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Labor Saving Techniques

Northern Arizona University

Given that a major goal of the course re-design project is to substitute technology "capital" for faculty teaching "labor," in what particular aspects of the course and its delivery are you finding that you are able to do this?

The primary capital-for-labor substitution employed in our course redesign was in the area of course delivery. In the traditional sections of college algebra, one instructor is needed per section, and six (not necessarily different) instructors are needed to teach six sections. In the redesigned sections, only three instructors are needed to teach those same six sections. Thus, the Web-enhanced format of the redesigned college algebra course reduced the labor costs associated with offering the course in its traditional format. This capital-for-labor substitution resulted in the department needing to hire three fewer temporary instructors for the 2002-2003 academic year than in did in 2001-2002. The computer laboratory setting also allowed instructors more time to circulate around the room and mentor and assist students.

December 2002 Update: For the redesigned sections, two regular faculty members served as instructors. The traditional sections were staffed primarily by graduate teaching assistants. Therefore, the substitution of technology for labor wasn’t realized to the desired extent. The graduate teaching assistants that would normally be assigned to teach the two redesigned sections taught other courses, so there was some degree of savings; it just wasn’t as great as it normally would have been.

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