Simmons Process for Developing Hybrid Digital or Continuing Education Courses. Step 1 - Prepare, Step 2 - Propose, Step 3 - Obtain Approval, Step 4 - Produce, Step 5 - Deliver

The Simmons AAC/TAC has defined a 5-step Process for Developing Online and Hybrid Courses with SMU GO

All proposals for new Simmons online and hybrid programs/courses or for conversion of existing programs/courses to online or hybrid format must follow the AAC/TAC approval process.

This process begins with discussions between faculty members and Department Chairs, and includes the completion of an online Simmons Concept Form for the Dean’s Office before moving forward with market research and development.

Simmons AAC/TAC Guidelines to Help Faculty Create Digital Course Proposals

The Simmons AAC/TAC requires all Digital courses to apply a consistent Online/Hybrid Course Syllabus Template to provide the information required for distance learners.

SMU applies the Quality Matters Rubric for all Digital Courses. The Online Syllabus Template includes many of the requirements for QM approval.

The following guidelines are used by the AAC/TAC in reviewing Course Proposals and Syllabi for Digital (online and hybrid) courses:

  1. Details on the digital format for the course (online-asynchronous, online-synchronous, hybrid)
  2. Specific meeting dates and times on campus or online synchronous (if relevant)
  3. Clear Technical Requirements for the course (hardware, software)
  4. Technical Assistance expectations and hours (Help Desk and Faculty/Staff support)
  5. Clear attendance/participation expectations and grading timelines, including course communication and interaction (netiquette, timing and frequency of contributions, etc.)
  6. Time allocation outline to help students plan their time and meet appropriate contact hours and homework hours for digital courses
  7. Online assignments of sufficient rigor, depth, and breadth to meet the goals of the course and appropriate accreditation guidelines
  8. Details and examples of appropriate methods to assess student mastery of learning objectives (including rubrics where appropriate)
  9. Procedure to secure online exams and quizzes with restricted browsers and webcam monitoring (if appropriate)

The Development Plan/Proposal must address:

  1. 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 captions
    • Content is readable at the appropriate reading level
  2. 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

All courses must complete the QM quality review to ensure online materials are ready for students on the first day of the term (modules published according to a predefined class schedule). In addition, procedures must be in place 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).

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

Additional Simmons AAC/TAC Requirements for Digital Courses

  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. Quality Matters Training - Please contact Jennifer Culver for details (
    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 isavailable 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

Digital Learning Definitions

Simmons’ departments should use consistent definitions and language in identifying distance/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.

Distance/Online Courses (asynchronous and synchronous)

Distance/Online courses have more than 50% of the instruction delivered digitally (i.e., via computer technology) where the faculty member and students are not physically in the same location. Distance/Online courses may be primarily asynchronous (to be completed at your own pace and schedule) or synchronous (with scheduled online webcam sessions). Although most distance/online courses include both asynchronous and synchronous learning components, the primary mode of instruction should be clearly communicated to students at the time of enrollment.

Hybrid Courses

Hybrid Courses meet primarily in a physical location, but also include significant online learning components. At SMU, hybrid programs and courses are those for which the total student contact time is 26-50% at a distance/online. The distance/online learning content is integrated with the classroom-based content. The majority of a hybrid course’s instruction is delivered in a classroom location.

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 web pages and Official University Course Description

For those courses whose instructional formats vary (between online, hybrid, and 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.