Why can’t remote synchronous be offered in fall 2021? Will exceptions be made to this policy?

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 (dmc6630@psu.edu) and Liz Wright (ejw12@psu.edu) if you are considering offering a shared course.