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In order to provide adaptability and best serve our students during the current health crisis, Academic Affairs, with the support of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, has developed course delivery definitions for the Fall 2020 Term.

Each learning experience at WOU is unique: different teaching approaches, learning styles, and course objectives may be better served by a specific course delivery format. These definitions seek to create space for that uniqueness, while also recognizing the need to set clear expectations for students and acknowledge the unknown impact COVID-19 may have as we continue on towards Fall term.

Please review these definitions and determine the delivery method most appropriate for your courses. Keep in mind that if we are allowed to have in-person instruction at the beginning of Fall Term, we could be required by state or county directive to stop in-person meetings until the public health situation improves. Faculty choosing a delivery method with in-person meetings will need to be prepared to shift instruction to an alternative format on short notice.

For those who choose to offer hybrid or online courses in Fall 2020, we will offer expanded training and support during Summer 2020.

 

 

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Definitions

  1. In-person Format.

    1. In-person courses are scheduled for at least one hour per week per credit. Meeting times are communicated to students in the course schedule. Synchronous course requirements take place during these scheduled times.
    2. Students and the faculty member are located in the same physical space for scheduled course meetings.
    3. Online activities may be included at the faculty member’s discretion, based on the course goals and learning outcomes
    4. This delivery modality will follow the published final exam schedule.
    5. Faculty should keep in mind that even if we are allowed to have in-person instruction at the beginning of fall term, we could be required by state or county directive to stop in-person meetings in response to public health concerns. Faculty choosing this option should be prepared to shift instruction to an alternative format on short notice should this happen.
  2. Hybrid Format.

    1. Hybrid courses have a scheduled time for synchronous, in-person meetings, however, these scheduled meetings occur less frequently than an in-person section of the same course. Meeting times are communicated to students in the course schedule. Synchronous course requirements take place during these scheduled times.
    2. Students and the faculty member are located in the same physical space for at least some of these scheduled course meetings. Some scheduled course meetings may be held using remote methods but these meetings should still follow the times shared in the course schedule.
    3. Asynchronous online activities complement the course’s scheduled, synchronous activities. The proportional split between synchronous meetings and asynchronous online activities are determined based on the course goals and learning outcomes. There is no pre-specified ratio for hybrid courses (e.g. 50/50).
    4. This delivery modality will follow the published final exam schedule.
    5. If COVID-19 causes in-person instruction to shift to remote methods, the originally scheduled time for synchronous participation remains the scheduled meeting time for the course. Any synchronous requirements should occur only during the times assigned on the course schedule.
  3. Online Asynchronous Format.

    1. Online-Asynchronous courses  do not have a scheduled meeting time for synchronous course requirements, such as exams, course meetings, or activities.
    2. Students and faculty do not share the same physical location for any portion of the course.
    3. Course activities are generally asynchronous. While the course still operates with clear deadlines and a timeline for completion, flexibility is extended when possible.
    4. If the faculty member includes any time-bound or synchronous requirements, these requirements are designed so as not to interfere with the students’ class schedule or other obligations. Faculty members should incorporate student feedback regarding work or family obligations and WOU’s scheduling practices when determining time limits or synchronous expectations.
  4. Online Format with Synchronous Meeting Times.

    1. Online-Synchronous courses have a scheduled time for synchronous course activities. Meeting times are communicated to students in the course schedule. Synchronous course requirements take place during these scheduled times.
    2. Students and faculty do not share the same physical location for any portion of the course.
    3. Asynchronous online activities may be included at the faculty member’s discretion, based on the course goals and learning outcomes.
    4. This delivery modality will follow the published final exam schedule.

    Due to the current health crisis we are likely to have more hybrid and online courses planned for the upcoming year, but we recognize that in many circumstances, online and hybrid delivery are not the preferred format for faculty and students. For those who do choose to develop hybrid and online courses for Fall 2020, we are planning to offer expanded training and support during Summer 2020.

     

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    Considerations in Choosing Delivery Format

    Although the Fall 2020 schedule has already been loaded, we can still make changes. Faculty and programs should consider, as part of the decision-making process, the following:

    What is the difference between a hybrid course, an online synchronous course, and an online asynchronous course?

    • A hybrid course utilizes some online delivery method but it is expected that students and the faculty member will occupy the same physical space for a portion of instructional time.
    • An online course takes place entirely in a virtual learning environment. At no time are students and the faculty member expected to be in the same physical space.
    • Synchronous online courses require students to be engaged with the course during some or all of the same periods of time that an in-person course would require. Examples of synchronous activities might include a lecture, class discussions, student presentations, dedicated group project work time, or a time-bound assessment.
    • An asynchronous course is designed so as not to conflict with a student’s synchronous courses and other obligations, such as work or family. As such, it provides flexibility in completing assignments, assessments, and working through course materials. These activities will still follow a schedule and have deadlines, but those deadlines should not create a barrier to a student taking a synchronous course, either online, hybrid or in-person. For example, an online asynchronous course should not have a test with a narrow time window for completion such as Wednesday morning from 9-10:00 am, as that time window might overlap with a regularly scheduled course. Instead, an asynchronous course might have a time limit of one hour that begins once the student initiates the exam, but the student might have a longer window during which they could initiate the exam (e.g., 3 days). We strongly recommend having assignments and other course work available for at least a week, as shorter time frames can create barriers for students who have inflexible work, school or child care schedules.

