The following list is a set of questions that the Faculty Development program has received via its courses and discussions with faculty and other administrative units. This is one helpful starting point to help you with questions that you may already have. To add to this list or inquire about any other issues not in this list, please email Faculty Development at PSUWCFacDev@outreach.psu.edu.
Faculty Development Programs
What Courses does Faculty Development offer?
View the Course Catalog for a full list and descriptions.
View the Course Schedule to see when courses are offered.
View the Faculty Certificates to see how courses are grouped for different certifications in our program.
Who can participate in Faculty Development courses?
World Campus faculty members are given priority in registering for Faculty Development courses. Other Penn State faculty, staff, and graduate students who are interested in online teaching may also participate in World Campus Faculty Development activities.
How do I register for a Faculty Development program?
The following link will take you to the form to register for current Faculty Development courses: https://courses.worldcampus.psu.edu/facdev/index.php
Where do Faculty Development courses meet?
Each program is different. The majority of Faculty Development courses meet virtually via Canvas. Some course offerings may be held in face-to-face or hybrid (online and face-to-face) formats.
Is there a cost to participate?
All programs offered by Faculty Development are free.
What are my responsibilities as a World Campus instructor?
In a general sense, your responsibilities as a World Campus instructor will be very similar to your on-campus instructional responsibilities – you will be responsible for teaching the course! The main difference will be that by the time the first day of class begins, the course content (i.e. the “lecture” materials) will already be in place in the form of Web pages, printed materials, CD ROM-based materials or some other format. What does that leave you to “teach,” you ask? Plenty!
For more information, please review the OL Instructor Handbook.
Questions About Students
What is “Student Services”?
Student Services is the customer service unit within the World Campus. The unit is made up of more than 30 people, most of whom are housed in the Outreach Building on the University Park campus. They are the initial “front line” with World Campus students, offering services such as:
• assisting departments/faculty with program and course academic advising
• step-by-step directions on how to enroll
• tuition and financial aid information
• technical troubleshooting (through World Campus Technical Support, a unit within Student Services)
• scheduling exams and verifying proctors
• course schedules and registration deadlines
• disability services
• PSU ID cards (for students who have been accepted into World Campus degree programs, provided those students have enrolled in a course during the past year)
• general problem solving
In the answers to many of the questions below you find that Student Services is often the place to go for help! Here’s how you can contact Student Services.
I notice that several of my students haven’t logged on yet–how can I get their contact information so I can get in touch with them to see what’s up?
Instructors can call or e-mail Student Services at any time to obtain student contact information.
What kind of technical support is available to my students?
The World Campus has a dedicated Technical Support group available to help students with many of their course-related technical problems. Tech Support provides help with:
• Software support Web pages containing information related to the student’s operating system, browser, and even course-specific problem solving
• An on-line database of technical answers to students’ computer problems
• On-line training courses to help students be more productive with their computers
• A “Web Dictionary” where students can click on an unfamiliar computer term and have it defined
• An on-line “Help Desk” where students can easily communicate their computer problem and get the assistance they need
• “Live” support where they can communicate in real-time through a “chat” session with the Help Desk–this enables students to stay on-line while working with Tech Support (available during regular Tech Support hours)
One of my students found a problem with something in the course materials–whom should s/he contact?
Students make our best detectives! Encourage your students to let you know about any and all “glitches” they discover within your course. If you are not able to fix the problem yourself, then please pass that information on to the instructional designer assigned to your course.
Who determines the students’ IDs and passwords that are used to access on-line, password-protected course materials?
All students are given a Penn State Access Account user ID and password upon registration in their first World Campus course (if they don’t have one already). That ID and password can be used to access all on-line course materials, as well as other Penn State-only resources. Students cannot change their user ID, but they can change their password at any time (and should do so immediately after receiving their initial password). To do so on-line, they should be directed to the “Change Your Access Account Password” Web page.
Is there any place where my students (and I!) can get oriented to our on-line learning environment?
