The University has announced that 2020 summer courses will be delivered remotely/online, due to the continued need for social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. The Office for Summer Session has assembled the following FAQs (below) to help students navigate the online learning landscape.
- What is the difference between a web course and a remote course?
- How will I know if my course is a web course or a remote course?
- My course is still listed as an in-person course in LionPATH, how will I know the instruction mode?
- How will I be able to purchase my textbooks for the summer session?
- I’m nervous about whether I will be successful in an online course. What resources are available to support students?
- I’m disappointed that I will not be able to be on campus this summer. What is the university doing to help students feel connected to Penn State and other students?
- Will I be able to access library resources for my courses?
- What do I do if I have connectivity issues?
- What do I do if I don’t have a device that will work for my course?
- How do I know if I have the right device and/or software for my courses?
- How do I find Summer Courses?
- What are the benefits of summer courses online?
- Tuition – What is the cost of a summer online course?
- I am an incoming first-year student with questions, where can I learn more?
Each instruction mode – web, remote, and hybrid – are designed to achieve the course outcomes by ensuring the learner engages with content, their instructor, and their peers. The Canvas platform provides the organization of the course and access to the course materials.
A Web course does not have prescribed class times. Assignments, including online discussions and feedback provide maximum flexibility while keeping the student on schedule with due dates.
A Remote course is structured with at least one opportunity per week for the class to meet together through remote learning technology (e.g. Zoom) for discussion sessions, demonstrations, and lectures.
A Hybrid course blends the web and remote modes together with opportunities to engage with peers and instructors in remote learning or online modes.
- You will be able to use the instruction mode listed in LionPATH to determine whether your course will be taught as web, hybrid, or remote course. Here is a key to help:
- Web – web course
- Hybrid – hybrid course
- COVID web – a course that was scheduled to be in person and was switched to a web course due to COVID 19 no faculty.
- COVID remote – a course that was initially scheduled to be in person and switched to a remote course due to COVID 19
- We are currently working to adjust all of the in-person courses to COVID Web or COVID Remote courses. The instruction mode updates will be made in LionPATH by May 1, 2020.
- Where available, digital textbooks will be made available for students. If a digital textbook is not available, you can purchase the textbook through the bookstore at https://psu.bncollege.com/shop/psu/home. Shipping will be free for students throughout the summer.
I’m nervous about whether I will be successful in an online course. What resources are available to support students?
Penn State has many excellent resources to support student success in online courses.
- New Student Orientation for First-Year Students
This year’s New Student Orientation https://orientation.psu.edu/ has been expressly designed for online learners and their families, yet it will also acquaint you with your resident campus and that campus’s amenities. This interactive program will prepare you to start your semester successfully from wherever you reside, making sure you have the technology you need to take advantage of all resources.
- Canvas Learning Management System
Penn State courses are accessed by the Canvas Learning Management System, and there is a dynamic Canvas Tutorial available at https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1772057 that will help you prepare to navigate your online courses and to meet and communicate with your professors and classmates.
For specific technology questions, you can always contact friendly IT consultants at the Student Helpdesk https://it.psu.edu/get-support by phone or online via 24/7 chat or schedule an online consultation with a Tech Tutor at https://techtutors.psu.edu/.
Academic support services are provided by numerous entities across Penn State:
- Library and Research
Reference librarians and research consultants at Penn State University Libraries https://libraries.psu.edu/ provide academic mentoring and help navigating the resources available across the library system.
- Tutoring and Study Groups
Tutors and study groups in topics including, writing, math, science, economics, statistics, and language are provided by Penn State Learning https://pennstatelearning.psu.edu at University Park and at campus learning centers. To find your campus-of-admission learning center, go to http://pennstatelearning.psu.edu/campus-learning-centers-twenty-penn-state-resident and see what courses are supported. Many of these centers also provide online workshops for studying efficiently and meeting the demands of higher education courses.
Online study resources include iStudy for Success https://istudy.psu.edu/ and Linked In Learning https://linkedinlearning.psu.edu/tutorials.
- English for Professional Purposes/ESL
Students who need help with professional English language skills are encouraged to access programs and consultants provided by the English for Professional Purposes Intercultural Center (EPPIC) at https://eppic.la.psu.edu.
- Learning Needs and Academic Readiness
Students with specific learning and mobility needs should contact the Student Disability Coordinator at their campus of admission—see the list at http://equity.psu.edu/student-disability-resources/campus-disability-coordinators.
Finally, before your classes begin, be sure to check out this site to assess your online learning readiness: https://weblearning.psu.edu/are-you-ready-to-be-an-online-learner.
I’m disappointed that I will not be able to be on campus this summer. What is the university doing to help students feel connected to Penn State and other students?
