Teaching in Liberal Arts

Consultation Request Form

Please complete the Consultation Request Form below to be contacted for a virtual consultation via Zoom. Representatives from the Office of Digital Pedagogy and Scholarship and the Filippelli Institute will assist you in getting your course online. We will try to respond to you as quickly as possible during regular working hours (M-F, 9am – 5pm).

Teaching Technology

We recommend using Canvas as your online teaching platform.  If you choose not to work with Canvas, we recommend that you use another online platform supported by Penn State to manage teaching, grading, and grade-keeping duties.

Note that slides with audio can be uploaded to CANVAS. While this doesn’t necessarily support synchronous classes directly, if you have the slides up, students can work through them while you hold a synchronous discussion board chat, also in CANVAS.

Holding Examinations within Canvas

Importing Question Pools
  • Question pools of peer-reviewed questions are available for entry-level courses in certain Liberal Arts disciplines. These are questions created through the Unizin Consortium
  • Liberal Arts Disciplines with questions available:
    • Political Science – American Government
    • Psychology – Introduction to Psychology
    • Economics – Principles of Macroeconomics
    • Economics – Principles of Microeconomics
    • Spanish – Basic Spanish (present-tense only)
    • History – American History to 1877
  • For more information about available questions and/or assistance with adding questions into your Canvas space, contact TLT at continuity@psu.edu

Importing questions from MS Word documents into Canvas
  • There are two options available for quickly uploading text versions of your questions to Canvas, without needing to copy and paste into the Canvas creation tools:  Uploading with Excel and Uploading with Respondus
  • Using the Excel method: Kansas State University offers detailed steps for arranging your question information in a spreadsheet, then uploading your question data as a CSV file to create an import file Canvas can read.
  • Using Respondus: Respondus is a Windows-based application that allows you to import questions from a MS Word file. From there, you can export entire question banks in a file that Canvas can read.

  • Remoteteaching.psu.edu includes a guide to Adapting Assessments which details a variety of approaches you might take to move assessments online, as well as supporting tools to consider. In addition, the Exam Proctoring Options guide details considerations and options for maintaining the security of your exams in the new remote learning environment.
  • Schreyer Institute consultants are offering Zoom office hours focused on effective ways to assess student learning in remote contexts. Faculty and grad students who teach are invited to join these conversations at psu.zoom.us/j/120154158.
  • You may find it useful to use the “Quiz Audit Log” feature in Canvas.  This log captures when students viewed quiz pages, answered questions, changed answers, or stopped viewing quiz pages.  Students should take the quiz on a laptop or desktop using Chrome or Firefox;  the log does not seem to track correctly when students are using the Canvas iOS app or Safari Web browser.

Zoom is the tool Penn State uses to deliver lectures synchronously. It allows you to share your screen, talk to the class, and even have breakout small group discussions. 

  • For help with either Zoom or Microsoft Office products, submit a ticket to https://it.la.psu.edu.
  • Muting participants: We recommend that instructors mute all of their students until you are seeking questions or other input.  While muted, students can us chat or raise their hand for the faculty member to unmute them. 
  • Attendee On Hold” allows the host to stop video and audio transmission to a participant or participants. This allows others to continue the meeting while temporarily preventing “held” participants from seeing and hearing others. 
  • Removing Attendee from Zoom: You can remove a participant or unwanted attendee. Click “Manage Participant” at the bottom of the zoom window. Next to the person you want to remove, click “more.” From the list that appears, click “remove.”
  • For added security in Zoom meetings, you should consider enabling authentication. Penn State IT’s guide on Preventing and Managing Meeting Disruptions outlines the steps for requiring students to sign in using their official Penn State login information.

For more information about navigating Zoom, contact Penn State IT Learning and Development to set up or attend a training session. You can also read their informal Q&A’s.

Helpful Suggestions from Instructors for Using Zoom:

  1. Make sure your own video/audio equipment is working!
  2. Make sure you’re the host of the meeting.  This gives you the ability to do all necessary functions.  Look up on Zoom how to find and use your host key.
  3. MUTE everyone, and don’t allow them to unmute themselves (this may be better advice for large classes than for small discussion-based courses, but if participants are unmuted, noise can be a major disruption).  While muted, students can chat or electronically raise their hand for the faculty member to unmute them.  Steps for muting all participants
  4. Don’t allow students to annotate, or they can scribble on the screen.
  5. The chat function is very useful.  I even had students helping other students who were having audio troubles.
  6. Mention to the students that the chat is publicly viewable (so they post appropriately).
  7. Keep the chat window viewable to you while you’re doing the lecture.
  8. Ask “the chat” for feedback.  From my experience, students are more likely to give quick answers in the chat compared to raising a hand in class.

Kaltura is a web-based multimedia tool that is integrated into Canvas and Zoom. It allows you interactive quizzes into your Zoom or Canvas lessons. For more information, visit here.

If you have a recent version of PowerPoint, you can record narration through the Slide Show menu and then save as a video. Good for lectures, however, is not a synchronous form of delivery, such as Zoom, which is preferred. 

  • In PowerPoint, select “Slide Show” and then “Record Slide Show”. You’ll likely want to turn off “timings” by un-clicking it and not use timings if you rerecord. Do this with “Record Slide Show” then “Clear” and then clear the timings on all slides or the current one. You can also delete narrations on all slides with these steps.
  • Next, instead of saving as a pptx file, save as an mp4 file. This can take a few minutes, so check the progress bar at the bottom of the PowerPoint window. The resulting file can be uploaded into Canvas. Note that any extra slides in your deck will be recorded as well, so you’ll want your deck to only contain the slides for the intended video.
  • You’ll also likely want to check out keyboard shortcuts for writing with a “pen” on your slides as you’re talking, using a “laser” pointer to illustrate points, blanking the screen, and so on.

