Alice C. Linsley
Endings produce mixed emotions. Certainly that is the case for me as I close the door on a relationship with Midway College where I have taught as an adjunct for twelve years. The first eleven years were wonderful, but this last year was disastrous.
Five years ago I was asked to develop an online course for Midway College on the History of Ethics. I spent the summer break doing the research and writing an eight-week course that covered key ethical concerns from 3000 B.C. to the present. It was a course I loved teaching and each year I made small changes to improve the course. The improvements included images, color, subheadings, hot links, related readings, and lesson summaries. The course grew in popularity. The student evaluations of the course included comments like these:
"This class was very interesting! The professor was very interactive and provided tons of feedback."
"I really enjoyed the class. The instructor was very attentive and answered my questions in a timely manner."
"This class was very interesting and kept my interest the entire semester. It was probably my most favorite college course I have taken."
Last Fall I was under contract to teach the course again, but to my dismay when I went online, the course was not the course I had developed. Instead there were eight cut-and-paste, very dry, lessons beginning with Aristotle. (My course began with archaic communities.) I communicated with the college contact person and asked to have my course restored. The course was to launch one week later. After some conversation with the Dean of Humanities, it was agreed that I should be allowed to teach the course that Midway had paid me to develop and which I had taught for the past five years. However, Midway no longer had that course because it was posted on a platform with a company the college stopped employing as a cost-saving measure. That meant I had to reconstruct the course, which I did, staying one week ahead for the students. This extra work was in addition to teaching six classes at another school. My stress level was high, but the course was improved even more. I was told that this would be the "approved" Philosophy 301 course and I was asked to teach two sections of the course in the Spring 2014. I agreed to do so, confident that the new, updated course would stimulate students to think more deeply about key ethical concerns throughout the ages.
Spring came and I went online to check the Philosophy 301 course and again I found that it had been changed. This time the material was even worse than the first change. Once again, I contacted the Dean of the Humanities Department. I was already under contract to teach the course, but I explained that I could not teach such an inferior course and asked the college to restore the course that I had re-written and which had been approved the previous semester. This request was met with silence and the course launched.
Only lessons 1 and 2 of my work were retained. All the other lessons were short shallow essays and YouTube videos. However, whoever decided to make the changes kept my original quizzes and final exam which were based on the readings that had been removed. Talk about confusing! The students were emailing me like crazy. Again I appealed to the Dean of Humanities to restore my lessons, but no response. This time I copied the message to the college President and to the Academic Dean. No response from anyone! So I took the lessons that were missing and I posted them at Philosophers' Corner and I messaged my students to be sure to read those lessons before they took the weekly quizzes and final exam.
I also emailed the Dean of Humanities, who is the party responsible for the Philosophy courses. I explained that this would be the last course I would teach for Midway College and she finally responded! Her two-word message was, "Thank you."
This ending has left me with feelings of anger, frustration, disappointment and sadness. I tell this story because Ethics Forum started almost seven years ago as a resource for my Midway College philosophy students. As I am no longer teaching Philosophy on the college level, this blog will no longer be active. The last post will appear on June 30, 2014.
It is with regret that I now say goodbye to readers and thank you for checking this blog regularly for the latest news and developments in Ethics and Moral Philosophy. I am grateful for the years of interaction with you and for your thoughtful comments. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors!
Alice C. Linsley