An online new student orientation is available: http://student.worldcampus.psu.edu/orientation-new-students
In addition, your course’s “Welcome Page” and other course-specific materials typically provide a good introduction to your course’s on-line environment.
Can my course be used by students at other Penn State campuses?
Yes. The University has created a e-Learning @ Penn State Cooperative system as a way to extend the value of World Campus courses to other campuses of the University. The e-Learning @ Penn State Cooperative allows any campus of the University to enroll Penn State resident students in a World Campus course. For more information about the e_Learning at Penn State Cooperative system, please contact your Program Manager.
How often should I log on to my course Web site?
You should log-in to your course every day, if possible. This does NOT mean you have to spend a lot of time or post a lot of messages. It does mean that if someone has a question or needs urgent help for a problem, you are aware of it quickly and can respond within 24 hours. Also, the number of messages you must read each session is much more manageable if you do so more frequently. You should plan on answering all outstanding questions each session. The most important thing you should do is to communicate upfront to your students how often you plan to log-in. That way they’ll know what to expect.
If at any point you need to deviate from your plan, let them know in advance by dropping the class an e-mail note or posting an announcement in your course. And what about those situations where you experience technical difficulties that prevent you from logging on in the first place? Contact Student Services so that someone can post a “Where in the world is my instructor?” message on your behalf!
World Campus Administrative Support
What is a “Program Team” and how can it help me?
For each World Campus program there is a “Program Team” that oversees the development and delivery of the program. This team includes members from the academic unit and the World Campus who meet regularly to share information and deal with any questions or issues pertaining to the program.
What is a “Design Team” and how can it help me?
Designing and developing a course to be available through technology requires some specialized skills and strategies. Your course design team includes instructional designers, multimedia specialists, graphic artists, and programmers who understand online learning and are available to work with you in the creation, production and delivery of your course
Your instructional designer will work closely with you and will be your main contact with the design team during the development process. It is also the instructional designer who is responsible for helping you meet your production timelines and budget. The main goal of the design team is to help you design a cost efficient and educationally sound program that serves the needs of our distance learners.
What is an “academic partner”?
The World Campus is not an academic unit and all academic content, program design, and curriculum planning is done as a partnership with the academic unit. When we say “academic partners” we are talking about the academic programs and departments that are housed at the various campuses. Those staff members work with the World Campus to deliver high-quality programs online.
Why does the World Campus retain intellectual property rights to my work?
World Campus does not retain intellectual property rights to your work. The World Campus facilitates the signing of a copyright agreement using a form that was created by Penn State’s legal counsel. The agreement makes clear the fact that when work is generated using University faculty and University resources the rights are held by the Pennsylvania State University. See Penn State policy IP03 Courseware for more information
One of the reasons why the University holds copyright for courseware (online courses) is that the University has often invested significant resources in the construction of the courseware–which has been created by the author, often in coordination with course designers, multimedia specialists, and technologists. Protecting the copyright of the tangible assets of the course–the specific items created during development, but NOT general underlying ideas and concepts–allows the University to ensure the ongoing availability of the course for students who may need it as part of a program of study.
How long should I plan to spend each time I log on to my course?
This question has one of those dreaded “it depends” answers! There are many variables that influence how much time will need to be spent on daily on-line course facilitation. If you have a large class that has a fair amount of interaction and you plan to log-in once a day, you might plan on spending an average of one to two hours each day reading messages and responding where appropriate. More time might be needed when factoring in reviewing and grading assignments. On the other hand, it might take you less time when you reach points in your course where students are busy working off-line on their assignments, projects, etc. All in all, if you do a fair comparison of the amount of time you would have spent in a similar face-to-face class (including in-class time, office hours, student appointments, grading assignments, etc.), you should find that it takes roughly the same amount of time to teach the course on-line.
