Simmons’ departments should use consistent definitions and language in identifying online and hybrid courses in the University’s SOC, on the departments’ course description web pages, and on the departments’ semester class-schedule web pages.


Hybrid Courses

Hybrid Courses meet primarily in a physical classroom but also include significant online learning components. At SMU, hybrid programs and courses are those for which the total student contact time is more than 25% digital. (NOTE: This is an update based on the Collaborative Framework for Continuing, Digital, and Online Education at SMU – May 16, 2018.) The digital learning content is integrated with the classroom-based content. The majority of a hybrid course’s instruction is delivered in a classroom location.

Online Courses (asynchronous and synchronous)

80-100% of the instruction in an online course is delivered digitally (i.e., via computer technology). Online courses may be either primarily asynchronous (to be completed at your own pace and schedule) or synchronous (with scheduled online webcam sessions).

Digital Education

The Collaborative Framework for Continuing, Digital, and Online Education at SMU replaces the terms “online” and “online education” with the more current “digital” and “digital education.”


These programs and courses are delivered 100% digitally (i.e., via computer technology). They may include discrete, in-person “immersions” or “symposiums” which comprise less than 25% of their total student contact time.

Hybrid and Online Course Identification

Department Class Schedule web pages

On your class-schedule web page for a given term, please add one of the following in parentheses after the title of any online course offered during the respective term.


Department Course Description webpages and Official University Course Description

For those courses whose instructional formats vary (between online, hybrid, & physical classroom) depending on the semester, please add a differentiating statement to their descriptions on your department course description web page and to their official University course descriptions. Depending on the formats in which you offer a course, you can state that “this course is sometimes offered in an online [synchronous or asynchronous] format” or “this course is sometimes offered in a hybrid format” or “this course may be offered in a hybrid or online format.”

University SOC

When you officially schedule a 100%-online course for a given term, remember to assign a 401 section number and a location field of “online.” Unique section numbers for hybrid courses do not exist, but if you’ve included a differentiating statement (of the sort given above) to the official description of a course that is sometimes offered in a hybrid format, students should know to inquire with the department about the course’s format for any given term.

Guidelines for Simmons Digital Course Proposals

The Simmons TAC will apply the following Guidelines in reviewing Course Proposals and Syllabi for Digital (online and hybrid) courses:

  1. Includes details on the digital format for the course (online-asynchronous, online-synchronous, hybrid)
  2. Includes specific meeting dates and times on campus or online synchronous (if relevant)
  3. Includes clear Technical Requirements for the course (hardware, software)
  4. Describes Technical Assistance expectations and hours (Help Desk and Faculty/Staff support)
  5. Clearly communicates attendance/participation expectations and grading timeline, including course communication and interaction (netiquette, timing and frequency of contributions, etc.)
  6. Time allocation plan ensures appropriate contact hours and homework hours for digital courses
  7. Online assignments are of sufficient rigor, depth, and breadth to meet the goals of the course and appropriate accreditation guidelines
  8. Includes details and examples of appropriate methods to assess student mastery of learning objectives
  9. Includes procedure to secure online exams and quizzes with restricted browsers and webcam monitoring (where appropriate)
  10. Includes plan to gather and incorporate student feedback for improvement on digital components of the course design at key points (such as mid-point and end of the course)
  11. Plan addresses Accessibility
    • All technology tools meet basic accessibility standards
    • The course provides ALT text for any content in graphical format
    • All pre-recorded and curated content has accurate transcripts or synchronized captions
    • Content is readable at the appropriate reading level and free from grammatical and spelling errors
  12. Plan addresses need for variety of Interactions
    • Faculty-Student interactions for frequent feedback and mentoring
    • Student-Student interactions and/or collaboration to foster mastery and application of the content
    • Student-Content interactions for active
  13. Plan ensures all digital course materials are quality reviewed and ready for students on the first day of the term (modules published according to a predefined class schedule)

Please contact Tony Cuevas ( or Jennifer Culver ( if you have questions about these guidelines.

Other Simmons TAC Requirements

  1. Training: Faculty must complete appropriate training on Teaching Online before they develop a proposal for a digital course or are assigned to teach an online or hybrid course in Simmons. CTE tracks training completion.
    1. CTE Online Teaching Faculty Training:
    2. Canvas Training (experienced faculty members may test out)
  2. Class hours: SMU requires that three-credit hour courses have 42-45 contact hours, with a minimum of 42 contact hours (50 minutes per hour), and at least TWICE as much time allocated for “out of class” time on homework
  3. Technology Requirements must be communicated up front for all Digital courses so students know what is required before starting a class. This should be noted on course schedules with details provided on the Simmons website.
  4. Technical Support Help Desk hours must be communicated clearly in the Syllabus for all Digital courses so students know when tech support is available through the Help Desk or Faculty/Staff (Note: Ideally schedule major assignment due dates when the Help Desk is available)
  5. SMU Honor Code must be reviewed with students in Digital courses to ensure they understand expectations for online coursework