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Managing the workload

This Unit Coordinator began her career in a regional university setting before moving to a city based research intensive university. She describes the differences in technology application between the universities and the level of support provided to Unit Coordinators. More...

My academic career began four years ago when I was appointed to lecture at a regional university. For the first two years I taught 13 units annually with most of my responsibility centred on the online delivery of units in addition to two or three face to face units. Student numbers were small and if student numbers exceeded the standard quota I received extra payment. The use of technology was embraced on the regional campus with an educational designer available to assist me. Early last year, after two years on the regional campus, I moved to this city based research intensive university.

Starting out was not too difficult here for me as I already had an idea what was required of academics. However, I found far less flexibility here, and far less support from colleagues than I experienced on the regional campus. The delivery of lectures and tutorials is prescribed but I am left to decipher policies and procedures within the Faculty and university on my own. It does mean though that if something like plagiarism occurs I can follow the university procedures as outlined and know that I am handling the matter according to university policy. I have no idea who to approach for technological support so I either work it out for myself or ask the people around me and try not to be a nuisance.

Recently I invited others to join me to form an unofficial technology learning group but was told there was no interest and not to bother. I was trying to be strategic to work and learn from others so that I was teaching smarter rather than simply working harder. Fortunately I found a few supportive colleagues and the Faculty Associate Dean responsible for Teaching and Learning is interested in e-learning. He was excited about an e-portfolio presentation I delivered on campus and is happy to assist me spread information about using technology such as Blackboard, Moodle and blogging.

I still find managing the long working hours and heavy workload demanding so often work on weekends. For the moment I am concentrating on being organised, and while I enjoy preparing and improving my lectures I realise it is placing pressure on my research. In the short term my research is on the backburner, though I understand research is important. The focus here is on research quality rather than quantity and discipline based research is encouraged over that related to teaching and learning.

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