To assist with students’ academic planning, UMBC aims to ensure that the Class Schedule is solidified at the time of publication, with only minor course adjustments (e.g. enrollment capacities and classroom assignments) being made after enrollment begins. In some very rare circumstances, a change in course instruction modality (in-person, hybrid or online) may be necessary. Long-term or permanent changes in course instruction modality including a change in synchronous to/from an asynchronous approach for online courses have serious implications for student enrollment and should be carefully considered if done after enrollment begins. The following guidelines have been provided should such a need arise:
1. Consider the Implications for Changing Course Instruction Modality
While many students may be indifferent to the course mode of instruction, other students are far more intentional about selecting courses with specific modes of instruction. Students may select specific course modalities for various reasons including:
- Learning Style Preferences: Some students learn better in one format (in-person, hybrid, online) versus another and choose to optimize these course options during registration when selecting their courses and building their class schedule. Changes to the mode of instruction after the start of classes can be quite concerning and create tremendous angst for students.
- Work and Family Obligations: Students often arrange their class schedules to accommodate work and family obligations. For example, some students may choose an online format that offers the flexibility needed for a dynamic work schedule while others may choose an in-person format that allows for a more structured and focused learning experience that may not be possible in a more hectic home setting. Changes to course modality may be disruptive for students with work and family commitments.
- Student Disabilities: While generally disabilities should not prohibit a student from engaging in various types of course instruction modalities, the student may choose courses with course modalities that are more conducive to their needs. For example, a student with a physical disability may prefer, when possible, to take their courses online for accessibility reasons while another student with a physical disability may opt for courses with an in-person format. Further, in many cases, students with disabilities are leveraging accommodation services to support their learning. Unexpected changes in course instruction modality can create accessibility challenges for students with disabilities.
Additionally, changes in course instruction modality could have the following implications when done after enrollment begins:
- Academic Progress: If a student decides to drop a course due to the change in course modality, the student’s progress to degree completion and enrollment status (full-time/part-time) may be impacted.
- Financial/Financial Aid: If a student decides to drop a course due to the change in course modality, the students’ enrollment status (full-time/part-time) may be impacted thus impacting the amount of federal, state and institutional aid for which a student may be eligible. Additionally, course withdrawals may impact Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP).
- Compliance: Many organizations (e.g.. Veterans Administration, foreign embassies) require UMBC to include course modality when certifying a student’s enrollment. Shifts in modality may create inconsistency with what has been reported which may place us out of compliance with requirements and regulations.
2. Discuss Proposed Change in Course Instruction Modality with Department Chair
If the instructor believes the circumstances require a change in course modality, the instructor should begin discussions with the department chair as soon as possible. Once the instructor and chair are in agreement about the proposed change in modality, then the instructor should proceed in having a conversation with the students enrolled in the course.
3. Discuss Pending Change in Course Instruction Modality with Students
For the reasons outlined above, it will be imperative that the course instructor (or designated department representative) discuss the potential change in modality as soon as possible with all students enrolled in the course to develop an understanding of the possible impact of this change, if any, on students collectively and individually. It is highly recommended that you follow up with students in writing (via email) summarizing the pending change in course modality (why, when, how, etc.) and inviting students with concerns to reach out to you immediately to discuss their concerns. Request that students notify you by a specific date if they have concerns.
4. Submit Request for Change in Course Instruction Modality Form
The instructor or department chair (in the case that an instructor is not available) should complete the Request for Change in Course Instruction Modality Form shortly after discussing with students. On the form, the instructor will note the following:
- Course Number and Section
- Modality Change: Specify the change in modality (e.g. from in-person to online)
- Does this change involve a change from synchronous to asynchronous teaching and learning or vice-versa?
- Justification/Explanation: What is the justification or explanation for the change request (e.g.. medical emergency)?
- Student Concerns: Confirm that students have been alerted to the potential change and note any concerns raised by the class or individual students.
The request must be reviewed by the department chair and then the respective college dean. Upon review and signoff by the dean, the completed form will be forwarded to the Registrar’s Office. If concerns have been raised by the class or individual students, the department chair will review the concerns with the Registrar’s Office and other appropriate offices (i.e. Student Disability Services, Center for Global Engagement, Athletics, etc.) to explore what appropriate options, if any, might be available to the student(s). Note: The department/instructor should not discuss any non-standard enrollment options or commit to any special arrangements with the student(s) prior to conferring with the appropriate office.
Given the potential impact of the request on students, the Request for Change In Course Instruction Modality Form should be submitted, considered and processed as quickly as possible. The Registrar’s Office will follow up directly with scheduling coordinators and chairs to confirm changes have been made and/or review outstanding questions prior to processing.
5. Announce Change/Notify Students via Email of the Official Change in Modality
Once the request is signed off by the Dean, the instructor should announce the change to the class and notify the students via email that “the course modality will change from ____ (previous modality) to ____ (new modality) effective _______ (date)”. A copy of the communication to students notifying them of the change should be sent to the Registrar’s Office at email@example.com.
Questions about the Request for Change in Course Instruction Modality should be directed to Pam Hawley, University Registrar, at firstname.lastname@example.org.