Online Teaching as Virtual Work in the New (Political) Economy

Online Teaching as Virtual Work in the New (Political) Economy

Roy Schwartzman (The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, USA) and David Carlone (The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, USA)
Copyright: © 2010 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-979-8.ch003
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Abstract

Online teaching and learning has been adopted throughout higher education with minimal critical attention to the challenges it poses to traditional definitions of academic labor. This chapter explores four areas where the nature of academic labor becomes contestable through the introduction of online instruction: (1) the boundaries demarcating work from personal time; (2) the relative invisibility of online labor; (3) the documentation, recognition, and rewards attendant to online instruction; and (4) the illusory empowerment of online students as consumers. The theory and practice of what constitutes “legitimate” labor in higher education require substantial reconsideration to incorporate the online dimension.
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Background

Before proceeding, the terminology of OTL requires clarification. In this chapter, references to online teaching and learning denote fully computer-mediated courses and programs rather than online components that supplement traditional classroom teaching. We would argue, however, that the labor-related issues discussed herein become incrementally more salient as more instructional work migrates toward computer-mediated communication and away from face-to-face interpersonal interactions.

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