Initial Publication Date: November 30, 2016

Faculty Reflections and Stories:

Part of the InTeGrate Penn State University Program Model

Development of the online courses took a lot of work by all of the teams of faculty. The basis of a good online course is text that reads like a lecture (not a textbook) so the course authors took a lot of time writing the module materials. Designing activities that involve systems thinking, complexity and large data but were at the general education level was also very challenging, but satisfying. In addition to the student materials we wrote materials for the instructors that hopefully will make adoption seamless. Now that the courses are almost developed there is a great deal of satisfaction in seeing significant numbers of students taking them. Since the fields of the courses change regularly, they are in constant need of revision which is challenging. However it is very satisfying that the material is so societally relevant and students appreciate that.

Teaching students around the world, including many adult learners who cannot get to campus, is extremely rewarding. It is also rewarding to be helping faculty in other campuses within the Penn State Commonwealth campus system so they can devote time to upper division courses.

I had some reservations about online education and still do. However, the development of the courses and degree programs has calmed my misgivings. Overall I believe that when a student cannot get to campus, a rigorous online course is a great way for them to further their education.

Individual Faculty Reflections

  • Diana Maygarden, University of New Orleans
    Coastal Processes, Hazards and Society (taught online at UNO, as Earth 107 materials through PSU website)
  • Li-San Hung, Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus
    Coastal processes, Hazards, and society