Meaningful interactions among students and instructors are the hallmark of an successful online class. The two learning environments used in this Penn State course -- Canvas and Drupal -- support several kinds of communication, as described below.
Communications in Canvas
Each lesson in this course involves one or more graded discussions in which we will "talk" asynchronously about a scientific paper pertaining to the lesson topic or about teaching/learning strategies that go along with the lesson topic. These discussion forums can be accessed inside Canvas.
There are also two ungraded forums that are permanently available to you in Canvas: Questions? and Random Thoughts. These are good for when you run into trouble with an assignment or something technical with the course, or if you feel like sharing ideas, articles you found, or other stuff that doesn't necessarily pertain to the focused graded discussion.
I use Canvas in this course to give you feedback and grades on your problem sets because it is secure and makes PSU's lawyers happy. Once I have graded a problem set, you can go back and look at it. You should see comments in the Canvas comment box as well as text I have written into your problem set, normally in green font.
Communications via your PSU email account
The World Campus and Penn State will both use your PSU email account (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org) for official communications. If you want to have your PSU email forwarded to another email account, please visit http://work.psu.edu. Note that this is NOT THE SAME as specifying your email address in your Canvas system settings! If you set your PSU email to forward to another email address, then of course any email that is sent to your PSU address will go to the address you specify, but if you just set an address to forward to from Canvas then only emails originating inside Canvas will go to that other address, make sense? Maybe not, but trust me, I'm a doctor. Do both if you want to make sure, or else just get used to checking your PSU email account.
You can email your instructor directly or through Canvas if you need to talk about something you don't want the whole class to know about (Note this is eliza at psu.edu when Eliza teaches this class and mxh437 at psu.edu when Mike teaches this class). If you have a question about how to proceed on a problem set, or you want clarification of due dates, or something like that, it is better to post that to the Questions? discussion forum because then the whole class can profit from finding out the answer.