What content belongs in my course?

College of IST resources, course committees, and faculty leadership provide guidance in defining what belongs in a course.

Review course documentation and sample syllabi

Find details on the course(s) you will teach on the courses tab on this website, and navigate to the pages for the course(s) you are assigned. Course pages include:

  • Sample syllabi
  • Link to Course Committee membership for the course
  • Course descriptions and specifications from the University Bulletin, Faculty Senate course documentation, and occasionally Course Committee documentation with detailed information about course learning objectives

Connect with those who have responsibility for managing course content

For undergraduate courses, contact the following people:

For graduate courses in the Master’s Programs or graduate courses in the Doctoral Program, contact Graduate Program Director listed in the IST New Faculty Teaching Preparation Start Now guide.

Request Canvas course shells, content templates, and learning design support

Canvas is the Learning Management System from which faculty teach at Penn State. Place requests for Canvas course shells, content templates, and learning design support according to whether you are teaching a World Campus (WC) course or a residential instruction (RI) course.

  • If you are teaching a World Campus (WC) course, your course section in Canvas will be populated with a copy of the World Campus Course Template (including content).
  • Contact ISTLearningDesign@psu.edu with questions about your Canvas course section.
  • If you are teaching a Resident Instruction (RI) course, request a Residential Instruction Canvas shell that is set up for you to pull into your Canvas course space. The shell provides the common Canvas structure most often used in College of IST courses. You can build your course content inside the shell. Request a shell on the Course Copy Request form–scroll to the bottom of the course number list to see the “RI Shell” selection.
  • In addition, if a World Campus (WC) version exists for your course, viewing the assignments, the instructional media, and any supplemental videos will provide you with ideas for your course. Keep in mind that WC courses differ in pace and in intended student populations (i.e., adult students). You will need to modify to fit the needs of residential students. Especially if no other course materials are available from colleagues, consider requesting a copy of the World Campus (WC) course template.

Read the course entry in the University Bulletin

The University’s Undergraduate Bulletin and Graduate Bulletin are the official University sources of course and program information. Consult the Bulletin page for your assigned course and the Bulletin page for the program to which your course belongs (for undergraduate courses, see the listing of courses by major) to find the following information:

  • Where in a student’s program sequence your assigned course falls
  • Whether the course is required or optional
  • What students should know from prerequisite courses
  • Which courses follow after your assigned course

Consider the context of your course, so that you will understand students’ prior knowledge and interest level; and plan accordingly.

Maintain the 80/20 rule for course content

In the College of IST, we refer to the 80/20 guideline for course content. That is, a course should be defined with enough specificity that students can be held accountable for the same general learning outcomes for 80% of the content across all sections of the course. An instructor may use the other 20% of the course to cater to the specific needs of students at a particular campus location and/or to highlight the instructor’s own area of specialty.

Exceptions to the 80/20 guideline include special topics courses in both graduate and undergraduate programs (indicated with a “97” at the end of the three-digit course number) and also “402: Emerging Technologies” courses. The content in these types of course offerings is intended to be unique. If you are assigned to teach either of these types of courses, contact the appropriate person.