New resource to help faculty, advisers support online, remote students in crisis

March 26, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As Penn State has moved to remote instruction for the spring 2020 semester because of the coronavirus pandemic, the University is offering a new resource to help employees learn to identify and respond to online and remote learners who are in crisis.

A new online professional development course will open April 1 in Canvas, the University’s learning management system. It is offered through the online learning series of courses from Penn State World Campus Faculty Development, which offers a suite of professional development courses aimed at online instructors.

The course, Supporting World Campus Students in Distress, is self-directed and can be completed independently. The course is available to any Penn State instructor or employee who works with students.

Registration is now open.

The course was designed to help Penn State faculty and staff determine the most appropriate and efficient ways to support students with mental health concerns; address concerns about behavior and care; and locate the appropriate forms and resources. It was developed using expertise from the Penn State World Campus student affairs staff.

“This course was initially designed for faculty and advisers who interact with online learners, but this is an outstanding resource for anyone who is engaging with students,” said Ashley Adams, director, Penn State World Campus Student Affairs. “This type of information is always valuable — students might experience distress in their personal lives at any point in the semester. It’s important that faculty understand the indicators and the concerns they [students] present and how to make appropriate referrals to get them help.”

The course consists of two learning modules containing procedures, best practices, resources and case studies. It takes about three hours to complete.

The first module covers how faculty and staff can address mental health concerns based on case studies and data collected from the World Campus. It reviews indicators of distress, categorizes the level of student concern and discusses how to make the appropriate referrals for a situation.

In the second module, faculty and staff will learn how to address issues of student behavior and care. For instance, faculty and staff will learn how to distinguish between making a referral for a student’s behavior and when a student is experiencing a mental health issue.

The second module also provides resources, such as the forms for making referrals for student care and concern, or student conduct. It also contains resources for course and classroom management, such as addressing disruptive statements and supporting students who have experienced a natural disaster or violent crime.

Visit the Penn State World Campus Faculty Development website for more information about the course.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 26, 2020