World Campus Instructional Designer Serving Our Country and Our Students!

Published by on Monday, March 7th, 2011 at 7:30 am
Filed under Course Design, Military and Veterans. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
Kristin Bittner

Instructional designer Kristin Bittner has more than 10 years of military service, and now she is helping Penn State World Campus better serve students in the military.

When choosing an online learning environment, what should you look for? What are your needs? Did you know that the delivery of online content to learners is most often done through a learning management system (or LMS)? Penn State World Campus currently uses the University Learning Management System, which is ANGEL 7.4.

Recently Kristin Bittner, Penn State World Campus instructional designer and an education officer for the Pennsylvania Air National Guard, contributed to an article titled “In the classroom – What to look for in an online course” by Jessica Lawson. The article was featured in Military Times EDGE, a publication dedicated to helping service members with strategies and tips relevant to both educational needs and professional careers.

According to Kristin, students should “choose a school based on quality, reputation, access, flexibility, delivery and technical support, not on the brand of course management system.” They all have advantages and disadvantages, Bittner said: “None of them are perfect. Each LMS brings a different set of strengths and weaknesses.”

At Penn State World Campus Learning Design “we redesign courses to be delivered online. We don’t just take a classroom course and put it online and expect it to work,” Bittner said. “Penn State faculty work with instructional design specialists and staff who help them make that transformation. Faculty are experts in their field — not experts on how to make something work in a learning management system.”

What will you find in a Penn State World Campus course?

“The syllabus, lesson content, links to reading materials, videos, discussion forums, activities, quizzes, and exams are all in one place,” Kristin says. “A student will also find video segments, simulations and graphics in the courses in order to help visualize certain concepts, she added. And some courses also use synchronous collaboration tools that allow student groups to meet to conduct course projects and allows faculty to provide tutoring sessions or short presentations.” Some examples of synchronous collaboration tools that Penn State World Campus uses are Elluminate Live!, Google Docs, Skype, and ANGEL chat.

Flexibility/Accessibility also is key…“There are some synchronous aspects of some of our courses,” Bittner said. “If an online course invites a guest speaker to speak live online with the class, we record the session so students can watch it later if they cannot attend in real-time. The courses I support tend to make these opportunities optional so students’ grades won’t suffer if they can’t attend. We design with all sorts of limitations in mind.”

Have questions or need technical support?

“Adult learners want their questions answered right away,” Bittner said. “At Penn State World Campus, you can call, e-mail or chat with tech support online. We also have an online knowledge base. There is a place to find an answer no matter what time it is.”

About Kristin: Prior to joining Penn State as an Instructional Designer with the online criminal justice and homeland security programs, Kristin was an instructional designer for Lockheed Martin and designed aircrew training for the U.S. Air Force.  She has 10 years of military service.

Kristin is currently working on developing a Faculty Development course to help faculty understand how to better serve the military student.  Are you serving in the military or come from a military background? Do you have a student experience you would like to pass along from that perspective? We would love to hear from World Campus students on how we can help you!

All quoted material in this blog post was originally published in Jessica Lawton’s article “In the classroom: What to look for in an online course” in Military Times Edge.

About Patty Gruneberg

I work in the Learning Design unit of World Campus as an instructional production specialist, where we are responsible for the innovation and production of high-quality online courses. My husband and I met at the HUB almost 30 years ago. We baptized our first son at Eisenhower Chapel, and he is now a graduate of Penn State. We have a bit of a love affair with Penn State - the school, the people, the history, and the world it touches. I am proud to be able to bring this to our World Campus students through my job in Learning Design! Read more about me.

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  • Ron Avila

    Will there be a time where access to ANGEL will be 24 hours? I notice that there is a Maintenance window everyday between 0001 to 0600

  • Patty Gruneberg

    Hi, Ron!

    Currently ANGEL maintenance is conducted from 4:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. U.S. Eastern Time daily, during which time ANGEL is unavailable. A message is posted during each maintenance period as a reminder.

    There are no plans at this time for 24-hour coverage since ANGEL uses this time to maintain and scan their server.

    Thanks for the question and we will keep you posted if anything changes!

  • Jeff Bauer

    Are professors currently understanding about the possible gaps in internet availability while on deployment or in my case with the Navy, working up to deployment? Because of our time out to sea and the limited bandwidth, there are times that getting online is nearly impossible; do professors take this into account and consequently accept assignments turned in later by necessity?

  • Patty Gruneberg

    Hi, Jeff!

    I have checked in with Kristin Bittner regarding your question. Here is what she has to say – “My advice to this student would be to let the instructor know early in the course about his/her situation. Most faculty are very understanding and accommodating when a student lets them know about possible gaps in communication ahead of time and can work with them to allow for special arrangements if necessary.”

    Hope this helps. Please let us know if you have any more questions! Thanks and take good care!