Penn State York will pilot a program this year that aims to deliver convenient credentials to the area's adult learners.

The new Real-time Interactive Classroom will allow students to take courses using video conferencing from virtually anywhere they choose, said Jeff Warner, interim registrar and co-chairman of the initiative.

"Penn State is literally being delivered to your home," he said.

In its first year, the program will offer a Business Essentials for Professionals certificate that focuses on skills in the management of information systems. Students can earn the 12-credit certificate in less than one year.

The course: He said Penn State York began to develop the program in late 2009, when employers came to campus and shared what kind of training employees needed - particularly a credential they could complete in a short period of time.

A diploma that takes four or five years to get, in other words, isn't quick enough, Warner said.

After the tip, the college used the program to teach World Trade Center of Central Pennsylvania members Chinese and tutor students in calculus and algebra, he said. After that success, he said, the school was ready to move forward to offer credit courses and the business certificate.

"It worked. It worked extremely well," he said. "It was like being in the classroom."

Each seven-week course the program offers can be used toward a degree or certificate. Students meet online with their instructor and class two hours a week and complete assignments during the rest of the week.

Savings: Being a commuter campus, Penn State York provides a low-cost option to students who have other responsibilities, Warner said. And this particular initiative is for the working student who wants to earn a business certificate or degree, but doesn't have the time, he said.

Tuition will cost the same for the Real-time Interactive Classroom as for regular, on-campus courses.

The program is a cost-effective measure in other ways, Warner said.

"Savings come in commute time, flexibility and no additional costs for software," he said.

Depending on the pilot's success, Penn State could expand the model to other classes and degrees, he said.

To register: Penn State will hold online information sessions about the Real-time Interactive Classroom on Monday and Wednesday and another on Thursday, July 25, from 7:30 to 8 p.m. The deadline to register for each is one business day before the session.

To register for an information session or learn more, visit www.yk.psu.edu/RIC, call Penn State York Continuing Education at 717-771-4067 or email ce@yk.psu.edu.

-Reach Mollie Durkin at mdurkin@yorkdispatch.com.