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Teaching

Learn how to become an OLLI instructor, propose your course, and teach effectively.

If I knew teaching for OLLI would be this much fun, I would have retired earlier!

— Kathryn McClintock, OLLI instructor

About Teaching at OLLI University Park

Do you have an area of expertise you are passionate about? Become an OLLI instructor and share your time and talents teaching other lifelong learners. OLLI welcomes anyone who is interested to be an instructor — from those who have taught in university or school settings to those with no formal teaching experience who simply have their desire to share their passion for a particular art, hobby, topic, or interest.

Many instructors have shared that teaching for OLLI has been some of the most rewarding teaching experiences of their lives. OLLI learners are intelligent, vibrant, and engaged. They bring to the classroom a wisdom, maturity, and depth of experience that is difficult to find in younger learners. Many instructors also cherish the opportunity to teach without worrying about grades, homework, and tests.

OLLI instructors are volunteers, however, they receive a complimentary OLLI membership as a thank you ($50 value).

How to Propose a Course

Have an idea for a course you’d like to teach? Refer to the table below for proposal deadlines and then submit a course proposal form. The program specialist will contact you to confirm and schedule your course for the requested semester.

Deadlines to Propose a Course
Semester Proposal Deadline Instructors Contacted to Confirm Course and Dates
Fall
September–November
March 31 Mid-May
Spring
February–May 
September 30 Early November
Summer
June–July
January 31 Late February

Propose Your Course

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Managing Your Course

OLLI is offering courses in several formats to meet both instructor and member needs while continuing the mission of OLLI. Course formats are:

  • Online via Zoom
  • In-person
  • Hybrid

Course Duration

As an OLLI instructor, you determine the number of meeting times your course requires. A course may consist of one session or multiple sessions.

Presentation Development Support

Once you have determined the content and supporting materials for your course, support is available to:

  • help you determine which delivery method (i.e., in-person, online, or hybrid) may best suit your course
  • discuss additional audio-visual equipment needs
  • assist in digitizing photos, documents, or other materials
  • demonstrate how to develop an electronic presentation (i.e., PowerPoint presentation)
  • share best practices for teaching online and with PowerPoint

Please contact the OLLI office for additional information.

Additional Course Fees and Materials

Many OLLI courses charge fees beyond tuition to cover the cost of materials. These additional fees need to be described in the Course Proposal Form and catalog. If you will be providing materials for which you will be receiving a reimbursement, the amount that you list in the catalog (in excess of OLLI’s tuition cost) will be reimbursed to you at the conclusion of the semester, following Penn State guidelines.

You can ask participants to supply or purchase materials or a book. A list of supplies and/or books needed, and any costs should be included on your Course Proposal Form so that they can be included in the catalog or emailed to the class in advance.

Course Handouts

The OLLI office can make copies of handouts or you may reproduce handouts at your own expense.

Course Descriptions, Restrictions, and Locations

If your course involves physical activity, you will need to detail the fitness level necessary for participation in the course description. If your course requires previous knowledge or experience, your description in the catalog needs to indicate that the course is not for beginners.

Most course locations have been chosen not only for their suitability for instruction but also for their ample and free parking. If you must instruct on campus or in a downtown location, parking may be an issue and your course description should alert participants to the closest paid parking.

Course Cancellation

In case of inclement weather, OLLI follows the State College Area School District (SCASD) closures. If SCASD announces a full day closure, all OLLI courses that day are cancelled. If SCASD announces a two-hour delay, OLLI courses will be held. If an early dismissal due to weather is announced, OLLI afternoon courses are cancelled.

Waiting Lists

Once your course has reached the maximum number of participants you have requested, those wishing to enroll are placed on a waiting list. If a spot opens, the OLLI office will contact people on the waiting list to try to fill the opening. If there are more than just a few people on the waiting list, you may be asked to offer a second section of the same course. You may choose to do so, or not.

Course Feedback

Following the completion of the course, participants will be emailed an online course feedback form. Participants are given one week to complete the feedback form. OLLI’s staff reviews all the forms and will provide a summary report of the feedback to you at the end of the semester. In addition, feedback is shared with curriculum committee to assist with planning for future semesters.

