Ramapo College of New Jersey
Standards, and Procedures for Planning and Offering Online Courses and Programs
General Information and Purpose
General Information and Purpose
Ramapo College recognizes the significance of organizing the online offerings of the institution so that a well-coordinated and highly effective program will be delivered. Coordination of online offerings is required to provide the necessary resources and assistance to faculty, to provide support services for students enrolled in online courses/programs, to maximize the use of college resources with a minimum of duplication, and to ensure consistent and fair policies and procedures related to faculty and students. Organized and well-coordinated programs facilitate marketing and promotional strategies and strengthen the College’s image as an innovative and technologically progressive institution.
Rapid advancements in technology will create new methods for providing and delivering academic offerings in online (and other distance education) formats. Therefore, policies and procedures that impact distance learning will continuously change and these guidelines should be considered “interim” in nature and reflect the latest developments at the time of printing. As changes occur, this document will be revised to incorporate those changes.
The following policies and procedures are intended to assist with planning, coordination, and technological support for participating administration, faculty, students, and staff. These policies and procedures are built on current Academic and Curricular Guidelines, RCNJ Academic and Board Policy Statements, the College Mission Statement and Strategic Plan and shall apply to new distance education activities as well as to existing courses and programs in which the method of delivery has changed significantly from traditional in-class instruction. This manual applies to all Ramapo College credit-bearing courses and “developmental” (000-level) courses that are offered in distance-learning formats.
Distance Education / Distance Learning
The terms “Distance Education” or “Distance Learning” are used here to refer to instruction where the teacher and the student are separated geographically so that face to face communication is absent; communication is accomplished instead by one or more technological media. This communication consists of live or recorded visual presentations and material using direct signal or cable, transmission by telephone line, fiber-optic line, digital and/or analog videotape, audiotape, CDROM, computer or internet technology, email or other electronic means, now known or hereafter developed, utilized to teach any course originating from or sponsored by Ramapo College of New Jersey. Some of these technologies are in use to varying degrees in traditional (face-to-face) courses, which are not considered further in this document.
“Course” refers to any learning experience offered for college credit or otherwise required for a degree.
A course section in which all content is delivered using Internet technology. Such course sections are coded as “Online” (ONL) in the schedule of classes.
If online synchronous meetings are required, the instructor must specify them in detail in the schedule of classes and the syllabus, so that the students will be aware of any/all required meetings upon registration.
The overall instructional time and student preparation time of the course should conform to Ramapo College’s Credit Hour Policy and Procedure (300-R)
A course section in which contents are taught both online and face-to-face. Such courses sections are coded as “Hybrid” (HYB) in the Schedule of Classes. The schedule of classes and the course syllabus must clearly establish the day(s) on which the course will meet face-to-face. Hybrid courses will typically meet face-to-face at least one day per week on the same day(s) each week. Exceptions to the typical pattern may be approved by the Dean on a case-by-case basis for programmatic or pedagogical needs.
The schedule of classes and the course syllabus must also clearly establish whether the online component of the course requires student activities on fixed dates and times.
The overall instructional time and student preparation time of the course should conform to Ramapo College’s Credit Hour Policy and Procedure (300-R).
Methods of presentation and course materials are to be under the control of the faculty member assigned to develop and/or teach the online or hybrid course. Oversight by the faculty member’s colleagues within the unit or program shall be subject to the usual norms and responsibilities of supervision and oversight associated with the functions of the unit, the dean, and the convening group offering the course or program.
Selection of Materials and Effectiveness of the Curriculum
Except where stated otherwise in this document, faculty members and the dean of the unit in which the course resides assume responsibility for course oversight and adherence to policies/procedures regarding online/hybrid courses and programs.
The purposes of online courses may include increasing the access of students to faculty, to educational resources, and to each other, while maintaining (or exceeding) the curricular standards and student learning of a conventional (face-to-face) course.
- Faculty members must obtain consensus from the convening group and approval from the Dean prior to offering a course in online or hybrid format.
- ARC approval is only required if the online / hybrid course is a new course (i.e, if an existing face-to-face course is being offered in online/hybrid format, ARC approval is not required).
