Photo: donkey and carrot

Kolowich, S. (2010) Spare the rod, pay the prof Inside Higher Education, December 21

An article about the University of Kentucky that allows most of tuition revenues from online courses to flow directly back to the academic department that develops and offers the courses (which I think is in general a good practice). This is a step towards activity-based accounting, but why limit it to online courses? Why not apply the same principle to their classroom based courses? Or will departments only develop online courses so long as they make them money but will continue to expect to be subsidized for classroom courses?

The other interesting point is that faculty get paid a ‘bonus’ of $5,000 for developing an online course. I have to ask why. Surely the decision to go online should be seen as just another way to deliver a course and so developing an online course should be part of regular academic teaching load. Now if the money was used to pay for an adjunct to replace the faculty member so that he/she has time to do the development, that is different, but I have a problem with the principle of paying instructors more for online teaching (or less).

My point here is that institutions are still treating online learning as outside the framework of the regular academy. If something is good for online learning, in most cases it’s going to be good for other forms of teaching as well – and vice versa. Bribing faculty may work in the short term but it sets principles that are indefensible in the long run.


  1. Tony:

    I agree that institutions shouldn’t be treating online delivery as something special that gets funded and supported differently but I think that implementing a financial model that sees tuition revenues flowing back to academic departments is a recipe for disaster. This will only strengthen the parochial, siloed view that dominates most post secondary institutions by weakening the the ability of the institutions to allocate funds strategically.



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