G. Clarify the economic models that enable short-format training


Make compensation (financial or otherwise) of instructors a default consideration when budgeting and designing training.

The relationship between SFT, unpaid labor, and free access for all should be explored to identify areas to increase equity for both learners and instructors, while also addressing issues of sustainability.

SFT has a complex relationship between its value, accessibility, and costs of delivery. SFT delivered to learners for free increases its accessibility. However, free training may be undervalued and viewed as lower in quality. Conversely, when fees are required, some learners will be excluded if they or their institutions cannot or will not pay. Volunteer instructors must have career positions or financial ability to offer their time. Institutions must figure out how to sustain training programs beyond grant funding.

These issues have been explored in other academic practices such as publication 1 2 and this work could be translated into the SFT context. Insights into the costs, trade-offs, and pay-offs could reveal ways to avoid amplifying structural inequities involved in SFT as commonly organized. More equitable compensation (financial or otherwise) can reduce inequity. For example, volunteer service work is often subject to gender bias 3, and addressing this could support greater equity.

While clarifying the economics of SFT is unlikely solve all problems immediately, these insights will reduce barriers for those working for equity.

How might this work:🚲

Taking current literature and consensus practices into consideration can help decision makers justify additional resourcing to combat inequity by centering compensation for labor in developing and carrying out training. In the scientific publishing enterprise, paid peer review has been an actively debated subject 4. However, SFT is unlikely to encounter the potential conflicts of interest that have arisen in the scientific publishing domain.

Benefits to the learners:🚲

  1. Sustainable economic models could make SFT available to more learners. If SFT is adequately funded, it may also be available for a longer duration.
  2. If SFT is less reliant on unpaid labor, a greater diversity of instructors may participate, increasing the diversity of viewpoints, approaches, and styles of instruction, heightening the potential for inclusion.
  3. Learners may more highly value training if they understand its value in economic terms, even when that training is made available to them at a subsidized price.

Incentives to implementers:🚲

For Instructors

  1. Instructors could be adequately compensated for their work; this compensation may be financial, or through other forms of support or recognition.

For Instructional Designers, Funders, and Organizations

  1. Clearer understanding of the total set of resources needed to sustain a SFT program.
  2. Adequately compensating instructors for their work can increase the number of people willing and able to develop and deliver SFT.
  3. Including compensation for courses and instructors can provide greater accountability for ensuring SFT is of good quality.

Barriers to implementation:🚲

  1. Funding would be needed to support compensation for instructors and instructional designers.
  2. Financial compensation could be challenging to implement in some circumstances (e.g., where SFT occurs across national boundaries; using instructors working in positions where they are unable to accept traditional forms of compensation).

Survey question🚲

After reading the survey instructions and consent page and the recommendation above, please rate and leave feedback using the survey questions below:

Create your own user feedback survey

  1. Puehringer S, Rath J, Griesebner T (2021) The political economy of academic publishing: On the commodification of a public good. PLOS ONE 16(6): e0253226. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0253226

  2. Gershman, S. (2014). The Exploitative Economics Of Academic Publishing. Footnote.co [online]. https://footnote.co/the-exploitative-economics-of-academic-publishing

  3. Guarino, C.M., Borden, V.M.H. Faculty Service Loads and Gender: Are Women Taking Care of the Academic Family?. Res High Educ 58, 672–694 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11162-017-9454-2

  4. Brainard, J. (2021). The $450 question: Should journals pay peer reviewers? Science. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abh3175