Gemma, from EPS, has alerted me to some interesting “Associate Lecturer” roles for the Open University which are currently being advertised. This is the OU’s term for the tutors they employ who support their students who study part-time and at a distance.
Tutors are involved in teaching and assessment (on-line and by post), dealing with individual queries (by e-mail, phone and post) and running group tutorials and day schools (either face-to-face or on-line). You need a degree or equivalent, or professional vocational qualification, for the subject you’re working in, and Gemma pointed out that they’re open to applications from PhDs who are in the dreaded “writing up” phase.
Although subject knowledge is important, for these roles you also need to be appreciative of the challenges facing adult learners, particularly if they don’t fit into the neat box marked “18 years old, straight from school with 3 good A levels and no family / job distractions”. Good (on-line and face-to-face) communication skills and ability to build up a rapport with your students would be particularly valuable here. The rewards however, of working with this range of students, can be high. As Gemma says, “The students are often highly dedicated, undertaking part-time study in conjunction with full-time work and family commitments. I found the OU a supportive and friendly organization to work for, with opportunities for professional development.”
There are vacancies for a wide range of courses, though not in all regions of the country. For those courses starting from December to March, the closing date for applications is October 2nd, so that’s a month to get your application in. Although the normal closing date for tutor applications for courses starting in the Autumn is the end of May, there are still some courses/regions where applications are being encouraged, even for September/October course start dates, so may be worth a look at any time of the year.
I have a special affection for the OU as my Dad was one of their first students (mumble, mumble years ago…). I have fond memories of unpacking the science experimental kit, and “helping” with some of the practical tasks (timing balls rolling down inclined planes sticks in my mind, along with the dinky little microscope, a design classic). Who knows, along with helping your tutees, you might also be sparking the interest of the next generation of scientists/engineers/linguists/historians ?