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Defender I

Academic Teaching Options (Adjunct)

If you have current or relatively recent academic teaching experience, please provide your comments based on the framework and questions below.


Many of us with post graduate degrees (masters and doctorates) and cybersecurity experience see a market for part-time teaching at colleges and universities. Such positions, generally called adjunct faculty or adjunct professor positions, are semester-to-semester contract jobs, not eligible for tenure-track appointments. (Some consider adjunct postings the migrant-labor jobs of academia.) These can be attractive and fun part-time jobs, and even useful recruiting tools for our employers as we spot promising students.  With the heavy pressure for schools to support working adult students, both undergrad and graduate level, most of the jobs are for online courses, although some are for live classroom teachers.


In that context I see basic four ways that classes take place. In todays connected world, a learning management system (LMS) such as Blackboard, Canvas, or Moodle, is usually the primary support tool for the courses, applicable to all of these class management models.  (I am not recommending any of these companies' products, simply giving three examples of widely used LMS products.)


1. Live classroom: Teacher and students are all physically in the same room together on a regular schedule.


2. Synchronous online: Teacher and students are all online together at the same time using full participation webinar-type software, allowing document view sharing (e.g. slides), typed chat, and voice interaction among all participants (video may be an option). Regular weekly class schedules are similar to live classroom schedules. Assignments and individual questions to the teacher use either e-mail or a file upload system into the LMS.   


3. Asynchronous online: Teacher and students are not required to meet online at a common time. On a standard schedule (usually weekly) the teacher posts reading assignments, slides, possibly video of a lecture, required discussion topics for a classroom group forum, quizzes, performance assignments, et cetera. Students must complete assignments and contribute to the group forum topic within the coming week, but can do so at any time, day or night.      


4. Hybrid online: The course is conducted as partially synchronous and partially asynchronous. Each week class participation follows the asynchronous (#3) structure, but at regular intervals (possibly every 2nd or 3rd week) the entire class must meet together in a synchronous online (#2) class session.  


From 2012 to 2014 I was a student in a graduate program using synchronous online classes (#2), supplemented by annual live classroom weekends. Of course, all of my previous academic study in the 60's, 70's & 80's, both undergraduate and graduate, had been pre-internet in the live classroom environment. Since graduation I have taught at the graduate level in live classroom (#1), and assisted in a course using the asynchronous online (#3) model.  Those recent activities supplement my teaching experience in pre-internet days of college courses (as a teaching assistant / lab instructor) and single-meeting special topic classes.  


Both in the synchronous classes as as student, and in the live classrooms as a teacher, I appreciated not only the teacher-to-student communication, but also the student-to-student teaching and support.  Especially with working adults as students who bring real-world experience into the classroom, I believe this group communication greatly enhances the value of the class. In contrast, when I was supporting the asynchronous (#3) course, I not only missed that level of cross-student learning, but also did not get the positive feeling as a teacher. Rather, I felt like I was once more merely a graduate teaching assistant, grading papers but not really teaching. 


So, if you are teaching, or have recently taught, cybersecurity courses at the college or university level, please provide your  thoughts on the modes you have experienced, as well as any advice you may have on making the experience a fulfilling teaching experience, ways you succeeded in developing your students, and even tricks you learned to make the LMS work for you and your students.




(This essay is copied from my blog.)



D. Cragin Shelton, DSc
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