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Adams writes blog about effective online instruction

Dr. Annie AdamsDr. Annie Adams, Professor of English at Morehead State, has published an essay about effective online instruction on an Inside Higher Education blog.  

The essay, “Fourth Class,” was published on the blog, “University of Venus,” which features the writing of Gen-X women in higher education. In it, Adams discusses some of the challenges small regional universities like MSU and community colleges face when dealing with online instruction. She said there are several areas of resistance that inhibit institutions’ ability to use online learning to its full potential.  

“Administrators looking only to cost-cut resist properly investing in technological infrastructure, and faculty leery of cost-cutting moves (and being replaced by robots) are suspicious,” Adams said. “Additionally, there are student learning outcomes that cannot be achieved remotely (a Zoom live stream is only an approximation of live theatre, you can't draw a patient’s blood through a computer screen, etc.) and faculty who need to help their students achieve these outcomes often see ‘online’ as a distraction—which it is if remote learning on campuses doesn’t start from a consideration of student learning outcomes.”  

Another point Adams brings up in the article is the need for faculty members to have genuine connections with students. She said online platforms provide a variety of ways to connect with students, and instructors must reach out to students and build connections.   

“Communication fosters connection. Students need to know there’s a live person at the other end of the screen,” Adams said. She added she believes every institute of higher education should be a digital hub for its community, and there are several steps MSU and others are taking to accomplish that.  

“The first step is to offer high-quality online courses. The next step, for our institution in particular, is to provide training and access in online technology for area teachers. We need to prep them for the classrooms they will face (which means being aware of the problems of the digital divide and potential ways to mitigate it),” she said. “We also just need to do more with every student on campus to make them digitally literate. There are simple, “work ready” elements we could embed in general education, particularly because all faculty and students here have access to the full Microsoft 365 suite.“  

Adams also discussed access inequities among students, saying there are several things schools can do to make sure students have access to the resources they need to optimize online learning.  

“Options would be to provide hot spots, scholarships for technology, and to start working on making courses and our teaching tools mobile device friendly because phones are often the only access some of our students have,” Adams said. “Bigger picture: try for grants for regional development funds and continue to bombard the state legislature with requests for equity in terms of education.”  

To read Adams’ essay, visit  

To learn about programs in MSU’s Department of English, visit, email or call 606-783-9448.