The Critical Zone



Sometimes, questions arise as to whom to contact about a certain issue. Generally, the following are the best options.

Discussion Forums (in Canvas)

  • For discussing, collaborating, and asking questions about lessons and general course issues.
  • You may find teaching assistants popping into discussion forums from time to time, but you should expect first and foremost your fellow students, and also the instructor, to respond there.

Conversations (in Canvas)

  • First, Please make sure you use Canvas to email your instructor (go to the Inbox in Canvas).
  • Check the relevant discussion forum first to see if your question might have already been asked and answered!
  • Email Instructor with questions regarding a graded assignment, course content questions, or a specific issue unique to a student's situation.

Reporting Technical Problems

If you experience technology problems in Drupal (course content) please contact your Instructor.  If you are a World Campus student and experience technology problems in Canvas, please contact the World Campus Help Desk. If you are a University Park or Commonwealth Campus student, please contact the IT Service Desk.

It is in your own best interest to be as specific as you possibly can. Vague descriptions of a problem only delay assistance; try to include information such as:

  • the specific course page, quiz question, etc., you were on, what you attempted to do when that failed, and the exact language of any error message displayed on your screen;
  • the date and time when your problem occurred;
  • any other pertinent information (does the problem happen consistently and always in the same way, etc.).

A member of the Help Desk will be in contact with you to offer assistance.


All official administrative communications from the Penn State World Campus are sent to students' Penn State email accounts. Be sure to check your Penn State account regularly or forward your Penn State email to your preferred email account, so you don't miss any important information.

For general questions about the course content and activities...

If you have any questions about the course content or activities, at any point in the course, please post them to our Questions? discussion forum (instead of using private e-mail), located under the Discussions tab in Canvas. That way everyone can benefit from seeing the question and the answer! I will check that discussion forum at least once per day, Monday through Friday, to respond. While you are there, feel free to post your own responses if you, too, are able to help out a classmate!

For questions of a personal nature...

If you have a question that you would prefer not to share with the rest of the class, such as about your grade, you are welcome to contact me by email, via Canvas, anytime. I usually am able to respond within 24 hours. Although e-mail correspondence is preferred, students may also contact me by telephone (see our syllabus for contact information) from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday. You should expect that all messages will be received and answered within 24 hours, but in rare cases, it may take me longer to get back to you.