Fall semester will more closely resemble Penn State’s in-person instructional experience. Classes will be scheduled using the University’s standard (non-COVID) modes of instruction.
Fall 2021 instructional modes are described on the Registrar’s website.
Frequently Asked Questions about Fall 2021
Fall 2021 Instructional Modes
Remote synchronous courses cannot be offered in fall 2021 because of concerns related to our university accreditation. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the university was required to provide the full range of services to distance learners that it provided to residential learners. Resident learners have access to these services by virtue of their presence on campus; similarly, Penn State World Campus provides access to all of these services for its students.
During COVID-19, the way we met this requirement was relaxed so that we could continue to meet the educational needs of our students who were at a distance. However, as we return to offering courses primarily in a residential mode, our accreditation requirements also return.
Providing access to services to learners who are enrolling for remote synchronous courses and who are not part of World Campus presents challenges, particularly in the instances when a student may have all courses remotely. Increasing the number of remote synchronous courses in such a way that students could potentially create a schedule composed entirely of remote synchronous courses, but without an assurance that they would have access to all services, would then become problematic in terms of our accreditation.
Remote synchronous courses can only be offered if the course is shared across the campuses or if the instructor has received an exemption for health-related reasons to not teach in person. It is possible that a hybrid course might include limited remote synchronous instruction.
The remote synchronous courses that are shared between campuses or are part of a shared program, are managed very carefully and are limited in number to ensure that a resident student who is enrolled in one of these courses also has a full set of in-person courses. The in-person courses that such a student is enrolled in is the assurance that they have access to all campus services. Contact David Callejo Perez (email@example.com) and Liz Wright (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are considering offering a shared course.
Decisions about course modes should be made collaboratively with your unit head, faculty, and where available, instructional designers and others who support the course that is being considered. Whenever possible, this collegial conversation should include all instructors who are teaching the course. The overarching responsibility and final decision stays with the chancellor or dean (or designee), who is responsible for ensuring that the portfolio is representative of the residential mission of the University.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, my course had some Web sections and some in-person sections. Will this be the case in fall 2021 even if one of those sections was approved for remote synchronous instruction during the pandemic?
It is possible to have a split between Web and in-person modes across multiple sections of a course. Offering a limited number of asynchronous Web sections will help provide flexibility while ensuring that we are meeting our residential mission. Offering a course in the remote synchronous mode is not an option unless the course is a shared course across campuses and David Callejo Perez (email@example.com) and Liz Wright (firstname.lastname@example.org) have been involved in the discussion.
Can a remote synchronous section be added in order to allow for more capacity in large courses with multiple sections that are limited by available classroom space?
Remote synchronous is not an available mode unless it is part of a shared program/course. If space is limiting the number of sections that can be offered, the use of asynchronous Web courses would be a good approach to help meet student demand.
If a course is in-person and the student is asking for a Zoom option, are we required to provide a Zoom option?
No. We recognize that some students will not be able to attend in-person classes and we will need to have options available to them that will allow them to continue to make progress. Such options will include enrolling in asynchronous Web courses or doing a temporary change of campus to Penn State World Campus.
Can we accommodate students who want to remain remote or can’t return to campus for various reasons?
We know that some students who cannot return to campus will need alternatives and separate guidance is being developed for these situations. The guidelines for change in mode document outlines the considerations to be made when changing the mode of a course based on the residential mission of the University and the pedagogy of the course.