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Your Guide To Fall 2020 Class Delivery Methods

Ever since Penn State announced it would bring students back to campus this fall, different academic colleges, departments, and professors have worked to determine how courses would be taught this fall.

As those decisions are gradually made, you’ve probably noticed some changes to your fall semester schedule on LionPATH. But what do they actually mean?

Specifically, Penn State is utilizing four specific designations for its fall semester classes. Each has different meanings and ramifications, and learning the differences between them will be key to tackling what should be an…intersting semester. Below, you’ll find everything we know about course deliveries so far.


Hopefully, “in-person” should be pretty self-explanatory to you folks. These courses will likely be held in larger lecture halls this fall to ensure proper social distancing can take place. In fact, Penn State is working to move smaller classes into larger spaces to accomodate those needs.

However, don’t get your hopes up too much for an in-person class. They seem to be pretty few and far between lately. If you’re lucky enough to have one (or a few), they’ll show up like normal on LionPATH with designated meeting times and locations.


Mixed-mode seems to be the way to go for professors teaching smaller classes who prefer to keep some semblance of in-person learning in their lesson plans. On LionPATH, you’ll see this listed as “COVID MIXED-MODE.” However, how often you’ll actually meet on campus each week is left to professors and their departments.

Some possibilities for mixed-mode instruction include weekly rotations of students for in-person teaching, remote lectures with small-group, in-person work, or remote lectures with in-person lab components.

If your courses are listed as “nonstandard” in LionPATH, that typically implies mixed-mode delivery. Think of it almost as a purgatory for courses while faculty attempt to find a proper instruction space that will accommodate students and professors. If they can’t find a suitable lecture hall, these courses may move online entirely.

Remote Synchronous

This will likely be the most popular course delivery this semester. In a nutshell, remote synchronous delivery means you’ll take a specific class online at the same time it’d normally be delivered in-person. On LionPATH, these courses are marked as “ZOOM.”

This, of course, means that you’ll need to take your class at the exact same time as it would have been if it were on campus. If it’s at 9 a.m., it looks like you’ll still be getting up early. If your class is a late-night 6 to 9 p.m. extravaganza, make sure to make dinner beforehand. At least you’d be able to take those classes in the comfort of your PJs.

Remote Asynchronous

Last, remote asynchronous delivery is basically that of a typical online class. You’ll be able to work on assignments and lectures without specific meeting times or Zoom sessions. You wouldn’t need to show up for class or log on at any specific time unless notified by your professor throughout the semester. On LionPATH, you’ll find remote asynchronous delivery listed as “WEB.”

While there’s plenty to stress about as your classes get shuffled around in the next few weeks, remember that these changes are merely preliminary for now. Penn State plans to continue adjusting course deliveries over the next few weeks, with the goal of finalizing “most” by July 15.

Students are encouraged to reach out to their academic advisers to discuss their course deliveries and potentially make last-minute changes to their fall semester schedules.

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About the Author

Owen Abbey

Owen Abbey was a Secondary Education major before he graduated from the wonderful institution known as Penn State. When he was not writing for the blog, he enjoyed rooting for the Baltimore Orioles and Ravens, supporting Penn State basketball and softball, dreaming of all of the ways he would win the TV show "Survivor," and yes mom, actually doing school work. All of this work prepared him to teach his own class of students, which was always his true passion. He still can be found on Twitter @theowenabbey and can be reached for questions and comments at [email protected]

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