S21-264 Revision to #F20-264 Online Education Policy (Supersede)

Reference Number: S21-264
Senate Approval Date: Tuesday, March 16, 2021
Presidential Approval Date: 
Monday, March 29, 2021
Archival Information: 


Policy #: S21-264 

Supersedes: F20-264 

Senate Approval:03/16/2021

Presidential Approval: 03/29/2021

Effective Fall 2021

Last Review: Spring 2021

Next Review: Fall 2025



SF State recognizes that most university classes use the Internet to some degree and some university courses (or classes) are conducted entirely online. This policy has been created to promote the continuation of a high-quality educational experience for students, faculty members, and the SF State community through the use of online resources.


Key Words: fully online, hybrid, learning mode


Academic Policies Committee

Responsible Unit

Online Education Committee, Academic Technology







Added the definition for learning management system and policy language on student workload and recording synchronous sessions.






Added additional definitions for clarity, addressed remote proctoring (third party and otherwise), and addressed use of student video in remote class sessions. Specified synchronous class sessions must be scheduled within standardized time blocks.








•       Modifying definitions including updating the name of the Romberg Tiburon center, combining the definitions of face-to-face and

technology enhanced classes, clarifying that fully online courses







can be asynchronous or synchronous, and updating DUEAP name.

•       Clarify that it is a department committee that approves learning modes for course sections offered by a department.

•       Provide greater flexibility for faculty to allow a limited change in class meetings from face-to-face to online in order to accommodate unexpected circumstances or provide the equivalent of a minimum of 15 weeks of instruction.



S16-264: Revision of definitions





Table of Contents

General Assumptions Definitions

Quality and Educational Effectiveness Communication & Support Student Assessment

Student Workload

Use of Student Video in Synchronous Courses Recording Synchronous Sessions

Course and Program Approval

Recognition Scheduling Workload Accessibility Intellectual Property and Copyright



General Assumptions

•       The goal of online education is to expand educational opportunities for SF State students by offering courses with high quality and convenience and flexibility. SF State is dedicated to providing all students with an accessible education.

•       The addition of online classes, content, and activities to SF State’s curriculum has been a positive contribution to SF State's academic environment and is consistent with its present mission and role as a public educational institution.

•       Regardless of mode of instruction, all courses shall abide by the same academic policies and laws.


•       In a Face-to-Face course, with the exception of field trips, all class sessions and other meetings are physically held on SF State campuses; including, but not limited to, the main campus, downtown campus, and Romberg Tiburon Campus. Face-to-Face courses, in which students attend all class sessions in an assigned face-to-face environment, may be technology-enhanced, with online technologyprimarily used to engage the students with the curriculum and learning process.

•       Hybrid courses are a mixture of online and face-to-face class sessions. The university course schedule specifies the number and location of face-to-face or synchronous classes, or other meetings. The online sessions may be asynchronous, synchronous, or both.

•       HyFlex courses are class sessions that allow students to choose whether to attend classes face-to-face or online, (e.g., synchronous, asynchronous, bichronous).

•       In a Fully Online course, instructors provide instructional support and students complete course requirements through a variety of modalities that are unrestricted by physical place. The online sessions may be asynchronous, synchronous, or both.

•       Asynchronous online courses do not meet face-to-face, do not receive a room reservation on campus, and do not require meetings with students at the same time.


•       Bichronous online courses include both asynchronous and synchronous class sessions.


•       Synchronous online courses meet at a scheduled time in an online environment, such as a web conference.


•       Emergency remote instruction is used when the campus environment is not available to support traditional instruction, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020-21, and faculty and students are forced to use a variety of technologies to conduct teaching and learning activities.

•       Remote proctoring: Remote proctoring is the process of monitoring students while they take an exam or other academic assessment in an online setting. This may include a person (i.e., proctor) synchronously viewing students, video recordings of students taking an exam, the use of artificial intelligence to notify proctors or instructors to scrutinize a students’ synchronous video or a portion of an asynchronous recording, and the collection of biometric or other personal data.

