Administration of Online Education


Online delivery of mathematics courses provides an increasingly important contribution to the educational mission and financial support for the Department. Administrative and financial guidelines are imperative aspects for providing an environment conducive of development and delivery of high quality online mathematics courses. This policy provides a structure which supports and integrates the work of the Director of Online Instruction in Mathematics (DOIM) into the regular departmental planning cycle.



  1. The Online Education Unit will operate with limited autonomy. Its mission is to design and deliver high quality online coursest. The DOIM is responsible for the operations of the unit.
  2. Recommendations for development of new online courses (including online versions of existing RI courses) should be made by the DOIM to the Undergraduate or Graduate Studies Committees as appropriate. 
  3. Upon consideration of Department resources and assessment of World Campus and Eberly College of Science needs for mathematics, the DOIM shall prepare each year  an online course development and delivery schedule plan which will encompass the subsequent three fiscal years.
  4. The DOIM will meet regularly with the Scheduling Group to determine how many sections of each available course should be offered online..  This discussion will also determine whether these courses are offered via RDC 2 (higher revenue return, Math covers instructional costs) or RDC GUP (lower revenue return; World Campus responsible for instruction). The DOIM shall recommend specific instructors for the online program at the time of the scheduling meeting; ultimately the assignment of instructors to courses is the responsibility of the department head.
  5. The DOIM/Online Education Unit will facilitate training and professional development for instructors in the online program to give them the skills to teach effectively in the online environment.
  6. The DOIM will arrange regular “virtual classroom visits” by senior faculty members to the courses given by online instructors, in parallel with the physical classroom visits organized by the Undergraduate Studies Committee.  Based on the results of these visits, student feedback, and other available metrics, the DOIM will write an annual review of each instructor’s contribution to online education. This review should be incorporated into the annual review process for faculty/instructors of the appropriate grade.

Financial Arrangements

  1. The College creates one cost center for each numbered section of each online course.  These cost centers are persistent from semester to semester.
  2. The department will additionally operate two cost centers related to the online education program: ONLINE EDUCATION and ONLINE DEVELOPMENT.
  3. Pro rata instructional costs for each specific section of an online course will be charged (by the college) directly to that section’s cost center.  This includes instructor stipends, grader and other course-specific costs, specifically billed instructional design and technical support costs.
  4. Course development costs for specifically identifiable online courses will be charged (by the college) to section 001 of that course.  This may include buy-outs of instructors time or other specific effort involved in course design/development.
  5. Twice yearly, accumulated  surplus from course cost centers will be deposited in EDUCATION.
  6. The following will be charged to EDUCATION: salary of DOIM (to the extent it is not already charged to specific course sections for which the DOIM acts as instructor);  technical support costs  related to the online program generally; staff costs related to the online program.
  7. Year-end surplus in EDUCATION shall be disbursed as follows:
    1.                                                     i.     90% returned to the department;
    2.                                                    ii.     10% will be put in DEVELOPMENT. 
  8. DEVELOPMENT is to be used at the discretion of the DOIM for the development of the program, e.g. training of instructors; professional development of instructors; professional development for DOIM, etc. (The 90%, 10% figures may be negotiated dependent on the program’s trajectory.)  Development of specific courses to be charged directly to those courses per (d) above.
  9. The department will initialize DEVELOPMENT with a positive balance.
  10. If the program consistently fails to make a significant return to the department it may be discontinued.
  11. The DOIM will review the entire program annually in the light of the Sloan Consortium Quality Scorecard for Online Education Programs and the Penn State University Quality Assurance Standards for online education, and report to the department head.