- Offering 50% or more of an entire program online requires approval of the ARC and permission of the Dean and the Provost; in addition, external approvals (including the Middle States Commission on Higher Education) may be required.
Among the factors to be considered in determining the suitability of a particular course or program for online or hybrid format are the following:
- The use of an online or hybrid format improves or at minimum maintains the effectiveness of the course or program, as measured by student learning outcomes;
- The necessary instructional and student support resources are available to facilitate the use of online formats (for example, access to advising and information sources).
Individual faculty members have the same responsibility for selecting and presenting materials in courses offered through online technologies that they have in those offered in traditional classroom settings at Ramapo College. For team taught or interdisciplinary courses and programs, the faculty involved share this responsibility.
Online / hybrid courses (or modifications thereto) shall comply with all of the standard practices, policies, procedures, and criteria which have been established for traditional in the classroom courses. An online/hybrid section of a course will have the same Course Description and Student Learning Outcomes as any other section of the course.
- Faculty involvement in course development and approval. The procedures for course development/revisions and approval are outlined in the RCNJ Academic and Curricular Guidelines Manual (ACGM).
- Selection of qualified faculty to teach the course. Conveners develop the Course Schedules with the participation of faculty and approval of the Dean; faculty members may request a particular format for a course (e.g. face-to-face, hybrid, online) but the final approval is granted by the Dean. Unit deans are responsible for the development of the Unit course schedule.
- Pedagogical determinations about appropriate class size. Refer to the Academic and Curricular Guidelines Manual..
- Oversight of course offerings. Online courses are evaluated through the same student evaluation form as used for courses offered in a face-to-face format. Online courses and programs are subject to the same assessment and program review requirements as face-to face offerings.
Academic Requirements and Effectiveness of Courses
The following standards represent important guiding principles for developing, conducting and evaluating online and hybrid courses at RCNJ. The guidelines and requirements specified in the Academic and Curricular Guidelines Manual apply to all courses offered in online and hybrid formats.
- Ramapo College of New Jersey engages in online / hybrid courses and programs which are consistent with the institutional role and mission.
- Online / hybrid courses are of equal effectiveness to those on campus that are not offered at a distance and are evaluated for effectiveness by assessments of student learning outcomes. Student evaluations and data concerning student retention may be employed as secondary measures.
- A course may be offered in multiple formats (e.g., face-to-face, hybrid, online), but the overall goals of the course and student learning outcomes for each section should be consistent. The course format is simply the pathway chosen to reach the learning destination.
- All courses will identify the course-specific learning outcomes expected for students completing the course successfully and these outcomes will be tied to programmatic or general education student learning goals. Courses in all formats will be assessed equally for accomplishment of these goals and outcomes.
- Credit hours granted for online / hybrid courses will be the equivalent to the credit hours for the same course delivered in face-to-face format. RCNJ’s Registrar will announce which courses will be delivered online after receiving schedules from the unit deans. In compliance with New Jersey regulations, courses offered during special terms (i.e., winter, summer) will be distributed over a number of calendar weeks that is equal to or greater than the number of student credit hours to be awarded for successful completion of the course .
- The same policies concerning admissions requirements, academics, and the administrative processes apply to online / hybrid courses as they do for all other classes.
- Students enrolled in an online / hybrid course will have access to available academic support.
- All RCNJ courses (face-to-face and online/hybrid formats) provide regular and timely interaction between students and instructors.
- The technologies used are appropriate to the objectives of the courses taught and are frequently updated and kept current.
- If a degree program is designed to be offered entirely and only online, the enrolled student must be able to satisfy all requirements of that degree program.
ITS will inform students (on the College web site) about the general technical skill prerequisites and required hardware, software, and supplementary materials typically necessary for course participation. ITS will ensure the security of course management systems utilized by the College (including confidentiality of student information, grades, and student work). ITS will ensure that access is available (by students and faculty) to the Course Management System
two weeks prior to the start of the semester. ITS will advise faculty of measures to ensure that the student who participates in and completes the course is the same student who registered for the course and receives academic credit, in accordance with and consistent with federal requirements.
The Registrar’s office will notify students of distance-learning course formats upon a student’s registration in such a course.
