A-10: Online Courses

A-10: Online Courses


To establish policies to deliver administratively approved “online courses” for Penn State Harrisburg, the Capital College, that facilitate instruction, which provide structured online experiences through course management software and other media for quality student learning at a distance recognizing that in-residence learning is still our mission.   All courses offered as a hybrid or online course must go through the approved process prior to being offered at Penn State Harrisburg.


Online courses use digital technologies to provide learning with multimedia sources; allow for multiple learning strategies; comply with University policies concerning access; include flexible scheduling; integrate off-campus, technology-based learning, student-faculty and student-student interaction; and broaden the concept of learning communities.


Defining an Online Course

An online course is delivered entirely online, with no required classroom sessions. Some courses may require proctored exams. Students may be enrolled in courses offered by a single campus or in courses originated by multiple campuses. The schedule of courses designates online courses by indicating WEB in the Day/Time column, and indicates a Digital Learning Cooperative course with ELEARNING in the Section Info column. All courses that are listed as WEB must go through the consultation steps and approval process listed below.

Consultation and Approval

  1. The Program Faculty should meet to determine which courses are appropriate to offer as an online course for the Program and designate a course author.
  2. Once a program has identified courses suitable for online delivery, the author is strongly encouraged to take a self-assessment to determine if an online course would be compatible with the instructor’s style.
  3. The course author must complete the Request for Proposal for Online Course Development Form, gain the signature of Program Leadership, and submit the proposal to the School Director at least two semesters before the course is to be offered for his/her approval.
  4. The course author must sign the AD-69 Agreement.
  5. The School Director will submit all approved proposals with the  Center for Teaching Excellence to arrange for an initial with the proposer and the development of an action plan.
  6. Faculty will then work with an Instructional Designer in the Center for Teaching Excellence to develop the course.

Development of Online Courses

The length of time needed for a online course redesign varies based on the faculty member’s prior experience in online teaching, learning, and course design, the amount of time the faculty member can devote to the redesign effort, the amount of revision required, the number of online sessions to be designed, and the need for multimedia development. Typically, at least two full semesters of design and development time are needed to create a new online course

All online course development completed in the Center for Teaching Excellence follows the design standards set by the Penn State Quality Assurance Standards. The standards are intended to provide a measure of quality assurance for online courses to serve the e-learning needs of Penn State students. In addition, the Center for Teaching Excellence adheres to Senate Policy 42-23 and ensures that all course meet the hours of equivalent instruction.

The faculty member is the subject matter expert who provides the course content. The instructional designer lends expertise in implementing the course in a professional and pedagogically sound manner.

We recommend that each course is reviewed every three (3) years at a minimum to determine if an online course is still needed and to revise/update content.

Intellectual property rights

Faculty should read and understand the University’s policy regarding intellectual property rights by referring to the University’s Policy IP03, Courseware. Additionally, school directors must present faculty with the Courseware Copyright Agreement to be completed for each course prior to the start of its online development

Assessing online courses

Online courses should be available for peer review as any other class offered at the College. Once the online course is developed, either the Program Leadership and/or School Director will preview the proposed course to ensure that it meets School and College standards of quality. For this review, faculty peers or administrators should use the Peer Review Guide for Online Teaching at Penn State instrument.

Presented to College Faculty Senate: March 22, 2012
Approved by Academic Council: April 24, 2012
Revision presented to College Faculty Senate: October 26, 2017
Approved by Academic Council: November 29, 2017