It might be helpful for an instructor to “guesstimate,” based on the number of students in the course, how much time s/he can commit to communicating with each student within a set period of time–say, a week. The instructor may discover that if s/he has 20 students, s/he can realistically accept and answer four e-mails per week from each student. The instructor must then communicate that to the students, and students must also be strongly encouraged to write clear, concise messages. If one student e-mails the instructor numerous times daily, that student may need to be asked to consolidate messages, study material a little more carefully, or post some of his/her questions on to a bulletin board, if there is one. (Students could also be told to check out the course’s FAQ page, if there is one available.)
If you feel that your course may require too much time to instruct, consult with your lead instructional designer to see if there are strategies or technologies available to help reduce your workload.
What do I do when I can’t get on-line?
When you know you are going to be out of touch, announce any planned absences at the start of the course and as the course progresses. When you are traveling, you’ll need a laptop and an Internet connection to stay in touch with your students. If you know ahead of time that you won’t be able to connect, make an announcement to your students to let them know.
Should you become ill or experience some emergency, let Student Services know as soon as you are able. That person will post a message for you to inform your students of the situation. If you experience computer problems, let Student Services know so that they can help you get connected to your students again quickly.
How will my students interact with one another and with me?
At the World Campus we use a variety of means to bring students and instructors together, including:
- Online discussion boards
- Chat rooms
- Telephone / Skype
As each World Campus course is developed, specific interaction strategies are selected to meet the needs of the course, using the technologies likely to be available to the students who are taking that particular course.
(Please note that in the case of Independent Learning courses–where students work through course materials at their own pace, independent of anyone else who might be enrolled in the same course–students may not have the opportunity to interact with anyone other than the instructor.)
Do I have to read and respond to all discussion forum posts from students?
Consider your students’ expectations for the course. Unless it clearly states somewhere in the course materials that you will NOT be reading and responding where appropriate to all course communications, students will expect to “see you” (hear from you) on a regular basis. Typically it is not necessary to respond to every course message unless it is directed to you. In fact, if you do respond to every student post, you may find that you’ll have the negative effect of stifling discussion. You’ll find it necessary to skim through all course communiqués to get a good feel for the nature of the discussions, choosing those times when you feel you should add your own input.
One strategy that has proven effective in many courses is to encourage students to answer each other’s questions. Using other students in the course to deflect large numbers of e-mail messages can be an effective method of time management. When they have questions, students can be asked to send them to the whole class and to the instructor; if another student knows the answer, s/he can reply to the one posing the question and to the instructor (so the instructor knows the question has already been answered by someone else). Students who for some reason have missed assignments can also check with other students to catch up instead of e-mailing the instructor for the information.
Private messages are a little different. Messages sent directly to you should always be responded to in a timely manner.
How can I make my course more “human”?
There are many ways you can make your distance education course more “human.” One of the most effective strategies you can use is to provide your students with a face behind your name. This can be done in many ways:
- You could write a welcome letter that is sent to students upon registration
- You can encourage your students to get in touch with you
- You could add a picture of yourself to your “Meet the Professor” information
- You can encourage (or require!) students to introduce themselves at the beginning of the course by sending a note by e-mail, bulletin board, electronic mailing lists, etc.
If you are new to some or most of the technology that may be used in your course, don’t be afraid to admit it!
You can infuse your enthusiasm for your subject, your students, and for learning by taking any opportunity to bring your materials to life, such as through your moderation of on-line discussions and one-on-one communications with students.
If I suspect academic dishonesty–what should I do?
If you suspect academic dishonesty, immediately begin to document and attempt to verify your suspicions, utilizing such tools as Turnitin.com. Before contacting the student, it is very important that you read, understand and adhere to Senate Policy #49-20, Academic Integrity,http://www.senate.psu.edu/policies/47-00.html#49-20 and the related G-9 Academic Integrity Procedure. Also review the academic integrity information published by the academic college responsible for the course. This is typically found on the college websites (for example: Handling Cases of Academic Dishonesty ) and will include the University policy as well as college specific information and contacts to guide you through the process for handling academic integrity violations.
