Contract and Employment Questions

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:

  1. 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.

  1. 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!

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Replies

  • I love Mike's discussion, which he links below. Also, don't forget my favorite: Rescue Time. Best to you all in your tracking efforts!

  • Thank you, Kimball.  I suppose "return and report" has always been a part of the gospel!

  • I have had a lot of the same thoughts about keeping time that other people have mentioned. It is hard, when all I want to do is the work (not track it).

    https://onlineinstruction.ning.com/forum/topics/automatic-time-track...

    Today I posted about a tool that will track time, that you don't even have to remember to start or stop. This is a life saver for me, because I always forget to start or stop the other apps. This is even more true because I balance multiple salaried or self-tracked commitments. I often have to jump from answering an email for BYU-Idaho to answering one for my other commitments in a different webpage. The apps I just found will track the webpage change automatically and show how much time you spent on each page.

  • I've also used applications to keep track of my hours.  Keeping track of my hours each week seems redundant.  As a former school administrator I am use to spending whatever time it takes to get the job done.  I understand the need to quantify the approximate hours an instructor spends on the class as an average.  However, I think this question could be asked once or twice a course.   Filling out  "time card" each week does not seem to fit with the professional standards that we are asked to perform.  However, I am happy to comply with this request.  I just wanted to suggest that perhaps, the "time card" is may not be needed each week.

    • Thanks for your input Robinette. It is appreciated.

  • This is my first semester and I have been really concerned about how many hours I spend on the class and what is expected of me during those hours. I am so grateful you clarified some of my concerns. Thank you so much!

    • I've been feeling the same way, Anne. I really appreciated this post as well. It's my first semester too. I've been keeping track of my hours and what I've done with them in a yearly planner. It's actually really helped me divide out the work through the week and keep track of what I still need to accomplish. It's also been good to keep track for myself of where I have extra time to fit in a project for my class or to do something extra. The more I've done this, the less stressed I feel about reporting my hours each week. 

    • Glad it was helpful Anne!

  • FYI, I use an app on my phone called an Hours Logger to keep track of my hours.  There are alto of Hours Loggers available and it makes it really easy to keep track of your weekly hours.

  • Thanks Kimball for the information.  My first semester I was always going over in my hours.  I was stressing too much also and I talked with my TGL and Kirk Williams and was able to get a better perspective on what was expected of an instructor.  So now daily I have a routine of grading and posting which helps me be effective but not stress so much.  I've kept all my lesson information from last semester saved on my computer so I'm able to this semester use alto of the same material and just tweak it for improvement.  Now I'm so efficient I don't always get all the required hours but I am meeting all the standards, so its nice to know we don't necessarily have to have the exact hour count each week.

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