Penn State World Campus faculty and staff members will get a chance to meet face to face this week.
The third annual World Campus Faculty Convocation will convene today and Tuesday at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel and will feature various discussions and break out sessions.
Andrew Tatusko, assistant director for faculty development for Penn State Outreach and Online Education, said the conference is helpful for faculty and staff because it allows those who work at a distance from campus and from each other to get the chance to interact.
“Faculty who teach at a distance can get to know each other and deepen their connections to Penn State,” Tatusko, an organizer of the conference, said.
Brandon Vesely , a news bureau intern at Penn State Outreach and Online Education, said Rena Palloff will be the convocation’s keynote speaker as part of the Center for Online Innovation in Learning’s Fischer Speaker Series.
Other highlights of the conference are a discussion about MOOC, or Massive Open Online Courses, and a student panel, Vesely (junior-public relations and Spanish) said.
The convocation will run from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to the conference schedule . Tatusko said turnout is expected to be around 170 participants.
Larry Ragan , the university director of the Center for Online Innovation in Learning, said this year’s keynote speaker will be able to specifically help instructors improve their online teaching techniques.
Ragan said Palloff has both taught online and written about the best ways to do so, and he thinks she will be able to “highlight for faculty sort of the practical dimensions of how to be the most effective online instructor,” he said.
And Tatusko said the conference will go along with this year’s theme.
“It’s going to be kind of a cool event because we’re bringing in people from all over Penn State who support faculty with these things,” he said. “It will be a nice rich experience, which is a part of our theme this year, which is ‘Deepening Our Connections.’ ”
Ragan said that when it comes to online learning, the quality of the instructor is important.
And he said the convocation helps increase teachers’ classroom skills through interactions with each other and exchanging ideas.
“Face to face communities when they're possible are extremely powerful environments for people to learn form each other,” Ragan said.
Mindy Szkaradnik can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @mszkarad.