Teaching Online

St. John Fisher University defines an online learning course as one that is taught primarily through the campus course management system, Brightspace, with the incorporation of other educational technologies where appropriate, and that requires no face-to-face meetings on campus throughout the duration of the course.

Online and Hybrid Education Handbook

This handbook outlines the guidelines for online and hybrid courses at Fisher, including the approval and development process for new courses and programs, as well as the training requirements for those teaching courses in these formats and the quality review process used to maintain the highest standards of quality education in these modalities. This document is also available on the Provost's website.

Online and Hybrid Education Handbook [pdf]

Verification of Student Identity in Online Programs

In order to assist students in understanding their legal and ethical responsibilities as online participants in the academic community, and in compliance with the Higher Education Opportunity Act, specifically Public Law 110-35, St. John Fisher University has developed the Verification of Student Identity in Online Programs [pdf], which can be found on the Provost's website.

Online Course Instruction FAQs

Please browse some common questions regarding online instruction.

What is synchronous vs. asynchronous online learning?

There are two options for instructors to facilitate class sessions remotely:

  • Synchronous: instructors and students gather at the same time and interact in “real time” with a very short or “near-real time” exchange between instructors and students.
  • Asynchronous: instructors prepare course materials for students in advance of students’ access. Students may access the course materials at a time of their choosing and will interact with each other over a longer period of time.

Instructors may choose to engage their students synchronously or asynchronously depending on the course content or material that needs to be taught. There are many advantages and disadvantages to asynchronous and synchronous teaching options.

Advantages of Synchronous Teaching

  • Immediate personal engagement between students and instructors, which may create greater feelings of community and lessen feelings of isolation
  • More responsive exchanges between students and instructors, which may prevent miscommunication or misunderstanding

Disadvantages of Synchronous Teaching

  • More challenging to schedule shared times for all students and instructors
  • Some students may face technical challenges or difficulties if they do not have fast or powerful Wi-Fi networks accessible

Advantages of Asynchronous Teaching

  • Higher levels of temporal flexibility, which may simultaneously make the learning experiences more accessible to different students and also make an archive of past materials accessible.
  • Increased cognitive engagement since students will have more time to engage with and explore the course material.

Disadvantages of Asynchronous Teaching

  • Students may feel less personally exchanged and less satisfied without the social interaction between their peers and instructors.
  • Course material may be misunderstood or have the potential to be misconstrued without real-time interaction.

At Fisher, if you choose to use synchronous sessions as part of your remote teaching strategy, Zoom is the supported platform of choice. Your asynchronous learning platform will be Brightspace. All students and faculty have access to Brightspace and it is the home base for all online learning activities. Please use Brightspace as your primary means of communication with students and encourage your students to check their Brightspace site daily.

How can videos be transitioned for online delivery?

First, contact Lavery Library at libraryreference@sjf.edu to verify if we have access to the video and if it can be digitized. If so, the video will be digitized by OIT and posted on Ensemble for you. You will then be able to embed the video within your Brightspace course. If this is not an option, the library will check to see if the video is available through other online options like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc. It may be available with a subscription or for a fee. If so, access must be acquired individually by each student in the course. It is up to the discretion of the instructor if this is still a required component of the course online or if other activities can be made available to replace the content included in the video. Your liaison librarian can help you find alternative video resources that may be more easily used in online course delivery.

What are the technical requirements necessary for online classes?

You will need to have a computer (either Windows 10 or Mac OSX 10.8 or higher) and a high-speed Internet connection. If you plan to hold synchronous live sessions or record video lectures, you will also need a webcam and a headset with a microphone. We recommend the Logitech H570E Stereo USB Headset. We also recommend the latest version of Chrome or Firefox as the preferred web browsers. Other browsers such as Edge, Opera, or Safari are also acceptable but may not provide full functionality for all campus resources. For more detailed technical specifications, please visit the student computer recommendations on the OIT website.

  • Learning Online

    Person using a laptop on campus.

    View more details about Learning Online at Fisher, including the Online Readiness Assessment, Online Student Orientation, and current online and hybrid programs.

    Learning Online