Online Instruction Guidelines


Online (asynchronous) Instruction includes courses which can be taken by a student and given by an instructor from any location with a broadband internet connection and which do not require the student to be online at a certain time of day, with no requirement for face-to-face contact. An exception may be made for proctored testing or special instances due to course content and design. The design, development, and delivery of online courses involve pedagogy, strategies and technologies, which may vary drastically from traditional classrooms.

Procedures for New Online Course Development

Faculty members (adjunct or full time), who wish to develop and/or teach an online course, must follow the following procedures:

  1. A written proposal must be submitted for approval by the program faculty and Dean according to the Curriculum Committee Guidelines. Courses proposed for online delivery will also require approval of the Curriculum Committee or approval of a pilot course by the Provost, before the course is taught.
  2. Faculty members may consult with the Instructional Designer. (Deadlines for new courses: January 15 for fall courses, April 15 for J-Term courses, August 15 for spring courses, December 15 for summer courses)
  3. The Instructor will contact the Instructional Designer upon approval by the Curriculum Committee (Timeline: within two weeks of receiving the approval) or Provost.
  4. Upon notification by the Curriculum Committee or Provost, the Instructional Designer will contact the faculty member with information on course development and training. (Timeline: within two weeks of receiving approval)
  5. If this is the first online course proposed by the faculty member, he/she must complete the required training described in Section III - Training Requirements for New Instructors. Training can be taken in conjunction with the development of the online course.
  6. The faculty member will work in conjunction with the Instructional Designer for all online course development and agreed-upon design revisions until the course is ready for delivery. A first draft of the course should be prepared and shared with the Instructional Designer a minimum of one month prior to the start of the semester in which the course will be taught online, and revisions should be ready a minimum of two weeks prior to the semester in which students will begin taking the course online.
  7. All course development must be original with the faculty member. The college does not wish to, nor will it, defend copyright infringements.
  8. Payment for initial online course development will be at the time the course development is completed according to Section VIII - Online Development Standards and final revisions are acceptable to both Instructor and Instructional Designer.

Training Requirements for New Instructors

The semester prior to teaching online for the first time, the faculty member must complete the new faculty training course, Instructional Design & Teaching, developed by the Callas Center for Educational Technology & Instruction (CCETI) to receive pedagogical training and familiarize themselves with Moodle/Online Delhi (or any other approved college platform). Training sessions, when necessary, will be delivered online. All training sessions must be completed during the term prior to the first semester teaching online.

Training for Experienced Instructors

Active online instructors are strongly encouraged to attend at least one professional development seminar or staff development workshop, conducted or sanctioned by the CCETI.  These seminars will focus on pedagogy and the platform, rather than be discipline focused.

For courses in which students and/or the faculty member are experiencing difficulty (e.g., low retention rates), the Manager of Online Education will work with the Instructor to enhance the aspects of the course that need improvement.

Compensation for Online Course Development and Teaching

Instructors will be paid extra service for teaching online courses (minimum of $734 per lecture credit hour), unless the course is part of their normal load. In addition, Instructors will receive a $2,000 stipend to develop and teach a three-credit online course (equivalent to $666.67 per lecture credit hour), if this is the first time the course has been placed online, unless online course development is part of the faculty member's normal load. If the class does not run due to factors not involving the Instructor, the Course Developer will still receive the $2,000 stipend, unless online course development is part of the faculty member's normal load. Once a course is developed for the online delivery, regardless of the platform (e.g., Moodle/Online Delhi or other), it no longer qualifies for payment of development in another internet format.

When an Instructor is paid to develop an online course, SUNY Delhi reserves the right to future use of the archived course, as well as to have other instructors teach using the online course materials. The original Course Developer shall retain the right to access and utilize any of the material included in the online format at any time in the future, regardless of whether they are currently teaching the course. The Dean will not schedule a Faculty Member to teach more than one online class per semester, unless otherwise agreed upon by the Faculty Member, Dean, and Provost.

Online Course Evaluations

Course evaluations for online courses are carried out in the same way as all face-to-face and/or hybrid courses at SUNY Delhi.  The evaluation schedule is as follows:

  • First-year Faculty/First-time Adjuncts: A section of each course taught during the academic year
  • Term Appointment Faculty/Adjuncts: At least one section of one course each semester
  • Faculty with Continuing Appointment: At least one section of one course each academic year 

Online Development Standards

Purpose: The purpose of the Online Development Standards for online delivery at SUNY Delhi is to provide a set of guiding principles for instructors who teach online. The standards focus on learning outcomes, elements that comprise an online course and guidelines for quality online instruction.

Goal: The goal is to provide instruction, resources, and technical support to enhance learning and improve student outcomes. The shared use of a common technical infrastructure and course delivery will enable students to complete all or part of the requirements for a degree or certificate program, or to achieve specific learning objectives in a learner-centered environment supported by online learning technologies.