Students can upload audio as well (for example if you are evaluating speeches), using VoiceThread or Kaltura Capture. Both integrated with Canvas.

To enable Kaltura Capture:

  • In Canvas go to: Settings/Navigation/My Media and click on enable
  • Download Kaltura Capture – this is now on the list of PSU Self Service software.
  • Students will need to download the software individually, once they record their speeches they can be uploaded
  • To upload such assignments. Instructors needs to click on media file to allow for uploads within the assignment itself.

Support around accessibility and the transition to remote teaching is available.  Please submit the  Accessibility Consultation Form for assistance with accessible digital course materials, lecture technology, Canvas, captioning, or any other accessibility questions. Students with computer/Wi-Fi/accessibility needs should contact the IT Service Desk (ITservicedesk@psu.edu).

The original FAQ section on remoteteaching.psu.edu incorrectly stated that we are required to obtain student consent to record a live class. Here is the updated question and response:

  • Q: Can I record my class via Zoom?
  • A: Yes, you may do this, but you need to securely store the recordings and destroy them at the end of the semester. If you intend to use the recordings after the end of the semester, any type of identifying information must be removed. In addition, you must inform students that they are being recorded by sharing the following language with them: “Video and audio recordings of class lectures will be part of the classroom activity.  The video and audio recording is used for educational use/purposes and only may be made available to all students presently enrolled in the class. For purposes where the recordings will be used in future class sessions/lectures, any type of identifying information will be adequately removed.

For information about copyright law and considerations for using copyrighted materials in remote teaching, visit the remote teaching page on the University Libraries Copyright Information website. In general, use of any materials in your remote course should be in compliance as long as you follow two general guidelines:

  • Limit access to copyrighted material to only students registered for your course. (Sharing materials through Canvas keeps them password protected, and helps to ensure that only registered students have access.)
  • Provide only those copyrighted materials that students need in order to complete the course.

Copyright officers are available to answer questions and provide further guidance during virtual office hours and by email. Please visit the remote teaching page for more contact information.

Technical Assistance

Can I use my personal computer/device for teaching and/or research?
How do I get remote access to my office machine?
How do I enable attendees on hold via Zoom?
  • Attendee On Hold allows the host to stop video and audio transmission to a participant or participants. This allows others to continue the meeting while temporarily preventing any participants who are on hold from seeing and hearing the other participants.

How do I use a virtual background in Zoom?
  1. Make sure that you have at least two devices paired with DUO for two factor authentications. More information can be found here –  https://accounts.psu.edu/2fa
  2. When entering your phone number at https://myvoip.psu.edu, make sure to include ‘8’ before your 11 digit phone number to get outside of the Penn State network. Your number should look something like this: 818145550123. This will allow you to forward your calls to a mobile device.
  3. Computers and related products are often considered “high touch” items especially those that are shared among family members. As such, routine cleaning and disinfecting of computer surfaces in common shared locations is recommended. These guidelines can also be used for the personal care and disinfecting of your individual computer products. View Computer Cleaning Guide.

Using certain applications and software will make your remote work journey with Penn State simple.


We support products from Apple and Dell in a desktop or laptop configuration. Our recommended configuration will be based on your specific technical needs. We will discuss your needs and preferences when we talk with you during onboarding.

Office 365:

Penn State uses Microsoft Office 365, which empowers you to create, collaborate, and innovate through a host of applications. These tools, such as their email, calendar, and file-share, can be accessed from anywhere in the world, at any time, on any device. Through Office 365, you can seamlessly schedule meetings, share documents, and initiate collaborations in one secure and consistent platform. With over fifteen applications, including the Microsoft Office Suite, you have more ways to unleash your productivity than ever before. The Office 365 Training and Assistance page will give you a good understanding of all that the suite offers.

G Suite for Education:

Penn State is partnered with Google to bring G Suite for Education, a cloud-based collection of applications, to the University. This will help enhance teaching, foster learning, and facilitate research. Penn State G Suite accounts include eight core applications: Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Meet and Chat, Sites, and Jamboard. The G Suite Training and Applications page will give you a good overview of all that the G Suite offers.


Penn State’s email solution is Outlook, which is part of Office 365. You must configure two-factor authentication at 2fa.psu.edu. Then, you will be able to check your email at office365.psu.edu.

Fall 2020 Online Teaching Q&A Sessions

General questions related to teaching in the Fall 2020 semester. 

Spring 2020 Online Teaching Q&A Sessions

General questions with Associate Dean, Richard Page. This video references our “General Q and A Meeting Notes” document.

Tips for managing large classes and preventing Zoom-bombing. Lindsey Kiraly and Amanda Jones, both from IT Learning and Development, joined the conversation to talk about Tech TA’s and Tech Tutors. This video references our “Faculty and Student Challenges” document.

Resources and best practices around providing student support. Kate Staley from CAPS joined the session to share how CAPS is still supporting students remotely.

Tips and best practices for engaging students through remote teaching tools.

Strategies for assessment in remote classrooms. This video references our “Academic Integrity Reminders” document.

Tips and best practices for remote teaching with Zoom and Canvas.

Academic Integrity

Faculty and students alike are part of an academic community in which the sharing and advancement of knowledge are core values. High standards of academic integrity must be in place to ensure that this intellectual enterprise functions smoothly. Learn more at:

University Resources

Delivery of fall curriculum will occur through a highly flexible mix of in-person, remote, and online instruction throughout the semester. Visit https://keepteaching.psu.edu/ for resources to help Penn State faculty access the information they need to teach courses this fall.