•       Third-party remote proctoring: Third-party remote proctoring services are provided by organizations external to the California State University system.

•       Learning Management Systems (LMS): A learning management system is an online system that provides a variety of assessment, communication, information and file-sharing opportunities in support of the teaching and learning process. SF State’s current LMS is called iLearn. All classes in all delivery modes are provided with an iLearn site to support student learning.

Quality and Educational Effectiveness

•       All online education programs and courses shall be consistent with the educational mission of the University.

•       Tenured / tenure-track faculty are essential to the integrity of any academic  program.

•       Faculty members shall use teaching practices that are appropriate to the mode of instruction. The selection of course material is the purview of the faculty member teaching the course. Faculty are expected to seek the professional development and support necessary to ensure a successful educational experience for their students. Departments shall ensure that faculty assigned to teach online courses are appropriately prepared.

•       Courses with the same course prefix, number and title shall adhere to the same learning outcomes.

Communication & Support

•       Faculty members shall designate a primary method or methods of communication for use in each class.

•       Faculty members shall define a reasonable response time with respect to answering student communications through the designated method and provide adequate and appropriate opportunities for timely interaction between the faculty member and students.

•       Faculty members shall make clear the standards of conduct that are expected in all class and university environments, such as classroom or Internet etiquette. Students shall abide by the official Student Code of Conduct.

•       Faculty members shall define student expectations including, but not limited to, participation in online class activities, access to specialized hardware, software, or virtual environments, or technical skills required to succeed.

•       The course syllabus shall indicate the course’s technological requirements and sources and contact information for technological support.

•       Support details and user expectations shall be defined by the responsible university administrative unit(s) in service level agreements or similar public documents.

•       Opportunities should be provided for faculty to offer input on major changes in course technologies.

Student Assessment

•       Assessment strategies will be consistent with course goals and objectives and clearly stated for students.

•       Students are expected to follow the academic integrity policy that SF State has in place at the time the work is created. This is a rapidly changing field; the University and faculty shall work together to provide and implement tools and processes to ensure academic integrity.

•       The use of third-party remote proctoring is not allowed in SF State courses starting in the Spring 2021 semester. Exceptions; such as for the culminating experience, capstone, or certification exams at the undergraduate or graduate level which require the use of third-party remote proctoring; may be granted by the college dean or designee in consultation with Academic Technology, the Center for Equity &Excellence in Teaching & Learning, and Disability Programs and Resource Center.

Student Workload

•       Per the assumptions of the Carnegie unit1, one-third of student workload expectations are normally met through participation in class sessions and two-thirds of student workloadexpectations are for out-of- class independent (of the instructor) learning activities (e.g., reading, homework). For example, a 3-unit face-to-face or synchronous online course section meets for 3 hours each week in addition to 6 hours of out-of-class independent (of the instructor) learning activities.


•       In addition to describing the out-of-class independent (of the instructor) learning activities,courses that use an asynchronous learning mode for part or all of the class sessions must communicate what those asynchronous class activities are on the syllabus or the coursewebsite (e.g., iLearn Learning Management System).

•       The faculty teaching support center (currently the Center for Equity and Excellence in Teaching and Learning) will provide guidance to faculty about how to estimate the equivalence of asynchronous learning activities that considers the variety of types of assignments and diversity of students.

Use of Student Video in Synchronous Courses

•       The use of student video in web conferencing (such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams) can be required by faculty to support engaged learning and ongoing informal formative assessment in an online synchronous environment.

1 The Carnegie Unit, also known as the credit hour, is the basic unit of measurement of student progress through a program of study.

•       When faculty require video sharing, students may request a video sharing exemption from the faculty member for concerns such as: privacy, equitability, or accessibility concerns, or during periods of emergency remote instruction. If reasonable accommodations based on disability are needed the student should meet with DPRC.


•       However, when direct observation is required for course completion such as in performing arts or classes requiring presentations or supervision (e.g., health sciences clinical skills, credential student teaching), faculty may deny a student’s request for exemption.

•       If students are required to share their video, the course schedule must indicate this requirement.

