Academic Modalities

Academic Modality Policy Statement

For Saint Mary’s to be effective in its teaching mission while protecting the health of students and faculty during the COVID-19 pandemic, the faculty has modified their standard course delivery in a variety of ways. Some kinds of modifications are required in all courses, and some kinds of modifications are available as options for faculty who see opportunities to develop more effective pedagogies or who have particular needs.

This policy statement gives an overview of the course delivery options that can be available to faculty. It notes some of their key features and factors that may enable or rule out this mode of delivery for a particular class or faculty member. If deemed necessary by the College, all classes may need to be moved online at some point during the semester. Thus, all classes are designed with this possibility in mind. 

Option 1: Standard Face-to-Face. Instruction with online participation as needed via webcam. This mode of instruction will be available to faculty when the teaching space for their courses has sufficient capacity to include all enrolled students safely and no students not in residence are enrolled. Enrolled students who may need to be isolated from the rest of the community for an extended period during the semester can participate synchronously via webcam. Although this mode of delivery does not include virtual class participation as part of its basic design, courses being taught by standard face-to-face instruction will still need to be ready to shift online if necessary. 

Option 2:  Modified face-to-face instruction. Online participation via webcam and recording of class meetings. This mode of delivery is similar to standard face-to- face, but it incorporates virtual student participation into every class meeting. Virtual participation is part of every meeting because one or more students enrolled in the class are not in residence at the College for health reasons and/or because the classroom assigned for the course cannot safely accommodate all the enrolled students. In this instructional mode, on-campus students will rotate between face-to-face classroom attendance and online synchronous attendance. Students who are not in residence can participate synchronously or view the class later via recording. The standard incorporation of online synchronous delivery would ease transition to fully online teaching, as needed. 

Option 3: Hybrid instruction. This option intentionally replaces 33–50 percent of the course’s standard face-to-face time with online activity and meets the requirements of the College’s modified hybrid policy. This modality provides access to online pedagogies not available in modified-face-to-face instruction. It can also ease a transition to fully online instruction, and it can help ease classroom availability challenges by reducing needs for classroom time.  

Option 4: Online instruction. This option enables faculty to teach the class fully online. The online courses will be at least partly synchronous, meaning that students will still engage with the instructor as a group, in real-time, at least once a week.