According to University policy, once a student has been informed that academic misconduct is suspected, the student may not drop the course during the adjudication process. The instructor should notify the World Campus Registrar, email@example.com, so that the student will be prevented from dropping the course during the adjudication process.
Additional resources for faculty and students:
Can I add materials from other sources to my course under “Fair Use?”
One of the more common issues that arises is the question of use of copyrighted material in your course. As you are instructing, you may locate items such as articles, handouts, or diagrams that you wish to send out to students enrolled in your course. One of the issues that the University asks us to be very careful of, for legal reasons, is the inclusion of externally copyrighted materials. If any article or handout you wish to use has been pulled from a textbook, journal, or other external source, it may need to be cleared for copyright permission before it can be distributed to students. The clearance process can take time and can add significantly to the cost of the materials.
Factors related to fair use should be examined to determine whether the items you wish to use require clearance. Some items, such as materials produced by the government or items that have passed out of copyright protection, are available for use without going through the formal clearance process. There are also individuals and organizations that create useful materials and clearly indicate that those materials may be used “for educational purposes.” Some publishers do not permit their publications to be placed in an electronic environment such as the Web; others stipulate that items may be used if the site is protected in some manner.
For most World Campus courses, World Campus staff will secure Copyright Permissions for you as part of the course design and development process. You will need to supply your Instructional Designer or other World Campus contact with the necessary information about the materials you want to use.
Can my students post materials from other sources to our course Web site?
If your students create Web pages of their own as part of their course work, it would be beneficial to discuss with them in advance the liability that can arise regarding the placement of copyrighted materials – such as software, film or music clips, photos or articles from magazines – on their Web sites. Students, instructors, and employees of the University who violate copyright law and other conduct standards place the University in legal jeopardy. Faculty members who become aware of a potential problem regarding the electronic distribution of copyrighted materials (or, for that matter, materials or communications that may be considered pornographic, harassing, or otherwise offensive) are advised to contact the student and request that such material be removed, or that such behavior be stopped immediately. Misuse of University resources such as Web space and electronic mail accounts can result in the suspension of privileges for the offending user.
Can I show off my course Web site publicly?
Student data (such as name, address, major, etc.) is protected by The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). That Act indicates that information from records, files, and data directly related to a student shall not be disclosed by any means (including telephone) to individuals or agencies outside the University without the signed, dated consent of the student in writing, except pursuant to a lawful subpoena or court order. By sharing course postings, e-mails, assignment submissions, etc., you would be in danger of violating a student’s rights.
So that course materials can be shared publicly, your instructional designer can create an identical copy of your World Campus course that lacks student data. These sites can then be used when doing demonstrations, giving conference presentations, etc.
Can I revise my course for future semesters?
If you feel that your course could/should be improved, we advise you to bring it to the attention of your academic unit (program/department chair).
End of Course Questions
What do I do if someone requests more time to complete my course?
You have the authority to defer a student’s grade for up to 10 weeks after the course end date. In extenuating circumstances, an additional extension may be granted. For this, you’ll need to contact your college dean or the director of Penn State’s Division of Undergraduate Studies.
To grant an extension, enter a grade of DF in eLion when entering the semester grades for your class. When the student completes the course work, you can change the DF to a final grade. If the student does not complete the course and the final grade is not assigned within the given time period, the Office of the University Registrar will assign a grade of F to the student’s academic record.
How long after the course ends will students have access to the course site?
Unless you deactivate the course site, students (and you) will continue to have access to your password-protected course materials for one year from the last day of the course, provided their Penn State Access user ID and password remain valid. (Students must continue to be registered for Penn State courses in order to maintain a valid Penn State Access account.)
Do I need to continue to check the course Web site after the course has officially ended?
Even after your course has officially ended, some students will continue to check back into the course to review material and check their grades. Since you won’t continue to check into the course every day, you should post at least a note to the course announcements.
