjuncting: the numbers

August 2, 2007

For those considering, or already involved in, online adjuncting. consider these numbers:

  • $1250–amount paid (I worked up to this number) for a six week session
  • 47 — estimated number of days worked in a six week session (6 weeks x 7 days + 5 days pre and post class sessions for setup and grading–estimated low for grading)
  • $26.60 — per hour rate if you worked one hour per day
  • $13.30 — per hour rate if you worked two hours per day (more likely average)

Factors that affect these numbers:

  • Add 8 hours if teaching a new class
  • Add 8 hours if creating new quizzes for a class
  • Add 8 total hours if teaching a writing intensive class (like composition)
  • Subtract a half-hour per day if you type really, really fast and have a high-speed connecting. If not, add another hour per day.

Things that suck up your time:

  • Different schools have differing rules on instructor participation. For the six week school used above, they required at least 6 days logging in. What they also demand, but do not say, is that you not only log in, but that you directly interact with virtually forum posting. This sorts out to about 30–45 minutes on a good day per class.
  • Grading (see quizzes to cut the time) will take a large amount of time, especially if you are in a writing intensive course. I cut my essay grading time down using the GradeEaze program. I was able to save my most commonly used comments and just click them in. I still, though, had to check TurnItIn.com for plagiarism (I recommend using this site), and down and upload the submission.
  • Offline prep. I tended to edit my materials every half year. I didn’t, though, have control over the book(s) used, and when they changed (it was my responsibility to check the book list each six weeks to ensure I was using the right edition), I had update time to factor in.
  • e-mails: students will e-mail you about anything. Then, they expect an immediate response, especially right before a deadline. I do not recommend giving them a phone number…perhaps an IM name, but no phone numbers.
  • Number of students in class–the “max” at the school used in this scenario was 12–15.
  • Number of sections/courses taught. If you are teaching three sections of the same course, then the time spent in each can be streamlined. Trouble begins when you are teaching 2-3 different courses. More trouble if those courses are spread across multiple schools (my record was 10 courses at three schools at the same time).

Other numbers:

  • 6+ average years in acquiring a liberal arts PhD.
  • 3 — number of years to acquire a law degree
  • $35-$42K — starting salary for liberal arts instructors
  • $0–$45K — starting salary for law grads
  • $50K — average salary for liberals arts grad five to ten years into
  • $80-$120K — average salary for law grade five to ten years into

Still more numbers:

  • $10K — annual salary at one course per 6 week semester
  • $30K — annual salary achievable at this school (max of three courses per semester)
  • $4326 — annual cost of health insurance for a family of three
  • $20K — net pay
  • $15674 — net after health insurance

Final numbers:

  • 24 — number of courses to make $30K
  • 288 — number of students taught to make $30K
  • 1440 — number of essays (five per 6 weeks) per year for $30K
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3 Comments
  1. Adjuct Prof permalink
    August 2, 2007 7:44 pm

    Sucks to be us.
    Real-dollar values show most adjuncts are losing money the longer we teach. Interesting article from CUNY adjunct here.
    Also more at http://www.adjunctProfessorOnline.com

  2. Sarah permalink
    August 6, 2007 6:51 pm

    As a former adjunct I am depressed just seeing it all broken down for me like that!

    I also teach online courses and it seems like you might agree that they take as much work if not more than face to face. besides the schools requirements I find students think that becuase I am reachable by email that I should be reachable at any moment to respond by email.

  3. Piss Poor Prof permalink
    August 6, 2007 7:17 pm

    Sarah, you are exactly right. It takes just as much time online, sometimes a tad more. Answering e-mails, even on a simple question, takes more time to explain through text than it would in person. That alone pushes the time out. But, if you factor in the commute you might break even. 🙂

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