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Looking for help in teaching an online course? Confused about the various platforms and course offerings? Here are some questions and answers to point you to the right resources.

If you have a question not answered here, please get in touch with us.

Online Program Teams

Frequently Asked Questions

I’d like to teach online or move my course online, where do I start?

If you’re a current Penn faculty member the first step in this process is to identify resources within your home school that can provide information on internal approval processes and connect you with your school’s instructional design resources. CETLI can help by connecting you to those resources.

If I decide to teach online, who is available to help me?

You are encouraged to partner with your school’s instructional design staff to support teaching online. In addition to the resources offered by CETLI, the Penn Libraries also has support services for teaching and learning.

I’d like to try a new pedagogical strategy in my online course. What are my options?

CETLI can assist you in identifying the resources available in your school that support aspects of teaching online. You can also review CETLI’s Teaching Online resources or contact us for more information.

Ready to create an online educational experience?

Contact us! Our team can set up a meeting to discuss next steps and walk you through the process of creating an online course or program.

What is a MOOC?

A MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course. MOOCs are non-credit online learning experiences focused on a specific skill or topic over 4-6 modules (or 4-6 weeks) or a series of courses. The massive part of MOOC means that courses have a high number of learners participating. The open part of MOOC means that anyone (over the age of 13) can participate. While some MOOCs may be free, most require payment to earn a certificate or to participate in assessments. Completing a University of Pennsylvania MOOC does not result in University of Pennsylvania academic credit and does not give learners Penn student status.

What is Coursera?

Coursera is a MOOC provider that works with hundreds of universities, companies, and other organizations to offer online content including open courses and programs. Additionally, Coursera offers degree and certificate programs to learners around the world.

What is edX?

edX is the online learning platform for the digital learning company 2U, Inc. edX offers educational opportunities from hundreds of universities, companies and other organizations. Online offerings include MOOCs and open programs, degree and certificate programs, and boot camps for learners around the world.

What is the Penn Online Learning Platform?

The Platform is an interactive e-commerce site that enables the public to browse, apply for, pay for, enroll in and access Penn’s online offerings. Learning experiences listed on the Platform include Penn-hosted non-credit offerings, degrees and certificates, and Penn MOOCs hosted by Coursera and edX. All Penn schools can list any of their online offerings on the site free of charge.

CETLI also offers expert level support to the Penn schools, programs, and staff who are hosting those offerings by managing all UX/UI, application process, enrollments, payments, reporting, and providing technical, and customer support to learners and School Program Partners.

What is Canvas?

Canvas is a learning management system used to support for-credit and some non-credit courses at the University of Pennsylvania.

What is a certificate?

The term “certificate” has many meanings. At the University of Pennsylvania, you have a variety of options for providing different types of certificates. Credit certificates result in University of Pennsylvania academic credit, while non-credit certificates may be offered in the form of continuing education units (CEUs) or an executive education credential, or through Coursera or edX.

What is a “Specialization”?

A Coursera Specialization is a group of non-credit online learning experiences to help you master a specific skill or topic. Most Specializations are short, consisting of three to five self-paced courses completed over a few months.

Where do I go for help with Canvas?

The Canvas at Penn site includes helpful guides to Canvas and other educational technology tools. If you need immediate assistance, submit an online help request or check out your school-specific contact information.  

If Penn instructors need help integrating technology in their online course, where should they go?

Contact our Instructional Design and Technology team, review CETLI’s Teaching with Technology resource or Penn Libraries  teaching and learning services to talk about tools and strategies that will help you achieve your instructional goals. 

Where can I go for assistance with Coursera or edX?

Course teams can access self-guided materials through Coursera’s Educator Resource Center or edX Docs. Please note that you will need to log in with your Coursera or edX account. Or email Partner Support to create a support ticket:

You’re also welcome to get in touch with us for guidance.

If you are have a learner with non-content related inquiries (payments, log-in issues, accessing certificates) they should be referred to Coursera’s Learner Help Center or edX Learner Help Center.

Do learners earn University of Pennsylvania credit in a Coursera or edX course?

No. While Penn MOOCs offered through our partner platforms may draw on material from courses taught on-campus, they are not equivalent to a for-credit course and completion of a MOOC does not constitute enrollment or credit at Penn. Coursera/edX verifies a learner’s completion of a course based on the requirements set by Penn MOOC course teams, but Penn is not able to verify learners’ completion due to privacy protections.