The academic unit (school) providing the online / hybrid course will ensure that the same high standards for all courses are maintained, regardless of delivery method, and for ensuring that online instruction is comparable in effectiveness and content to the corresponding face-to-face instruction. Academic units (schools, convening groups) offering online / hybrid courses will regularly assess the methods by which they are delivered and their content.
Verification of Student Identity
Ramapo College uses required and optional methods to ensure that the students who register and receive grades for online courses are the same students who participate in those courses.
Students registered for online courses must access those courses by using secure logins. Students may obtain these logins, first, by securing their Ramapo e-mail addresses at this site: https://its2.ramapo.edu/its/activation.php. That site requires students to enter their Ramapo identification numbers, which are unique, as well as their birthdates for additional security. Once they receive their usernames, they must select passwords with specified parameters. Students who need to change their passwords may go to this site: https://its2.ramapo.edu/its/reset.php. Information Technology Services, which provides this service at no additional cost to students, offers assistance via e-mail and telephone. Once students have acquired their e-mail address, they must login to Moodle, the current Course Management System, (https://moodle.ramapo.edu/) as directed by the instructor.
The Moodle login process requires students to access their Ramapo e-mail accounts for instructions and to select passwords. Students with questions may contact the Instructional Design Center, which offers this service at no additional cost to students. This multi-step process enhances security and privacy while verifying student identity to the degree possible. Ramapo College’s full policy on electronic communication, which includes information about responsibilities and privacy, may be found here: http://www.ramapo.edu/hr/policies-procedures/responsible-use-electronic-communications/
In addition to secure logins, Ramapo College supports other technologies that faculty may use to ensure students’ identities while also enhancing course delivery. These technologies are free of charge to students. Faculty should consult the Instructional Design Center for more information: https://www.ramapo.edu/idc/
Faculty will inform students (in the course syllabus) about course-specific technical skill prerequisites and required hardware, software, and supplementary materials necessary for course participation, prior to the start of the course. At that time, students will also be informed of any face-to-face meetings required by the course. Such information should be included in the “syllabus” section of the course description in the Schedule of Classes; faculty may also email the syllabus to registered students prior to the start of the semester. (This is highly recommended for winter/summer session courses, to ensure students can purchase the appropriate required materials in a timely manner.)
Faculty will ensure that the primary portal through which students access course content is the College’s current Course Management System. The CMS is the product of record for the course. The CMS automatically ensures all registered students are enrolled in the CMS. Faculty may utilize additional products (e.g. wikis), but (1) these products must be accessed from within the CMS (2); if assignment grades are posted electronically, they must be posted on the CMS rather than a third party product (final course grades are posted in Banner as normal); (3) if tests are administered online, they must be administered through the CMS. Should faculty elect to utilize additional products that are not supported by the College, the faculty will ensure that the product has sufficient security measures in place; the faculty member will also ensure technological support is available to themselves and the student; the College will not provide such support for non-supported products.
Faculty who offer online / hybrid courses must be available to interact individually with their students (e.g., in person or via e-mail, telephone, or chat room, video-conference, etc.) within a reasonable time frame.
Faculty who teach through distance education technologies will acquire sufficient technical skills to present their subject matter and related material effectively, and as necessary, for consulting with technical support personnel and attending training sessions provided by the Instructional Design Center.
Student participation in online / hybrid courses is likely to be recorded in various ways and media, and student participants may be required to post materials electronically. Faculty must inform students in the syllabus (a) that their participation may be recorded and (b) of the circumstances under which others may have access to those recordings and their postings.
Faculty will ensure their syllabi conform to the Syllabus Template found in the Academic and Curricular Guidelines Manual. Faculty will ensure that students are aware that all policies, including the Academic Integrity Policy, apply to all courses, regardless of whether courses are taught in face-to-face, hybrid or online formats.
Faculty will follow the standards and practices adopted by the College to ensure that the student who participates in and completes the course is the same student who registered for the course and receives academic credit. At a minimum, secure log-in to the CMS and use of Ramapo email accounts is required.
The College will ensure that appropriate support services are available to all students enrolled in online / hybrid courses.
