New Playbook Supports Online Adjunct Faculty and Their Institutions in Implementing Adaptive Courseware

Strategies Derived from Earlier Surveys of Online Adjunct Faculty and Institutions

Boulder, CO - The Every Learner Everywhere network has released a new playbook outlining practical, actionable strategies that professionals in various roles across higher education institutions can use to better support the growing number of online adjunct faculty. 

The playbook, Supporting Online Adjunct Faculty Across Institutional Roles: An Inclusive Playbook for Academic Leaders and Instructional Support Staff,  is inspired by data collected in an earlier survey of online adjunct faculty across 119 institutions. That survey and resulting report, Online Adjunct Faculty: A Survey of Institutional Policies and Practices, explored the policies and procedures that two- and four-year institutions use to support online adjunct faculty. A 2015 survey had similar results.

The resulting playbook provides six hands-on strategies and various implementation tips for adjunct faculty – and, importantly, those who onboard and train them. These strategies include:

  • Establishing clear expectations for online teaching; 
  • Developing effective onboarding and training experiences; 
  • Creating opportunities for connection and community; 
  • Using data to tailor training and connective experiences;
  • Incentivizing key professional development areas; and 
  • Recognizing exemplary adjunct faculty.

"With institutions of higher education across the United States utilizing adjunct faculty to teach online courses, the success of students, courses, programs, and institutions is in their hands. As we engage in the many roles we have across organizations and institutions, we need to ask ourselves if we are doing all we can to support adjunct faculty as they work to reach and teach our students,” said contributing author Nicole L. Weber, Ph.D., Associate Vice President of Learning, Online Learning Consortium. “This playbook operationalizes six actionable strategies, supported by voices and exemplars from the field, for different institutional roles to consider as they advance their online adjunct faculty support efforts." 

The playbook notes that despite the increasing reliance on online adjunct faculty across the U.S., institutional support for them has lagged behind support for tenure-track faculty. Studies have shown that adjunct faculty broadly lack access to key resources, such as email or office space, help with instructional design, meaningful professional development opportunities (Burleigh et al., 2021), and pay commensurate with experience and credentials.

Supporting Online Adjunct Faculty Across Institutional Roles is designed as a resource for instructional support staff such as instructional designers and technology trainers, academic leaders such as department chairs and deans, and executive leaders including provosts and presidents. People in these roles can pull from the playbook as they analyze, develop, and enhance their online adjunct faculty support systems. This playbook also includes a checklist for adjunct faculty to prepare, design, and facilitate courses. 

“Throughout students' paths through higher education, faculty often have the most direct influence on students,” said playbook contributing author Abby McGuire, Ed.D., Director of Research, Online Learning Consortium. “Therefore, ensuring faculty needs are met with regard to onboarding, training, and development is essential.” 

Also contributing to the playbook is Van L. Davis, Ph.D., Chief Strategy Officer, WCET–WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies. 

To download the free resource or learn more about Every Learner Everywhere and its collaborative approach to equitize higher education through digital learning, visit To contact Every Learner Everywhere, email, or call (303) 541-0206. Follow Every Learner on Twitter @EveryLearnerNet.


Every Learner Everywhere is a network of twelve partner organizations with expertise in evaluating, implementing, scaling, and measuring the efficacy of education technologies, curriculum and course design strategies, teaching practices, and support services that personalize instruction for students in blended and online learning environments. Our mission is to help institutions use new technology to innovate teaching and learning, with the ultimate goal of improving learning outcomes for Black, Latinx, and Indigenous students, poverty-affected students, and first-generation students. Our collaborative work aims to advance equity in higher education centers on the transformation of postsecondary teaching and learning. We build capacity in colleges and universities to improve student outcomes with digital learning through direct technical assistance, timely resources and toolkits, and ongoing analysis of institution practices and market trends. For more information about Every Learner Everywhere and its collaborative approach to equitize higher education through digital learning, visit

The Online Learning Consortium (OLC) is a collaborative community of education leaders and innovators dedicated to advancing quality digital teaching and learning experiences designed to reach and engage the modern learner — anyone, anywhere, anytime. OLC inspires innovation and quality through an extensive set of resources, including best-practice publications, quality benchmarking, leading-edge instruction, community-driven conferences, practitioner-based and empirical research, and expert guidance. The growing OLC community includes faculty members, administrators, trainers, instructional designers, and other learning professionals, as well as educational institutions, professional societies, and corporate enterprises. Learn more at

WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) is the leader in the practice, policy, & advocacy of digital learning in higher education. WCET is a member-driven non-profit which brings together colleges, universities, higher education organizations, and companies to collectively improve the quality and reach of technology-enhanced learning programs. Learn more at