St. John Fisher College defines an online learning course as one that is taught primarily through the campus course management system, Blackboard, with the incorporation of other educational technologies where appropriate, and that requires no face-to-face meetings on campus throughout the duration of the course.
Online courses at Fisher are generally taught in an asynchronous fashion, meaning that students can complete the given tasks and assignments in a course at a time that is convenient for them within a given time period defined by the instructor, usually a specific week in the term. Some courses taught online may also incorporate the use of synchronous technologies that allow for real-time communication through the web using web cams and microphones, often used for student group meetings, student presentation or guest speakers. Faculty may also use synchronous sessions to administer office hours with students.
Because the nature of the classroom environment changes when taught fully online, the role of the faculty member also transitions to a coaching and mentoring role, allowing learners to actively participate in class discussions and activities. Typically, online courses at Fisher will have multiple forms of assessment, including discussions, projects, presentations and group work. Assessments will be administered continuously throughout the term of the course ensuring students have frequent feedback on their progress. Students taking online courses at Fisher will have multiple interactions within any given course, including student-to-content, student-to-instructor and student-to-student communications.
The lack of seat-time in an online course can make it difficult to conceptualize the amount of work that happens on a weekly basis. Faculty at Fisher utilize a time-on-task analysis method to design the content of every online course. Students should expect to spend approximately 10 hours of time each week participating in course-related activities in a three credit hour semester long online course and approximately 20 hours per week in three credit hour courses that are offered in a seven-week term.
Fisher defines hybrid courses as those that reduce some portion of the normal seat time and replace that time with online activities, including asynchronous discussions and other technologically enhanced activities. The amount of seat time reduction may vary anywhere from 33% to 66%. The online activities in a hybrid course will look very similar to work conducted in a fully online course, therefore many of the same design strategies previously described for online courses also apply to hybrid courses. Similarly, a time on task analysis is also used in the design of hybrid courses to ensure the total learning time is equivalent regardless of the modality in which the course is delivered.
Online Education Showcase
Visit the Online Education Showcase for a tour of a variety of online courses and information on best practices in online learning.