Because online / hybrid courses require students to undertake many or all of the course activities asynchronously – that is, not at a set time (unlike a face-to-face class which has scheduled class meeting times) – students should carefully consider whether this mode of learning is suitable for them. Students should consult with their academic advisor (faculty member or Center for Student Success advisor) to ascertain if an online / hybrid course is appropriate. The self-motivated style of learning required by online / hybrid courses may not be the best format for the academic success of all students.
Students should take an online tutorial to ascertain their readiness for online / hybrid courses. If a student “fails” this tutorial, or if a student is in academic difficulty (e.g. is on Academic Warning or Academic Probation), the student is cautioned that online / hybrid courses may not be the best format for their academic success.
Students must ensure that they have access to the technology specified by the course instructor. Online / hybrid courses may require frequent online activities requiring access to course materials several times a week; students should ensure they can gain access to the Course Management System from their location.
Students must be aware that all academic policies (including the Academic Integrity Policy) and deadlines (add/drop, withdrawal, incompletes) are the same in online / hybrid courses as they are in face-to-face format.
The College is responsible for the technological delivery of the course utilizing products supported by the College; however, the College is not responsible for technical support for a product that is not supported or endorsed by the College. The College will ensure that the necessary technology and equipment is identified and in place, appropriate training for faculty members is available, and faculty members have access to adequate technical support personnel.
Available Technology and Equipment
The College will provide faculty with access to equipment and products required for the delivery of online / hybrid courses. The College may adopt a particular product (e.g. a Course Management System such as Moodle), which will be the product of record for such courses.
Training for Teaching
Faculty receive training for online and hybrid courses from the Instructional Design Center.
Availability of Assistance
Faculty may obtain assistance from the Instructional Design Center. Students may obtain assistance from ITS.
- The materials created by faculty members for online/hybrid courses will be treated in exactly the same fashion as materials created by faculty members for face-to-face courses. The current AFT Agreement provides additional information.
- The only exceptions to (1) are those provided for in the AFT Agreement (for instance, materials that are commissioned by the College)
Changing and Updating Materials & Re-transmission of Courses
- Courses and course presentations shall not be recorded without prior knowledge and consent of the faculty member. Such recordings are not to be re-used or revised without the written consent of the faculty member.
- The faculty member (or an appropriate faculty body) who creates the online / hybrid course (including adapting a pre-existing face-to-face section) shall exercise control over the future use, modification, and distribution of recorded instructional material and shall determine whether the material should be withdrawn from use. The faculty member (or an appropriate faculty body) who creates the online / hybrid materials is responsible for all revisions or modification that may be required, including those resulting from programmatic and technological changes.
All courses in the Undergraduate and Graduate Catalogs may be offered in online / hybrid formats if feasible, but these courses will not be distinguished on transcripts from sections of these courses delivered in face-to-face format.
Tuition & Fees
Tuition and fees for courses are determined by student level (undergraduate or graduate). Tuition and fees for online / hybrid courses may differ from tuition/fees for courses taught in other formats. All tuition and fees shall be set by the College administration and approved by the Board of Trustees; the College shall not incur any additional financial expenses for offering a course in online / hybrid format.
History of Revisions
Draft by ARC, Fall 2010. Approved with amendments by Faculty Assembly 3/9/11. Additional edits from Provost’s Council 3/24/11.
Minor revisions by ARC, Spring 2013, Spring 2014.
Updated URL to IDC and ‘responsible use of electronic communication’, Spring 2015.
Revised ‘online’ and ‘hybrid’ course definition, Spring 2016. Updated CAAFYE to Center for Student Success. Edited references to academic support. Deleted reference to tutorial administered by CAAFYE.
-  This is consistent with the current (2011-2015) State contract (article XXXIII)
-  FA voted on 3/9/11 to delete this clause; Provost’s Council noted that this is inconsistent with the role of the Dean, and re-inserted it (3/24/11).
-  Including the Instructional Design Center Moodle (2013-2014)
-  Students should be referred to the online resources in the Catalog, currently at http://www.ramapo.edu/summer/online.html
-  This is consistent with the current (2011-2015) State contract (article XXXIII)