Putting money where my mouth is: Presenting on casualisation and edtech at Moodleposium

I am just writing up an abstract for the upcoming Moodleposium conference, here in Canberra in November. I toyed with several different topics (digital badges, using marking guides, etc.) but I decided to follow my own advice and submit a paper on improving situations for casual teachers as it relates to education technology. This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart as I taught as a casual from 2009-2013 at UOW and also Southern Cross Uni. I have had many long discussion with sessional staff colleagues and friends about the assumptions made by lecturers, program convenors, and subject coordinators when it comes to building learning activities and assessments online. While many casual teachers only get paid for the hour they spend in class, they are often expected to build quizzes, administer large courses, mark assignments online, engage with students via email and forum posts, or in my case (and that of the Smart Casual) on social media sites like Twitter. And if the casual teacher involved doesn’t have the necessary skills, it is often confusing and difficult for them to find help or professional development when it comes to teaching online.


Just the hour then? From the BLASST cartoon collection: http://blasst.edu.au/cartoons.html

Just the hour then? From the BLASST cartoon collection: http://blasst.edu.au/cartoons.html

I’d like to give a paper discussing these issues with those present from my combined perspective as an educational designer and former casual teacher at university, and come up with some suggestions on how to move forward and what we can do to help our sessional colleagues when building and delivering courses online or blended.

I’d love to hear what you think and invite any suggestions on key problems when using ed tech or teaching online as a casual teacher, or solutions you’ve seen (or would like to see)! All suggestions will be referenced in the final paper as your contribution, of course. Send me a Tweet @katiedigc or leave a comment below. Thanks, friends.


14 responses to “Putting money where my mouth is: Presenting on casualisation and edtech at Moodleposium

  1. Hi Katie, great to see this being thought about. I would like to see some reflection on how speaking from a moderately more secure position than a casual would affect how much you are able to say. I’ve sort of tried to poke this bear before but didn’t get far. I’d like to start thinking about why it is that casuals are not as vocal on these topics in these particular spaces, and to open the space for more reflection on our own place in/contributions to this conversation. Maybe we could talk more when I see you next week!

    • that is a great point – I often wonder about the seeming lack of open conversation around casualisation. I have anecdotally encountered many of casual teachers who feel like it’s “just them” or that they should be grateful to have any work at all and so keep quiet. But I’d like to do investigating in this area.

    • Yup. Still amazed at lack of understanding and empathy by many ppl I work with, both professional and aca staff. Several colleagues were entirely unfamiliar with the issue (this just happened today)

  2. Hi Katie,
    Excellent topic! 🙂
    You know, one thing I have always wondered about is the many assumptions and expectations around casual teachers / academics / tutors actually being able to access / afford the hardware needed to teach ‘well’ or even ‘adequately’ online. IPads, tablets, laptops are expensive, and access to these things within the University for many casual staff is patchy at the best of times. Yes, BYOD is (increasingly being) presented as an option but what if your ‘OD’ is as old as the hills, or virtually useless in terms of what’s needed to effectively and efficiently teach / tutor / mark / moderate online?

    • I have often wondered the same thing – also in terms of internet access. In the field I taught in (digital communication) there were lots of large files and download times when marking multimedia assessment. Without a good internet connection at home (or access to university wifi) then large data charges could easily be accumulated when marking. I have some interview data about this from UOW which I hope to share when I prepare the paper.

  3. Pingback: CASA weekly news 25/14 | CASA·

  4. In Canada we don’t usually get paid by the contact hour. I am officially paid 225 hours to prepare, deliver and mark a 3 hour lecture course.
    I get the lower end of the Canadian average stipend, $6600 (Aus $ and Can $ being about equal) for this. Of course it actually takes 260-270 hours to deliver it, but I think it’s easier for the unions to negotiate better terms and conditions.
    this way.
    We also get access to dept. facilities, copying etc. This is mostly due to the stronger union laws and worker protections than in the US, where the situation is dire.

    • Hi Andrew,
      Thanks for sharing! That’s very helpful to hear. In Australia you would usually only get paid around $3000-4000 per course, and some unis (like ANU, where I now work) don’t pay for marking at all. Also, generally speaking things like food are more expensive here. $8 for coffee and muffin! Unlike Tim Hortons (I’m Canadian myself, though I’ve only worked at Aus unis).

      Do you have access to professional development, particularly around edtech?

  5. I think that lots of casuals are afraid of speaking out for fear of not getting more work when we are already scrambling at the moment for anything we can get. There’s also the deliberate refusal to acknowledge us. I recently posted a question about how the higher education changes would affect sessionals at my institution on the VCs blog where he specifically asked for input about the changes only to have my comments moderated out of existence… Of course, the ones discussing the impact on “faculty” and students remain.

  6. Hi Katie, payment for marking is mandated in all university collective agreements, it was a win the NTEU had in the previous bargaining round. I know sometimes departments and faculties like to make up their own rules but the collective agreement is legally enforceable. Rates are typically $40+ per hour and more if the marker hold a PhD

    • Hi Robyn,
      Thanks for your comment. It’s definitely something that many casuals I have encountered are not aware of. The new thing at UOW before I left was “contemporaneous marking”, where they tried to move assignments to things marked in class which where then not paid (presentations, quizzes, etc) as a way to cut costs. I would like to see more awareness of just what casuals are entitled to so we can address some of these issues! 🙂

  7. I’m looking forward to your presentation. In manufacturing, Taylorism eventually became off-shoring. What is the downside (for Sandstone U) of outsourcing student services (teaching) to Xenonia?

    “casual staff have increased from 12.7 per cent of the total [teaching staff] in 1989 to 22.2 per cent in 2007.” Coates et al 2009 http://goo.gl/4Pbubq p7

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