College of Earth and Mineral Science faculty and Dutton Institute learning designers partner in the development and delivery of the College's online courses, with a shared goal of engaging students in dynamic online educational experiences. This partnership is based on respect and value for the role each plays as they bring their expertise to the development and delivery process.
The matrix below outlines the key tasks in delivering an online course. The roles and responsibilities of the learning designer and course instructor are included for each task. (NOTE: These tasks are closely related to the College's Best Practices and Expectations for Online Teaching.)
|Follow the established course start and end dates. Meet student expectations for a course which will start and end as stated in the Schedule of Courses.
|New Instructor? Walk the course instructor through information on the College's "Managing Your Online Course" website, providing any additional course-specific tasks that need to be completed throughout the course delivery process.
Experienced Instructor? Remind the instructor of the "Managing Your Online Course" website.
|Follow the College's "Managing Your Online Course" throughout the semester and each time the course is taught.
|Monitor assignment submissions and communicate and remind students of missed and/or upcoming deadlines.
|Provide example student communications from previous courses.
|Practice proactive course management strategies. Post a note to your class at least once a week, telling students what you will be covering in the coming week and reminding them of any due dates.
|Establish and communicate to students, early in the course, a regular schedule for when you will be logging in to the course.
|Offer example instructor-to-student communications, discuss best practices for maintaining instructor presence in the course.
|Common practice is to log in to a course at least once a day and once over the weekend. Many instructors find emailing students (and/or posting to a discussion forum) at the beginning and end of each lesson is an effective way to keep the course moving along at an even pace and to ensure that students feel connected to the instructor throughout the semester.
|Give prior notice of planned absences to your students and to the administrative unit overseeing your course.
|Monitor “All Course Faculty” communications closely during the instructor's absence to be alerted to issues with the course that a learning designer can address.
|Communicate the dates of your absence to your students (e.g., add those dates to Canvas calendar, post them to a discussion forum, or send them by email to the class). Consider finding another faculty member to monitor your online course if you are going to be out of contact with students for more than a couple of days, especially if they are to be working on assignments while you are gone.
|Provide feedback to student inquiries within one business day.
|Encourage faculty to respond quickly to student inquiries, discuss best practices (posting answers to general questions on the forum, for example) for effectively managing student inquiries.
|Many students taking online courses have finite windows of opportunity in otherwise complicated schedules to complete coursework. Timely feedback from their instructor demonstrates not only a respect for students’ time but also contributes to the student experience being one of dynamic engagement with their instructor.
|Provide meaningful feedback on student work using clear and concise language.
|Provide information to the instructor about feedback tools and rubric development. Discuss strategies for ensuring that even in large-enrolling courses they are able to offer meaningful feedback to their students.
|Provide students with detailed feedback on submitted work. By moving beyond “good work!” and instead offering them specific examples of areas in which they excelled and areas to concentrate on for further development, the student not only gains more academically from the assignment but also really trusts that the assignment was graded with care and consideration.
|Communicate to your students, in advance, when you will grade and return all assignments and exams.
|Discuss reasonable expectations for turnaround times on grading assignments, strategies for managing large grading loads, and course schedule planning to maximize the instructor’s ability to grade work effectively (and around their own travel or other commitments).
|Establishing, and communicating to students, expectations for how long it will take to return graded work is key. Generally, routine assignments should be graded within one week of the due date. Larger assignments, such as term papers, essay exams, or projects, may take longer to grade effectively. Consider establishing due dates to accommodate your own schedule external to the course.
|Provide a teaching and learning environment that supports academic freedom.
|Discuss the importance of academic freedom and share guidelines for adhering to Policy HR 64.
|Consistent with Policy HR 64, remember to be mindful of your relationship with your students, as well as their Penn State peers, avoiding political or philosophical statements or appearances that may be interpreted by students as biases or proselytizing.
|Make sure you have immediate and predictable access to the same technology that is required for students in your course.
|Help the instructor reach a level of comfort with course technology so they can work independently. Provide technical support to the instructor when necessary, related to agreed-upon technology needs. Complete test runs of technology in advance of student use.
|Include information about technology requirements in the syllabus. Strive for personal proficiency with course technology so you can work independently. Complete test runs of technology in advance of student use.
|Post final course grades to lionpath within two business days of the course end date and/or receipt of the final assignment/exam, in accordance with University policy.
|Before the semester begins, ensure that the instructor knows how to enter grades in LionPATHusing Second Factor Authentication and verify that s/he is able to do so. Go over options for submitting grades (manual entry, exporting from Canvas direct to LionPATH, etc.). Ensure course grading scale is established in the Canvas gradebook.
|Consider the final grade turnaround when establishing final exam/final project schedule. Communicate with students about when to expect final grades to be posted to Canvas and to LionPath. Post grades within the designated timeframe.
|Encourage your students to complete your end-of-course survey (SRTE).
|Help the instructor communicate to students that SRTE results are anonymous and not provided until well after grades are finalized.
|Send your students a note encouraging them to complete the survey and assuring them that the information that will be used to improve the course is important to you.
|Ensure all course materials are free from written errors.
|After the course’s initial offering, arrange to have a copy editor go through the course to check for typos, grammatical errors, and the like. Afterward, the course will be included on an ongoing proofreading schedule to ensure that the course is routinely checked for errors.
|Let your learning designer know of any specific proofreading needs or concerns you may have. Respond to any inquiries from the copy editor or learning designer regarding questions resulting from the proofreading of the course.