I am searching through the internet trying to find one piece in particular that most people place in an online course syllabus. This piece would magically indemnify the institution if a student willfully takes an online course without the prerequisites of the course, sufficient computer knowledge, or without possession or access to modern computing tools. I find bits and pieces of that information in various templates from sundry schools but no magical paragraph that satisfies all of them.
I am most impressed at how well schools keep from reinventing their own templates. I am, early on, highly impressed by the template from Pasadena Community College. The Texas A&M sample syllabus is actually really useful because it includes multiple examples. Clayton State has a sample template that contains the following policy:
You are required to have ready access throughout the semester to a notebook computer that meets faculty-approved hardware and software requirements for your academic program. For further information on CSU’s Official Notebook Computer Policy, please go to http://www.clayton.edu/hub/Student-Services/ITP-Choice/Notebook-Computer-Policy.
This policy is wonderful because, by the past paragraph, all students are responsible for capable technology. However, this it is predicated upon Clayton State’s laptop policy that ensures that every student is in possession of a university-supported laptop. LaGrange College has no such policy.
From tidbits and snippets, I slowly assembled one paragraph that I feel might address many of my concerns.
Student Responsibilities for Distance Learning Courses at LaGrange College
Admitted students planning to enroll in online or hybrid courses at LaGrange College are responsible for meeting all college and course prerequisites, locating and obtaining privileges to use accepted testing centers (as needed), acquiring access to modern computing tools (computer, microphones, webcams, etc.) and broadband internet, addressing any fees specific to scheduled courses or programs, and maintaining skills necessary to properly operate instructional technologies. Students with questions or concerns should contact the course instructor for clarification of any prerequisites and conditions.
Online Course Syllabus Items
Slowly, what I realizing is that I should be contemplating an entire syllabus template. Items that ought to be included follow:
- Title, class dates, instructor information (name, contact info, office, office hours);
- Course information: online access, a clear label of whether the class is fully online or a hybrid class (according to the SACSCOC definitions)
- Course prerequisites: books, tech, skills;
- ADA policy;
- Academic Honesty Policy;
- Student learning outcomes (institutional and course);
- Grade scales (A+, A, A-, etc.) and course percentages;
- Academic aid notifications (tutoring centers, etc.);
- A fully detailed schedule of content and due dates of assignments–this should also include school dates with specific mention of withdrawal policies and add/drop periods. This would be incredibly important for financial aid students.
- Contact information for tech support (be they on- or off-campus), counseling, healthcare services;
- complaint information
The landscape of legality and authorization for online learning has proven to be rough and rocky terrain. Governmental rules seem to be at odd with states’ rights but individual concerns versus the concerns of the institution must also be weighed. How does one do this? I’m not sure.