About Us

The John A. Dutton e-Education Institute is the learning design unit for the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. We work in close partnership with the College's five academic departments to design, develop, and manage the College's online certificate and degree programs, as well as to support EMS faculty in the delivery of resident instruction offerings.

The College of EMS serves as a leader in distance teaching and learning at Penn State. To date, our College boasts 19 certificate and degree programs online and more than 130 online courses. We have been able to extend the reach of a high-quality, rigorous, and research-based Penn State education to more than 5,900 undergraduates and more than 1,250 working adult professionals around the globe.

Embodying the Best Practices in e-Education

The Institute's experienced team of learning designers and multimedia and web-based technology specialists partner with EMS faculty to cultivate the College’s capacity to create online courses and programs that embody the best practices of e-Education. Each general phase of our learning design process—analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation—is informed by tested pedagogical and androgogical learning theories and practices.

Our learning design team also keeps close tabs on the ever-changing horizon for technology and pedagogy innovations and affordances that can enhance our online learning environments. In addition to identifying and piloting promising new technologies, we have developed numerous tools and resources that help our students and faculty to reach their learning and teaching goals.

The Future of e-Learning in EMS

In the next five years, our focus will be on innovation, endurance, and diversity. Together we will strive to:

  • Prepare the College of EMS’ faculty, staff, and learners for the changing landscape of higher education. Current dividing lines between online and face-to-face teaching and learning will disappear. New pedagogical and technological affordances make learning any time, any place a reality for all. We will develop innovative methods, technologies, and tools that enrich and enhance the teaching and learning environment. So-called “difficult” pedagogical strategies will be possible inside and outside the classroom. We will shift the focus from “developing content” to “creating learning experiences.” We will personalize the learning experience by providing learning environments that are flexible, "smart," and inherently interesting. We will make participation in engaged scholarship opportunities possible for all EMS learners.
  • Design and implement models for self-sustaining academic programs that emphasize quality in student outcomes and value to the College of EMS. We will work in partnership with the College’s academic units to create new courses and programs that continue to reflect the College’s strategic initiatives. Courses and programs, at the undergraduate and graduate levels, will showcase the research and teaching strengths of the College. We will support faculty, staff, and learners through the lifecycle phases of educational research, design, delivery, support, and reinvention – creating resources that can be shared across the University for the benefit of all. Online learning will be integrated into the culture of the College.
  • Provide seamless access to an EMS education driven by learner needs, regardless of location or situation. Gone will be barriers in the learner’s path, replaced by increased access to courses and programs for residential and online learners. Expanded online University learning and extracurricular resources will eliminate distinctions between the online and face-to-face world and will enable us to build stronger learning communities. We will reproduce and expand the engagement that takes place in University classrooms, hallways, and social spaces to connect all EMS learners. We will better connect residential and online learners with each other and with resources that support and enrich their educational experiences. Improved financial aid will become a resource for programs that are "non-standard" by design. Proactive usability strategies for learners with disabilities will improve the educational experience for all. Culturally relevant curricula will address the needs of local and global learners. “Classrooms” will become more diverse and more inclusive than ever.

For more information, see our latest Dutton Institute Strategic Plan 2015-19.

Supporting Our Work

Through the support of the College’s leadership, the Dutton Institute operates on a cost-recovery basis, returning net tuition revenues to our academic departments. In order to accomplish all of our goals, we will need to increase financial support for our students, pedagogical and technological innovation, and program development. We will focus our development efforts on:

  • creating scholarship opportunities for our students to make their continued education affordable;
  • discovering funding sources that can be used to support innovation; and
  • identifying resources to off-set program start-up costs so we can anticipate and address market needs while remaining fiscally responsible.

Want to help?

For more information about how you can support the College’s e-Learning initiatives, please contact:

Ann H. Taylor
Assistant Dean for Distance Learning and Director, John A. Dutton e-Education Institute
College of Earth and Mineral Sciences
The Pennsylvania State University
Phone: 814.863.9070
E-mail: AnnTaylor@psu.edu