Penn State Commonwealth Campus Teaching Support is an indispensable resource for faculty and staff at Penn State's Commonwealth Campuses. The program was created by a group of faculty and instructional designers to create professional development opportunities and support to help faculty and staff enhance their teaching skills and to improve student learning experience.
Following the collaboration that grew from teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic, the program has offered workshops, webinars and training opportunities to help faculty and staff learn about new teaching strategies, technologies and best practices.
The program offers workshops and webinars throughout the year on course design and planning through live sessions, which are attended by 400 faculty annually. These sessions give faculty the opportunity to learn about best practices, innovative technologies and innovative teaching strategies, and also offer the chance to collaborate with colleagues and share ideas and experiences.
One key resource offered by the program is the Course Design Template, a comprehensive tool that guides faculty and staff through designing a course. The template includes sessions on course goals and aims, assessments, activities and more. It also provides guidance on how to align course activities and assessments with learning outcomes, ensuring that students are provided the opportunity to learn the material they need to succeed.
“During the pandemic, the campus instructional designers came together to collaborate and share resources to support our instructors as they shifted to remote teaching,” said Elizabeth Huck, who is the statewide director of instructional design for the Commonwealth Campuses. “We built an amazing community that continues to meet regularly, collaborate on projects and find new ways to work together to better support our faculty and enhance the learning experiences for students on our campuses. Through our collaborative efforts, we can offer all the campuses more faculty engagement opportunities than we would be able to each offer individually.
"It's a multi-campus effort to sculpt the program to its greatest potential, bringing faculty and instructional designers from across Penn State together with resources that have helped build a community of practice across the Commonwealth Campuses.”
Dani McCauley is an instructional designer at Penn State Behrend, where she runs the Teaching Online Program (TOP), a series of three online courses designed to help instructors improve their skills when they have online courses. The program started out as one course offered to Behrend faculty, but the committee worked for a year to expand it into three levels that could be offered to all Commonwealth Campus instructors.
It's a multi-campus effort to sculpt the program to its greatest potential, bringing faculty and instructional designers from across Penn State together with resources that have helped build a community of practice across the Commonwealth Campuses.
—Elizabeth Huck , statewide director of instructional design for the Commonwealth Campuses
The Teaching Online Program provides a way for Commonwealth Campus instructors to complete the program more efficiently and effectively, and is supported by a group of Campus ID partners who coordinate with faculty on their campus as they complete any level of TOP.
“I love working as an instructional designer in the Center for eLearning Initiatives at Penn State-Behrend,” said McCauley. “I primarily focus on online courses and using tech tools to facilitate learning. No two days are the same, which makes the work challenging in a good way. I work on a variety of projects at any given time — ranging from course developments for World Campus and Behrend campus, professional development for faculty at Behrend through coaching and workshops, and many cross-campus collaborations.”
One of the recent additions is Assessment Design, which focuses on assessment goals and aims, types of assessments, and rubrics, among others. The goal is to help instructors align assessments with learning outcomes.
All the programs offer personalized support and guidance from experienced teaching consultants. Faculty and staff can work with these consultants to address specific teaching challenges, such as developing effective assessments, creating inclusive learning environments and engaging students in online courses. The consultants supply feedback on course design and delivery, helping faculty and staff to enhance their teaching skills and improve student learning outcomes.
Overall, Penn State Commonwealth Campus Teaching Support is an essential resource for faculty committed to supplying high-quality teaching and learning experiences for their students. The program empowers faculty and staff to create engaging, effective learning environments and helps them stay up to date with the latest teaching strategies and technologies. To learn more about the program visit Commonwealth Campus Teaching Support.