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Diversify Your Online Teaching Workload: How Diversification Breeds Opportunity

Diversify Your Online Teaching Workload: How Diversification Breeds Opportunity

by Nicole Runyon
May 26, 2015

In order to grow your academic career, you need to diversify your online teaching workload. One of the best ways to do this is to think more broadly. By saying yes to unique opportunities, you can open doors that you didn’t even realize existed. Diversifying your credentials shows your flexibility and willingness to adapt.

Do you want to diversify your online teaching workload? Tired of being stuck with one school? Looking to break in to the world of online teaching? Bored with your current teaching load? Consider diversification as a key component to your ability to expand and grow your career. The broader your experiences and the more willing you are to take on new and different opportunities, the greater chance that you will have to expand and grow your career.

To diversify your online teaching workload can be intimidating and scary. We often want to stay in our comfort zone. Why not? It’s easy….it feels warm and fuzzy….everything is going along status quo so why move the proverbial cheese? But here is the reality:

  • With each opportunity and each experience, you diversify your credentials. This makes you more eligible for a broader number of positions.
  • As you make yourself available to take on diverse challenges, new opportunities will automatically and unexpectedly arise.
  • Diversification builds confidence – also increasing the likelihood of job opportunity.

While there is something to be said for having expert knowledge in a single field, this really pigeon holes you in to having to stay on a specific path. This limits your opportunity and ultimately your earning potential. Even Sheldon Cooper has diversified his research and has moved from string theory to dark matter in order to accommodate a changing work environment.

Consider these scenarios:

Scenario A:

You typically teach History but your Course Lead has an urgent need for someone to teach Geography. All of your social science credits stood out to her as she was looking for someone to take the class. Don’t say no! Geography might be your least favorite subject but by saying yes you:

  1. Put yourself in good favor with the administration;
  2. Open yourself up for future last minute opportunities that the department/school might have; and
  3. Are able to add this to your CV which might get your foot in the door for another opportunity at another school.

Scenario B:

You typically teach graduate nursing classes. Your Dean calls you because they are redoing an undergraduate course on anatomy and physiology. They had someone who was going to do it but it fell through at the 11th hour and they need to have the redo in two weeks. Even though you don’t typically teach A & P, your Dean thought of you because of your educational and professional background. The timeline is aggressive and you are wondering how on earth you’re going to be able to get the project done on time. Don’t say no! Find a way to carve out some time to get the job done. Not only will this add another layer to your CV, but it will also likely grant you the opportunity to teach this same class going forward. Additionally, it puts you in great favor with admin since you picked up the ball and ran with it on such short notice.

Scenario C:

You have the opportunity to teach with a new school. You have taught online for a couple of years but primarily in one field and for a couple of local community colleges. The new opportunity is for a well-respected university and the topic is one in which you are comfortable. The pay, however, is less than you had hoped. Don’t say no! Why? This is another school and experience to add to your CV. Give it a whirl – you might love it and embrace it for reasons beyond compensation (e.g. small class size, autonomy, they keep you scheduled regularly, etc.). If it turns out to really not be worth it, you’ve invested only one term!

These scenarios show only a few ways that you might be able to diversify – there are many! So how can you diversify?

Consider these ways of diversification to help boost your CV:

  • Diverse background - We can’t change our background but we can change the way we highlight it. What have your professional experiences been? Any military? Travel? Different positions within an organization? Different types of organizations? Be sure your CV shows the best possible you and remember that today’s experience is tomorrow’s background. What you are doing today can help you in a month, year, etc.
  • Diverse degrees – Considering going back to school so that you can teach in other fields? A new Masters or perhaps embarking on a Phd? If you have a Masters in Nursing and are going to continue with a PhD in Nursing, how will you benefit? What if you pursued a PhD in Applied Management – would that open different doors? Consider broad options!
  • Diverse course loads – Look at your CV – how can you expand your focus? Do you have 18 graduate hours in other areas so that you can teach in other disciplines? Could you teach at other levels (grad/undergrad)?
  • Diverse technology experience – The greater exposure you’ve had to Learning Management Systems, the more marketable you will be. It shows that you can easily adapt to new technology.
  • Diverse types of schools – Currently teaching only at religious based schools? How about diversifying to a state university? What’s your balance of for-profit and not-for-profit? How about a community college?

While I am a proponent of taking giant leaps of change, this obviously isn’t for everyone. If you are a tad squeamish and don’t want to completely change gears, try stepping out of your boundaries a little bit and find some related or complementary fields. Ask yourself what you have to lose? In the scenarios above, the worst case scenario is that you will have taught something that you don’t like for a term – in the big scheme of things, not a big deal!

Rather than looking for reasons why these opportunities won't work, ask yourself how they can help!


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Nicole Runyon has been been teaching online since 1998 and loves helping
adult learners find ways to achieve their goals and broaden their perspectives.
We are proud to have Nicole offer her mentoring services at The Babb Group,
take a moment to read Nicole's resume and service offerings

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Contact the author Dr. Nicole Runyon