You will also be emailed an online feedback form about your experience as an OLLI instructor. We want to know what we can do to better assist our volunteer instructors. The OLLI staff will review all instructor feedback.

Penn State and OLLI Policies

  • Volunteer instructors are responsible for developing their own course content.
  • Promotion or solicitation of products or services is prohibited.
  • Courses should not include tests.
  • If outside sources or research are utilized, they should be documented in the presentation.

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Classroom Setup and Support

In-person courses are held on Penn State’s University Park campus and at offsite locations in the region (State College, Penns Valley, Philipsburg, Lewistown, Huntingdon, and Altoona area). OLLI occasionally schedules classroom courses at community facilities. OLLI will coordinate with the instructor and site staff to provide classroom and technology support.

Classroom Setup in the Outreach Building

OLLI University Park’s classrooms are located on the first floor of the Outreach Building, 100 Innovation Boulevard, in Innovation Park. The facility is completely accessible. Classrooms are set-up with technology to allow courses to be offered in hybrid format; teaching to a live audience with an online audience joining via Zoom.

Classroom equipment:

  • White board
  • Large screen
  • Penn State Wi-Fi and Penn State LAN internet access
  • Computer desktop podium
  • Speakers and ceiling microphones
  • Video projector w/ HDMI connection
  • Polycom/Zoom technology
  • Lapel microphones (2)
  • Document camera (Room 119 only)

Instructors are encouraged to contact the OLLI University Park office to discuss their specific technology needs and arrange for a time to view their scheduled classroom prior to their course date.

For facility tours and outdoor programming, additional audio amplification is available.

Reminders for classroom set-up:

  1. Plan to arrive at your classroom with plenty of time to set up before your class is to begin. OLLI staff or volunteers will meet you in the classroom to assist with set-up. Please remember to place your parking permit on your car dashboard when you arrive for your course.
  2. Bring your presentation on a thumb drive to provide optimal connection to the room set-up. If bringing a laptop, please contact the OLLI office to ensure we have the correct equipment to connect to the classroom presentation system.
  3. If the course is offered in hybrid format, OLLI staff or volunteers will setup and manage the Zoom session.
  4. Wear a microphone to project to all participants.

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Online (Zoom) Course Setup and Support

Zoom videoconferencing is used to deliver online OLLI courses. Instructors may teach from their office, home, or in the classroom to an online audience. Using videoconferencing, instructors will be able to communicate with students and share PowerPoint and other presentations, web pages, and videos.

OLLI provides Zoom support for anyone needing help. An instructor training session for online and hybrid courses is offered each semester.

Learn about teaching online and hybrid courses with OLLI (PPT).

Teaching on Zoom:

  • OLLI staff will set up and host the Zoom session. Each online course will be assigned a Virtual Assistant. A confirmation email with the course Zoom link and the contact for instructor’s Virtual Assistant will be emailed prior to the course start date.
  • You may schedule a practice session with the Virtual Assistant in advance to familiarize yourself with Zoom functions, practice sharing your presentation, test audio/visual components, and discuss the logistics of the course. You should be prepared to share your screen for a Power Point or slide presentation. If you need help with this Zoom feature, let your Virtual Assistant know prior to your course date. If you will be showing a video as part of your presentation, notify your Virtual Assistant to set up a practice session to check the video quality over Zoom.
  • Provide class participants with handouts in advance. Email the handouts to Spring Younkin at ser126@psu.edu to have them forwarded to the participants.
  • Make your presentation slides and visual aids easy to read and see. Keep slides simple, increase font size, and use more graphics to represent the points you are making.
  • On the day of the course, restart your computer to ensure all updates are completed. Keep minimal windows open during the presentation (close email, web browsers, etc.).
  • Join 15 minutes early to test sharing your presentation.
  • The Virtual Assistant will introduce the instructor and manage the questions for the instructor.

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Propose Your Course

Complete this form to propose your course. You can view proposal deadlines for each semester.