Faculty Spotlight - Bryan James

Bryan James


Online Courses
Areas of Interest

My primary teaching interest is statistics education, and more specifically, teaching online statistics.  I really enjoy teaching statistics as it applies to so many fields of study and daily news consumption. 


I live in Central Pennsylvania with my wife and youngest son.  We have 3 children; a daughter and two sons. They are all part of the Penn State family. My daughter is a graduate of Penn College and my oldest son is a junior at main campus. My youngest son will attend PSU in the fall of 2020. 

I have degrees in education, math, physics, and statistics. This is my 28th year of teaching full-time, with 20 of those being full-time at the Pennsylvania College of Technology. 

In my free time, I enjoy basketball, baseball, and golf. I also am the owner of a small sports bar in my town. 

How did you get started with teaching online for Penn State?

This is my 4th year of teaching STAT 200 online. I teach quite a bit of online statistics in my full-time position at Penn College and I wondered how similar the environment would be at PSU. I reached out to the department and asked if they had the need for another online instructor. They did and the experience has been very rewarding.

What do you like best about teaching online?

Teaching online really makes the instructor evaluate the educational process. It makes you decide the best techniques and technologies to use to engage students and to help them learn. The freedom to not have a set hour each day to go to a physical classroom can be good for both students and instructors. It allows you and the students to work on the course at times that best fit individual schedules and styles.

How do you engage online students with statistics?

I really attempt to interact with the class quite often. This can be done with the traditional email, discussion board, or announcement. Additionally, technologies like Zoom, Kaltura, and Screencast-o-matic allow me to use video and conferencing with students. I think it is important for students to know that you care about the learning process and that you are there for them in a distance education course.

What is your best advice to students in order to be successful in an online statistics course?

My first piece of advice is always to assess your semester and other life circumstances. Try to make sure that you have time to give your coursework. After that, it is important to spread work out throughout the week. Students will be much more successful giving three 1-hour blocks during the week than they will be giving one 3-hour block on the date the weekly material is due.

No matter what course it is, in your major or not, make the most of it!