College of Health and Human Development offers conference for online faculty

May 16, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The College of Health and Human Development recently hosted the Online Faculty Conference as an opportunity to promote and facilitate successful online teaching at the collegiate level.

“This event was intended to expose instructors to new and innovative ways to improve teaching and learning, as well as to help build a dynamic community of faculty in the college who teach online and encourage the sharing of good ideas across courses and departments,” said Ann C. Crouter, Raymond E. and Erin Stuart Schultz Dean of the College of Health and Human Development.

The Outreach Office in the College of Health and Human Development facilitated the event in partnership with Larry Boggess, director of Penn State World Campus Faculty Development.

“This conference reflected the college’s extraordinary commitment to and vision for innovative online teaching and successful student learning. We formed the foundations for a strong and growing community of instructional practice,” Boggess said. 

Nearly 70 faculty members and instructors from the college, across Penn State, and other institutions across the country attended the event, including Chris Calkins, executive director of the World Campus Master of Health Administration program and in-residence MHA program at Penn State.

“There is a wide array of innovative teaching approaches being used across the college’s online programs, and this conference helped us learn from each other ways to continually strengthen our programs and serve our students,” Calkins said.

Calkins plans to implement at least two concepts discussed at the conference. One concept is to expand the use of gaming simulations in more courses to allow students to engage in activities in virtual health care environments. Calkins also said his program will work to be a resource to other online programs and vice versa to promote interdisciplinary engagement.

“The other key message for me was that one of the great strengths of HHD is our interdisciplinary approach to teaching, research and service,” Calkins said. “That strength is extended across all of our programs and can be leveraged more fully to benefit online students.”

Anne Marie “Kitty” Kubat, clinical instructor in communication sciences and disorders, is currently working with fellow clinical instructor Constance Kossan, to develop the online course, Preventing Vocal Abuse, Misuse and Disorders. It will serve as a general education health and physical activity course for online learners.

“The conference provided an opportunity to meet and network with other online faculty, to learn from more experienced online faculty, and to share ideas,” Kubat said. “It was interesting to see how other online faculty are using various technologies to deliver course content. I now have a better idea of the various ways we might be able to present content to online learners.”

The conference also showed Kubat that the college has a high level of commitment to ensuring quality online learning opportunities, which is done in part by providing faculty members with necessary resources to make online courses successful.

“I plan to take advantage of each of these resources this summer as we continue to develop our course,” Kubat said.

Eric Handley, director of the Golf Teaching & Research Center at Penn State and senior instructor for Penn State PGA Golf Management, said the conference proved to be valuable.

“We appreciated the opportunity to learn from other faculty and staff regarding online instruction best practices,” Handley said. “Additionally, the conference provided a better perspective of how our college sees the future of online learning and the respective resources available.”

Serena Carlson, a student majoring in health policy and administration through the World Campus, served as a panelist during the conference. The panel discussion offered faculty members direct insights from students enrolled in the college’s online programs.

“My online learning experience through World Campus has been amazing,” Carlson said. “The curriculum is the same as if I were in-residence at University Park. I have appreciated that I have access to my instructors when needed. I have open dialogue with instructors and peers with course content.”

While enrolled at Penn State World Campus, Carlson also works full time and is a single mom to three children.

“Flexibility is key to my ability to manage a degree and still fulfill my commitments to my family and employer,” Carlson said.

Carlson plans to next pursue either a doctoral degree or law degree to facilitate policy change or new legislation related to health care.

The College of Health and Human Development began offering online courses through Penn State World Campus in 2000 and it has since grown to two graduate programs, three undergraduate programs, two certificates, one associate’s degree program, and various general education courses.

For the spring semester, the college had 55 instructors teaching more than 5,000 students enrolled in courses offered through the World Campus.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated May 16, 2017