To ensure that all online learning activities meet the stated goal and to maintain quality and consistency among online courses, the elements of an online course and instructional quality guidelines for instructors who develop and/or teach online courses are provided below:

  • Unused tools must be hidden or deleted.
  • Information must be provided to help learners understand the purpose of the course and how the learning is structured and carried out, including modes of communication, how their work will be assessed, and the course schedule.
  • The first module/section/topic of the course must provide introductory material.  This includes a general course overview, presents the schedule of activities, indicates first steps for the learners, as well as listing detailed navigational instructions for the whole course.
  • Activities normally described as on campus are limited or not required.
  • The majority (if not all) of the course requirements and instructor-student communications are completed using the Internet.
  • All courses will use the SUNY Delhi Uniform Course Syllabus, which must be included within the course, and includes:
  • Course objectives and the measurement criteria for each course objective;
  • Minimum requirements such as attendance at on-campus sessions, written assignments, examinations, grading criteria, etc.;
  • Technical requirements such as Internet access, browser, plug-ins, computer capabilities, etc.
  • Required texts/readings;
  • Detailed information concerning assignments and due dates;
  • Dates of required examinations;
  • Detailed information on how to contact the Instructor (email, fax, telephone, instant messaging, etc.)
  • All downloadable documents will be in a file format accessible to all learners and devices.  The recommended file format is PDF.

Interactivity:  Students must be involved in a variety of activities that involve the student in interactive exchanges between their peers, the content of the course, and the instructor.  Active learning involves learners engaging by "doing" something, such as discovering, processing, or applying concepts and information. Active learning entails guiding learners to increasing levels of responsibility for their own learning. Interactive involvement should constitute a significant portion of the course structure. Student interactivity in a three-credit online course should be equivalent to at least 45 hours of face-to-face classroom discussion. Interactivity in an online course can be accomplished in one or more of the following ways:

  • Activities for learner-instructor interaction might include an assignment or project submitted for instructor feedback; learner-instructor discussion in a synchronous session or an asynchronous discussion board exchange; or a frequently-asked-questions (FAQ) discussion forum moderated by the instructor.
  • Activities for learner-content interaction might include assigned reading from a textbook, article, or online resource; assigned completion of a workbook or online exercise; or a learning-how-to-learn activity.
  • Activities for learner-learner interaction might include assigned collaborative activities such as group discussions; small-group projects; group problem-solving assignments; or peer critiques.

Presentation Strategies:  Online courses need to be multi-modal by design and should contain more than one of the following instructional methods:

  • Text lessons with supporting images and/or charts, tables, graphs as well as corresponding audio.
  • Instructional Videos: Recorded elements may be produced to support a course or copyrights secured to allow the use of commercial materials. Videotaped materials can be distributed to students via the internet as part of the course package. Video elements need to be captioned and copyright restrictions must be observed and followed. Instructors can create their own videotaped elements or screencasts using screen-recording software.
  • Interactive Elements. Activities that involve computer-assisted instructional elements or multi-media presentations should be included, however these elements should be accessible in both ADA compliance and file type and size.
  • Text presentations (such as PowerPoint) should include audio narration.
  • Audio Materials.
  • External Links - including guided learning activities and assessments.
  • Textbooks and Study Guides. Texts with a unifying study guide, either electronic or printed, can be a core part of any distance education course. Electronic publishing or text information is an alternative to hard copy distribution. Copyright restrictions must be observed and followed.
  • Courses are designed to require students to engage in analysis, syntheses, and evaluation as part of course and program requirements.
  • Learning activities are designed to fit teaching/learning requirements and must measure the stated learning outcomes.
  • Course content, instructional methods, technologies and context should align with the stated learning outcomes.
  • Outcomes are both measurable and address content mastery and increased learning skills.
  • Students with skills in subject matter, instructional methods, and technologies work collaboratively to engage in learning opportunities.
  • Instructional offerings are evaluated on a regular basis for effectiveness; evaluation results are utilized for improvement (see section VI).
  • Classroom materials developed by third parties, such as publishers or external tools from vendors and/or publishers will be evaluated by the same standards as materials developed by system instructors.


  • Student interaction with faculty and other students is an essential characteristic and is facilitated through a variety of ways.
  • Feedback to student assignments and questions is constructive and provided in a timely manner.
  • Students are instructed in the proper methods of effective research, including assessment of the validity of resources.
  • Students understand expectations of learner activities.
  • Assessment methods used are appropriate to the course and learning methods employed.
  • Learning activities and modes of assessment are responsive to the needs of individual learners.
  • Learners have easy access to up-to-date grade information using the built-in gradebook within the LMS.
  • General education (GE) courses must have assignments that can be used to assess the extent to which students have satisfied GE outcomes.


  • The college will be responsible for acting in a timely manner to make curriculum, materials, or other resources used in an online course, available to students with disabilities, unless doing so would significantly alter the nature of the instructional activity.
  • Navigation should facilitate ease of use in that the course layout and design is consistent, making tools, instructional material, and media easy to locate from anywhere in the course.
  • All links within the course are working properly.
  • Tables are used to organize data and have appropriate table headers.
  • Hierarchy in documents and text in the course is clearly indicated through the use of heading styles.
  • Color alone is not used to convey meaning.
  • Font size and style are selected to maximize on-screen legibility. The number of font families should be limited to one or two.
  • Text and images used in the course are accessible to all learners. Refer to the international Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) for additional guidance.
  • All images and graphs are described via alternative text.
  • Tables and vector charts are set up as text not as embedded images or screen captures.
  • PDFs contain text and are not image scans.
  • Underlined text is avoided unless used for navigation.
  • All multimedia and files within a course should be provided in an alternate format (e.g., a video should have either closed captions or a transcript provided as well; all text should be readable by a screen reader).
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