Recording Synchronous Class Sessions

Any time that a class session is recorded by the instructor during a synchronous class session, students will be notified. If students do not want their likeness, words, or their name during class participation included in the recorded class session, students must be given the option to turn off their video and anonymize themselves during session recordings.

•       Recordings will be available for viewing subject to the following:

o  Only students enrolled in the subject class may view the recording.

o  Students may not post or use the recordings in any form (e.g., audio transcript, chat transcript, screen shots) in any other setting (e.g., social media) outside of the class, for any purpose. Students who violate this will be subject to student discipline, up to and including expulsion.

Faculty who wish to use recordings of synchronous class sessions outside of the current class must receive the consent and signed recording release forms from all students present in the class session. The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs process provides a university- approved recording release form.

Students are not allowed to capture audio, photos, or video from class sessions on their own devices without explicit permission from the instructor or unless specifically requested by DPRC.


Course and Program Approval

•       A department faculty, in consultation with college councils, are responsible for deciding which courses (or sections) as well as which degree or certificate programs will be offered in a face-to-face, hybrid, HyFlex, or fully online format. Although courses must be delivered using the learning mode approved by the department, an instructor teaching a face-to-face course may adapt to unforeseen circumstances by teaching a maximum of 15% of the class session during the semester using an online learning mode. Similarly, an instructor teaching a synchronous online course may choose to teach a maximum of 15% of the class sessions during the semester as asynchronous online sessions. Department chairs and students must be notified of the change in learning mode in either event. Conversion of greater than 15% of class sessions requires department approval and should only be done in extreme cases.

•       Faculty members teaching online courses have the same control and ownership of the substantive and intellectual content of their courses that faculty have with any other course.

•       Colleges are responsible for communicating to Academic Affairs the degree to which their courses are online so that the course may be properly described in the Class Schedule.

•       Any degree, certificate, or credential program, new or existing, in which 50% or more of the course delivery occurs through an online course format must consult with the Division of Undergraduate Education and Academic Planning to obtain WASC approval.

•       No individual, program, or department shall agree in a contract with any private orpublic entity to deliver courses or programs on behalf of SF State without prior university approval.


•       All classes are subject to the same principles of peer review and student evaluation for purposes of the Retention, Tenure, and Promotion processes. All courses shall be equally recognized and rewarded when considering curriculum and professional development.



•       A degree, certificate, or credential program with online courses must indicate the technological requirements in the SF State Bulletin.

•       The official Class Schedule shall clearly indicate the mode of instruction, technological requirements and schedule for each class offered by SF State. Departments are responsible for reporting this information to Academic Resources in a timely fashion.

•       Synchronous class meetings must be scheduled within the standard time blocks and can be scheduled anytime within the specified time block.

•       The SF State Bulletin and official Class Schedule shall provide guidelines for students considering taking online courses.

•       It is the responsibility of the student to take into account the instructional mode, to review the guidelines on online courses, and to have access to required technological resources.




Refer to the CSU policy on credit units (Coded Memorandum AA-2011-14 CSU Definition of Credit Hour) for guidance on student workload.

As is the case with face to face mode, class size and corresponding faculty workload will be determined by the department chair and faculty member, taking into account the level of interaction between faculty and students in the course environment, as well as the physical class sizes common on the campus.


•       All classes shall comply with applicable law and policies in effect at the time, including but not limited to: the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as Amended (2008), Section 504 and 508 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, California Government Code 11135, and CSU Executive Order 1111.


•       All students shall have access to the course evaluation process.

Intellectual Property and Copyright

•       Intellectual property created during the development of online courses shall follow the Intellectual Property Policy that SF State has in place at the time the materials are created.

•       In the event that a faculty member is not able to complete a course due to unforeseen causes, such as sickness or relocation, the university administration may grant another faculty member access to the class roster, class syllabus, and points or grades earned by students up to the time the original faculty member stopped teaching, and any other class materials available to the administration. While the new instructor may use this material to complete the class for that semester, the new instructor must honor the intellectual property rights of the original instructor.

Signed Memo: