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 taught in primarily 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 webcams and microphones, often used for student group meetings, student presentations, 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 more 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 through the term of the course, ensuring students have frequent feedback on their progress.
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 in an online course. 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 semester long online course and approximately 20 hours per week in courses that are offered in a seven week term.
The guidelines presented in this section have been developed as part of the College's pilot online program initiative, the RN to BSN Online program. Individual schools and the faculty governance system have or will be developing guidelines and policies pertaining to online course offerings outside of this pilot program. Faculty members exploring online options need to consult with their chair and/or dean to learn of their options and relevant policies. In addition, any plans to pursue an online option must be communicated to the Provost's Office from the outset.