Mount Saint Mary College (MSMC) promotes the application of online learning technologies in multiple courses offered to undergraduate and graduate students every year, from enhancing traditional classroom instruction to enabling the delivery of teaching online in lieu of on-campus class meetings. The College views online learning as an extremely valuable format to supplement classroom learning and to strengthen learner engagement and collaboration in MSMC academic programs. For graduate and adult undergraduate programs, online learning also provides the opportunity to increase access for student populations that otherwise would not be able to participate in and benefit from the College’s higher education programs due to constraints of family, work, and distance.
As with all other curricular matters, the faculty should have primary responsibility for determining the policies and practices of the institution in regard to distance education. The rules governing distance education and its technologies should be approved by a vote of the faculty concerned or a representative faculty body.
Traditional/Web-Enhanced Class (T)
A Web-Enhanced Class is a face-to-face course that uses a variety of electronic media to provide learning content and resources and promote student interaction inside and outside the classroom. Although web-enhanced classes use online tools and resources, they are not considered hybrid or online courses because instruction takes place predominantly in the traditional, face-to-face classroom environment. Technology is primarily used to support teaching and learning activities. Student contact time is typically not replaced by online sessions (asynchronous or synchronous) except for infrequent circumstances.
Hybrid or Blended Class (HB)
A Hybrid or Blended Class refers to a model of course design that combines traditional classroom learning with online or out-of-class coursework activities. At MSMC, a hybrid course is defined as a course where a portion, but not all, of traditional face-to-face class time is replaced with online or out-of-class coursework that is planned and scheduled on a regularly occurring basis. “Blended” or “Hybrid” class refers to the same type of course offerings. In the Office of Online Learning, we will often use the term “Hybrid” course.
Online Class (OL)
An Online Class is an online course offering in which all class contact is delivered in an online environment. This does not preclude any face-to-face meetings for activities such as orientation, special in-class presentations, exams, or other in-class proofs of competency and identity.
Scheduling Courses in Alternative Formats
Individual faculty members should have the same responsibility for selecting and presenting materials in courses offered through distance education technologies that they have in those offered in traditional classroom settings.
Based on the divisional need, a full time faculty member who is teaching technology related courses can teach no more than 50% equivalent course load online whether the courses are fully online or hybrid (e.g., two fully online courses or one fully online and two hybrid courses with no more than 50% of instructional content provided via online instruction).
All courses are projected and scheduled using procedures that were developed by the Vice President of Academic Affairs and involve the faculty, chairperson, and directors. The projections are conveyed to the registrar for developing the final schedule. During this process, requests, including those for time and rooms, are included the projections. Scheduling of hybrid and online courses must be included at the time projections are made and submitted.
During course projections, a faculty member must designate the delivery modality of the course and communicate with the registrar and other administrative departments. Online or hybrid courses should be clearly designated in the course schedule for traditional students (OL = Online Course; HB = Hybrid Course; T = Traditional Face-to-Face Course/Web-Enhanced). In the case of hybrid courses, the schedule will clearly indicate which days of the week face-to-face sessions will be required. This will allow registrar to determine the percentage the hybrid class is online vs face-to-face, so that it can be indicated to the students in the course schedule. All information regarding the format of delivery and scheduled class sessions must be included on the course syllabus.
During the development of the final schedule, the Registrar will confirm that the limits to the number of hybrid and online courses are met. The Registrar, in consultation with the faculty teaching the course, chairpersons, and/or directors, will determine which days face-to-face sessions will be held in order to ensure optimal use of classroom space. The decision to offer any hybrid or online course shall lie with the faculty and chairperson/director, but the Registrar may request specific changes to times of courses to ensure the schedule supports student needs.
Until the final schedule is confirmed, there is no agreement that a course will be offered in a hybrid or online format. Once the course is scheduled the faculty member cannot change the format of the course without approval from the chairperson, VPAA, and Registrar.
When a hybrid or online course is in session, faculty must report deviations from the planned course schedule or location (e.g., class cancellations due to illness) to the chairperson/director and Registrar.