    Benefits of the hybrid format, given the uncertain situation:

    • Hybrid courses allow for in-person activities that are critical for many programs’  learning outcomes. Many of our students express that they perform better when they have more in-person instruction. WOU is known for its personalized support, and that in-person time can be critical in maximizing outcomes.
    • Hybrid courses have a set meeting time, so if we need to limit in-person instruction, faculty can schedule synchronous web or video conference meetings at the set meeting time they were using for in-person instruction. Many faculty and students have expressed that these synchronous activities are helpful.
    • Hybrid courses limit the need for facilities, enabling us to maximize the use of larger classrooms for courses that need to be face to face, allow for more physical distancing, and an efficient disinfecting schedule.

    Benefits of the online formats, given the uncertain situation:

    • The online format may be attractive to students who are unwilling to move onto campus, who have no childcare options, a complex family/home environment, a variable work schedule, or who have health-related concerns.
    • We believe that online courses will enroll well for Fall 2020, and online courses will experience the least disruption if WOU is required to cease in-person instruction because of a COVID-19 spike in our region.
    • Online courses can have a set meeting time during which an instructor could conduct the course using web or video conferencing. Many faculty and students have expressed that these synchronous activities are helpful.

     

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    FAQs

    • Where do “online hybrid” courses fit?

      • “My online course has weekly scheduled meeting times, but for fewer hours than the in-person version of the course, and it replaces that time with asynchronous work that students complete on their own (in addition to the normal time required for study/homework). How can I make sure students are aware of this additional component at the point of registration?”
      • This is an online synchronous course, and faculty can request a comment be listed on the schedule for this section to alert students to this: “Some scheduled course meetings have been substituted with alternative online learning activities.”
      • To set up this type of course:
        • If using the Delivery Method Change spreadsheet (will be sent to Division Chairs & APAs shortly, and due by end-of-day on May 13):
          • In column I (“Change to this Delivery Format”), select “Online with scheduled class meetings.”
          • In columns L – N, list the days/times for the weekly meeting times (if non-standard/sporadic schedule, use column O to enter the dates/times).
          • In column P, check the box for “Online synch w/ fewer in-class hours than typical.”
        • On a course change sheet:
          • List “online course” as well as the days/times for the class meetings.
          • Make a note that the section needs the “Significant self-directed online instruction” comment.
        • If no other information about the section is changing, you may email the scheduling office directly to make this change. Include the following in your email:
          • The CRN(s)
          • A request to add the “Significant self-directed online instruction” comment to the section(s).
    • I’d like to have an online course that is mostly asynchronous but has a couple of scheduled times during the term (instead of a weekly schedule). Can this be done?

      • Yes: this is an Online Synchronous course. When submitting the change, indicate that the course is an Online Synchronous course, and list the scheduled dates/times in the Notes column.
    • Can an online asynchronous course have scheduled activities?

      • Asynchronous courses may have occasional scheduled activities. The schedule for any such activities must be based upon the stated availability of the students enrolled in the section. Many students choose online asynchronous courses because they have inflexible or unpredictable work, school, or child care schedules, so we encourage faculty to avoid planning synchronous or scheduled activities in these courses.
      • The date and time of any synchronous activities must not conflict with any scheduled courses.
    • For in-person and hybrid courses: If we have to stop in-person meetings due to public health concerns, are we required to continue to have synchronous meetings while teaching remotely / online?

      • No. Offering a course in-person does not mandate instructors offer a synchronous course if they have to move the course to remote/online teaching due to public health concerns.
      • The in-person and hybrid definitions say: “if health concerns prevent in-person instruction, synchronous meetings or activities that are mandatory occur during the section’s officially scheduled times.” That statement is saying that if a faculty member wishes to have “synchronous meetings or activities that are mandatory,” those meetings need to occur within the bounds of the section’s “officially scheduled times.” It does not require the faculty member to have synchronous meetings.
      • Although faculty are not required to have synchronous class meetings in this situation, they are encouraged to offer some form of synchronous sessions, as many students indicated that synchronous sessions offered during Spring 2020 courses have been critical to both their engagement with the course and to understanding the material.
      • Faculty are prohibited from holding mandatory synchronous meetings that don’t align with the originally scheduled times, as this would likely cause problems for students.