Before I came to work full time at BYU-I last fall, I taught 4 years as a regular online instructor in addition to my day job. During those years, a recurring question ran frequently through my mind: “Why does BYU-I require me to report the hours I spend teaching my online course?” After being in the “Home Office” for a year now, I have gained new insight into this question I hope to share with you.
There are two main reasons we are asked to report our hours each week:
Data for Course Developers and Owners - When a course is developed by a department and designer, they use their best judgement and estimates to keep the load on the instructor within 3-4 hours per credit as outlined in an instructor contract (actually a little less to allow time for “other” activities such as teaching group participation, filling out weekly reflections, etc.). The time you report spending on your course shows if they have estimated it correctly or if it needs to be adjusted. We frequently get requests from course designers and campus departments for this information as they review and update various courses.
Accountability - Yes, BYU-I does trust their online instructors and believe them to be competent professionals. Most online instructors will put in the required time and effort into their courses whether they are asked for a report on it or not. However, not all do, and in seeking to manage nearly 1,000 (and growing!) instructors, it is necessary to have certain standard procedures and reports that allow everyone to follow the same expectations and be assessed on an equal playing field. Hours are just one of many data points to consider as we grow and develop as instructors.
Some additional counsel when it comes to hours:
BYU-I does not expect to you to work more than your contracted hours. As mentioned previously, courses should be designed to allow instructors to work within allotted hours each week. You may need to identify areas that make the best use of your hours each week. This requires time-management skills in recognizing what can and can’t be done within those hours (ex. leaving in-depth feedback on one assignment per week and lighter feedback on others if necessary).
If you do find yourself constantly going over your contracted hours:
1. Make sure it is being reported accurately in your weekly reflections.
2. Visit with your TGL who can give you ideas on working within hours
3. Report a course that is requiring more than the allotted hours for basic work by using the course fix/improvement form.
Don’t over-stress on hours. While it is important to accurately report the hours you work each week and to work within your contracted hours, it is important to realize that hours are only a single data point among many that communicate the environment of instruction within a course. We all will have occasional weeks when we may be over or under the standard hours, but we counsel our TGLs to look at the entire performance of an instructor when they perform assessments each semester. If you have any worries about the hours you have worked in a certain week, please speak with your TGL who will be able to work with you.
I hope this information is helpful, and that you know how much we value and appreciate you in the work you do at BYU-I!