WORK, MANAGEMENT, AND LIFE IN THE PLATFORM UNIVERSITY: THE COMEBACK OF THE BUSINESS MODEL
In their first year of teaching at the University, July 12 was the last day of the second semester for Maureen and Luke, with the end of classes and the handing over of the final essays and research reports of their students. Within a week, it was also the expected time to start some vacation, to visit relatives and to ease the pressure of their job on their private life.
To their surprise, the department manager, a former colleague student, busy on his career fast track, reminded them that he chose them to be part of the selection committees for masters students and, given that one colleague retired and two others quit their posts, there was no alternative but to take some extra work with them through their vacation. There were also some minor questions as to being available to respond to doubts students might have on the assessment criteria of exams in any subject. Holidays that year became reduced to a week and more recently lately to a weekend or three days, dedicated to replenishing energy and dealing with their exhaustion.
Now, it is more than ten years of a workload augmented almost irreversibly, job rhythms accelerated and urgency as the new normal. The issues here are work overload, its huge extent and how difficult the “management” of people’s lives has turned out to be. The expectation of technological innovation and the use of a learning platform (what is formally known as a learning management system or LMS) has turned a promise of flexibility into a nightmare. The drift of the platform university goes unchecked. This is especially true for teaching, training, lifelong learning, and even research.
To access classes online at anytime and from anywhere allowed the trend of acceleration and continuous dedication to one’s job to take over not just one’s time but the very process of taking decisions, and that means thinking about what one is doing and what one’s future might be.
How to make sense of all that? To answer this, three aspects are crucial: technological change, work practices, and management.