Let your students know that if they need you after that date, they should contact you directly through e-mail and give your University e-mail address. That way, a student won’t post something to the course bulletin board or to your course-specific e-mail account and then wait around for an answer.
Is there a way to save some of my students’ work to share with future students?
In the future you may wish to distribute to your students examples of “exceptional” student essays, papers, etc., from past offerings of the course. This is a good idea, as it permits students currently enrolled in the course to develop a better understanding of your expectations for their performance. We frequently get feedback from students commenting on the usefulness of such examples, and requesting that we include more such examples in distance-delivered courses. One of the issues that you need to consider is that ownership of student work submitted during participation in a course still rests with the student. If you wish to distribute such items or include them in your course in an ongoing manner (for example, by placing them on a course Web site), you should clear the use of these items with their original authors (getting such permission in writing is a good idea). It would also be a good idea to find out whether the student wishes to have his/her name associated with an example when it is used in the course.
Will my course be evaluated?
In brief, as an administrative function the World Campus and/or your course design team will routinely gather information about students and evaluate specific aspects of all courses. World Campus students will be asked to complete 1-3 short surveys as they progress through a course.. The different types of information gathered will be shared as appropriate with multiple World Campus stakeholder groups.
The three types of surveys that may be administered are described below:
- Demographic/attitudinal (approximately 2 weeks into the course) to collect information necessary to develop WC student profiles and to guide future marketing plans. This survey will be administered via the Web to students taking their first World Campus course.
- Formative (approximately half-way through the course) to collect information on course design and process as the basis for course improvement and management of processes.
- The University’s “SRTE” is administered to students at the end of the course. Students will automatically receive an email reminding them to complete their SRTEs online. The individual academic departments are responsible for identifying the questions they want included on the SRTE. All Senate policies and regulations regarding the SRTEs apply to World Campus courses.
How will evaluation feedback be shared with me?
Information gathered through these surveys (excluding the SRTE) will be disseminated as follows:
- Demographic/attitudinal – Percentages will be shared with World Campus administration, program teams, and instructor.
- Formative –Course-specific data will be shared with World Campus administration, academic units, design teams and instructors as appropriate.
- Summative Because we are not an academic unit, the World Campus staff does not have access to SRTE data unless the academic unit chooses to share it with the World Campus
How can I access my SRTE’s?
For more information on access, go here: https://www.srte.psu.edu/. There is no link available in Canvas as of yet.
How are new World Campus programs started?
World Campus conducts active market research to determine market interest in new and emerging fields. The academic departments also propose courses and programs that then get reviewed for market viability by our marketing team. Overall, it is a joint effort between World Campus and academic units.
What are the degrees offered through World Campus at this point?
World Campuses currently offers more than 90 online degree and certificate programs. For a full, up-to-date list of available programs, visit: http://www.worldcampus.psu.edu/degrees-and-certificates
I am interested in teaching online. Where can I apply to teach a Penn State World Campus course?
World Campus instructors are selected by the academic departments through which the courses are offered. For contact information see http://www.worldcampus.psu.edu/teaching-opportunities-with-world-campus
What is the difference between “head count” and “enrollment?”
The term “head count” refers to the number of unique students whose designated campus is World Campus. The term “enrollment” refers to the total number of seats filled in World Campus courses. For example, if I am a World Campus student enrolled in three courses, then I count for one towards the World Campus headcount and three toward World Campus enrollment.
It is also important to note that students from other Penn State campuses can enroll in World Campus courses. So, a University Park student who is enrolled in a World Campus course to supplement her resident instruction would not count toward the World Campus headcount but she would count toward enrollment.
Do World Campus instructors have control over the content and assignments that are included in their online courses?
It often depends on the course. In many cases, academic units sponsor the creation of the course and they control how their department teaches it. You should contact your program or department chair if you have questions concerning the degree to which you are permitted to modify the course you are teaching.