Penn State Responds to Surge of Interest in Skills-Based Online Teaching Certificate

Penn State Responds to Surge of Interest in Skills-Based Online Teaching Certificate

ONLINE INTRIGUE: Last fall Pennsylvania State University’s World Campus launched a small, free skills-focused certificate program meant to help 30 graduate students develop online teaching abilities—but 350 actually showed up, and now the university plans to shake up its professional development to reflect the swell of interest. Laurence Boggess, director of faculty development for the World Campus, told Inside Higher Ed he believes this reflects a larger shift: “These graduate students who are about to go off and be the professors of the future, they get it. They understand that they’re going to be teaching online at some point, and they understand that online education—for better or worse—is not going anywhere.”

The World Campus already offers a more comprehensive, five-course certificate program called the Certificate for Online Teaching. That five-course program covers a broad array of topics such as accessibility, learning management systems and community building. The new smaller program, the Graduate Student Online Teaching Certificate, is designed more tightly around what instructors can expect to encounter in a virtual classroom. Participants might have to show they can effectively record videos, write welcome letters or settle arguments between students on a discussion forum, for example. Boggess says the new, focused program will likely replace the broader one by becoming a core class, with electives built around it.

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