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The Multiple Realities of Professional Development for Online Contingent Faculty in Canadian Strategy and Practice
April 6, 2022
Jason Openo, Medicine Hat College, University of Alberta, Canada
The growth of contingent faculty and the growth of online education over the first two decades of the 21st century have generated an emergent but overlooked subgroup of faculty – online contingent faculty. These twin dynamics have placed the professional development of online faculty in a strategically important position for Canadian postsecondary institutions to enhance online instructional effectiveness and mature online educational quality. This presentation outlines how a two-phase multimethod research study employed Ursula Franklin’s technology as practice to explore the following research questions: How are online faculty and their professional development represented in current Canadian postsecondary academic plans? How are the professional development needs of contingent online faculty being served by Canadian teaching and learning centres?

Phase one consists of a document analysis of 17 academic plans from Canadian colleges and institutes covering the current period and immediate future to reveal how faculty development is described and prioritized in academic strategy (the projected reality of the future). The document analysis highlights important strategic purposes of professional development, such as Indigenization and internationalization, but also shows that part-time and online faculty are marginally represented. Email interviews with 12 directors of Canadian teaching and learning centres comprise phase two (the extended reality of experience) and illuminate the contested space of providing educational development services to online contingent faculty. The findings reveal formidable barriers to providing professional development opportunities to part-time faculty who teach online, but also innovative solutions to meet the needs of part-time online educators in Canada. The presentation concludes with thoughts on a potentially darker future for professional development for part-time online educators based on the trends Franklin diagnosed in her oracular work 30-years ago.
Keywords: contingent faculty, part-time faculty, professional development, technology as practice

Jason Openo currently serves as the Director of Teaching and Learning at Medicine Hat College and as an Assistant Lecturer in the University of Alberta’s online Graduate School of Library and Information Science. He co-authored Assessment Strategies for Online Learning: Engagement and Authenticity, published by Athabasca University Press in 2018, where he obtained his Doctorate of Education in Distance Education. His other work has been published in Between Truth and Falsity: Liberal Education and the Arts of Discernment, the Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, The Canadian Journal for Learning and Technology, and Canadian Perspectives on Academic Integrity.

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Multiple Realities: Professional Development for Online Contingent Faculty in Canadian Strategy and Practice

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