Online and hybrid courses must ensure that the requirements of the course meet the New York State Education Department requirements for minimum hours for instruction and supplemental assignments. The New York State Education Department states that a:
Semester hour means a credit, point, or other unit granted for the satisfactory completion of a course which requires at least 15 hours ( of 50 minutes each) of instruction and at least 30 hours of supplementary assignments, except as otherwise provided pursuant to section 52.2(c)(4) of this Subchapter. This basic measure shall be adjusted proportionately to translate the value of other academic calendars and formats of study in relation to the credit granted for study during the two semesters that comprise an academic year. (TITLE 8. EDUCATION DEPARTMENT CHAPTER II. REGULATIONS OF THE COMMISSIONER SUBCHAPTER A. HIGHER AND PROFESSIONAL EDUCATION PART 50. GENERAL
For online courses, all instruction and assignments must meet the same time requirements, but the delivery is exclusively online.
Syllabus, Learning Outcomes, Course Policies
For all courses, instructors must provide students a course syllabus by the first day of class. The course syllabus should follow the MSMC format, and should be submitted to the chair of the school/department to be kept on file. This must include a description of the course, learning outcomes, assignments, method for determining grades, course policies, the academic honesty policy, and other information specified in the faculty handbook. The syllabus must also include the weekly day(s) and time of face-to-face and required synchronous online sessions.
As per college policy, all courses need to clearly specify student learning outcomes for all courses. These must be made available to the student both on the course syllabus and documented and readily accessible in the learning management system (LMS).
Instructors are also required to provide course policies. These should reflect the expectations for students both in the traditional classroom setting and in the online course environment. Because of the differences in classroom and online environments, instructors must identify differences for expectations where they arise.
Course policies also need to include the expectations that students can anticipate from instructors including but not limited to time frame for responding to communication requests, procedures for submission, evaluation, and returning of assignments, and other policies related to the completion of the course.
Instructors are required to model their courses on the goals and academic plans set forth by the respective MSMC academic division/school. All online courses must share the learning objectives with their students in each class. While the MSMC academic divisions/schools have set the official goals and learning objectives for each course, the online instructor has latitude in determining assignments and activities that will best fit an online, condensed term format. This includes lecture notes, visuals, handouts, etc.
On occasion, faculty members may want to borrow from or look at other instructors’ materials. Instructors are required to obtain permission from other instructors prior to viewing or using any course materials. If permission was obtained from an instructor or colleague, the acknowledgement must be included in the syllabus and on any page that uses his or her materials. If permission was obtained from a colleague, it is important to acknowledge use accordingly.
In cases where the instructor of record would like to utilize content prepared for the Office of Online Learning (i.e., a master course), the instructor for the course has the responsibility for requesting a backup copy of the course to be added to the LMS course shell.
The instructor must use the MSMC adopted LMS, unless the faculty member receives prior approval. Instructors may supplement the LMS with additional resources such as web pages, Wiki’s, textbook software programs, etc., however he/she is responsible for providing technical and/or learning support to his/her students for additional resources. The Office of Online Learning cannot be responsible for providing support to faculty and/or students for technical resources beyond the LMS. If a faculty member employs an alternative website/resource, he/she must be aware that the Office of Online Learning cannot provide evidence that a student has attended or participated as directed by the instructor; this kind of report can be provided in the LMS but cannot be provided for resources used beyond the LMS.
Instructors are strongly encouraged to use the Gradebook function available in the LMS, which can be fully supported by the Office of Online Learning. If an instructor chooses not to use the Gradebook or chooses to use an alternative grading system, the Office of Online Learning cannot be responsible for providing support to faculty and/or students in this particular area.
Ensuring Course Quality
There is no academic distinction between the courses offered in online and hybrid format and those courses offered in a traditional classroom setting; all courses must have the same academic rigor.
Distance education courses shall align with all of the guidelines outlined in MSCHE and NYSED to ensure MSMC compliance.