- Undergraduate Students: Penn State is committed to helping you feel connected to the university and your peers. While we are physically at a distance, there are still many student engagement activities and programs happening to keep you connected and interacting with your clubs and organizations. There are also quite a few programs and services to support your co-curricular success. Each campus and college has a unique list of programs and services to keep you engaged. Check your Campus Events Calendar (for example, https://studentaffairs.psu.edu/events) to keep up with the latest programs and services. The Penn State Go App is the official all-in-one app for Penn State University. Access it at https://mobile.psu.edu/ and view university-wide and campus-specific programs. Be sure also to check out the Student Engagement Network (SEN), which offers remote and virtual engaged learning experiences related to personal growth, professional readiness and community impact. First-year students can also interact with peers and student engagement interns through the SEN Canvas Course. Access the Student Engagement Network at https://www.engage.psu.edu/.
- Graduate Students: Graduate students are encouraged to reach out to their individual graduate programs with any questions and to stay connected to any virtual events being held for students by their program or college. Many graduate student organizations are not very active over the summer, however, students can stay connected through the websites and Facebook pages of these organizations. One important such organization is the Graduate & Professional Student Association (GPSA) at https://gpsa.psu.edu.
- Penn State University Libraries is an essential part of your educational experience. Until the time comes when we can be together in the library, we want to highlight the ways that you can get started using the library during your time at Penn State. Many of our resources are available digitally and we say that the front page of the website is the front door of the library. We have compiled special information related to remote learning that will provide quick answers to your most common questions.
If you have specific questions while using the library, we offer a robust chat service that is staffed by employees of the library. You can access chat at libraries.psu.edu/ask. Please do not hesitate to reach out. Our favorite part of being Penn State employees is to help students!
- If you have an internet connection, but are experiencing spotty or slow service, it may be your bandwidth. Penn State IT has provided tips on conserving bandwidth. One quick tip is to turn the wireless off on your phone if you are using your computer or tablet to connect to class. You are likely consuming bandwidth without knowing it. Some additional tips are:
- Turn off video unless necessary.
- If you can use a wired connection, opt for that—it will be more reliable.
- If not, be as close to the wireless router as possible.
- If possible, ask others who share your Internet service to limit their bandwidth consumption during your class session.
- Your local provider (e.g. Comcast/xfiniti) may have advanced tools for managing devices connecting to your home network; please see their customer support pages for more information. In today’s connected environment, many “smart” appliances and devices consumer use bandwidth without us giving it much thought. Disconnecting these devices for a short period of time may improve your class experience.
- Students are expected to provide their own technology if able. If you have exhausted all other options and do not have access to a computer and/or the internet from your location, please log in to the IT service portal and fill out the Penn State Mobile Technology Request Form to formalize your computer/access request or call 814-865-HELP (4357). University IT is continually working on the availability and distribution of equipment. Information about your request will be relayed via the phone number you provide in the request form. Once you receive your equipment, contact the IT Service Desk for 24/7 support.
- If you lack internet connection, you can also use your phone as a hotspot. Penn State IT has provided instructions for how to set up hotspots on Samsung, Pixel, and iPhones.
- In order to use a personal hotspot on your device, you may also secure additional data from your wireless carrier. The following providers have information readily available on how to upgrade data: AT&T, Charter, Comcast, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Find more providers and information on the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected page.
- If you do not have access to a computer and/or the internet from your location, please log in to the IT service portal and fill out the Penn State Mobile Technology Request Form to formalize your computer/access request. University IT is continually working on the availability and distribution of equipment. Information about your request will be relayed via the phone number you provide in the request form. Once you receive your equipment, contact the IT Service Desk for 24/7 support.
- Outreach and Online Education has compiled technical requirements for online courses. This can be a starting point for students preparing for summer online. Additionally, students can reach out to their instructor to ask about specific requirements.
- WebLabs is also available to remotely access CLM computer labs and WebApps allows remote access to some specialized software.
Here are some additional resources for Online Learning and connecting to technology at Penn State:
- You can search for summer courses in LionPATH by setting the term to Summer 2020. Keep in mind that you can take courses at any Penn State campus in the summer without changing your campus of enrollment. If you don’t see the course you are looking for offered at your campus, search at other campuses. In the summer, there are multiple summer sessions. Be sure to review the start and end date when selecting your courses.
- Penn State has a long history of offering online courses in the summer. Summer courses help you to make progress toward your degree, explore an area of interest, or catch up on your degree program requirements before the fall semester.
- Penn State has adjusted tuition for the summer pending Board of Trustees approval. For more information visit Penn State Today.
- First-year students should visit https://admissions.psu.edu/coronavirus/ for responses to common questions.