Preparing an SWS Online or Hybrid Course Proposal

Online and hybrid SWS courses are responsible for meeting the same criteria as face-to-face (F2F) SWS courses. Please review the Requirements for SWS Courses before developing an online or hybrid course. Two of the criteria in particular require careful consideration when implementing them in an online environment and may require careful planning for how to meet the requirements:

4. At least four class hours are to be devoted to writing discussions/activities.

5. SWS courses must require at least 3,000 words of writing. Although in-class essay examinations may count toward the word quota, because such exams are exclusively one-draft writing assignments, courses which include only essay-exam writing will not be approved as SWS courses.

Once you design your course syllabus of record for SWS, you will need to provide a detailed explanation in the accompanying cover letter that explains how your hybrid or online course meets these two requirements in light of the explanation in the following two sections.

Four Class Hours

In a F2F course, it is easy to plan and estimate how to satisfy the four hours of writing discussion/activities requirement because specific amounts of class time are allotted to each discussion or activity. Because activities that are online in a hybrid or online class will often be completed by students at different times within a set time frame (e.g. an online discussion about writing with frequent posting on a forum over two days), you’ll need to estimate the time that students will take to join in the discussion and/or to complete the activity on their own. In your proposal cover letter, provide a tabulation of the activities and estimated completion time. 

In designing online writing discussions/activities, differentiate between what you would normally consider homework activities and F2F classroom activities. You’ll want to think about traditional modes of writing instruction that you already do during class and how to implement them in an online environment. For example,

  • Mini lectures on writing – You might create short video or audio lectures on writing for students to view or listen to.  
  • Class discussions – Design a prompt about writing instruction for discussion and have students discuss this prompt in a discussion forum or comments attached to a blog post. The discussion might be in response to a video or audio lecture you created or a reading on writing instruction. This could be conducted as a full class, or students might be organized into smaller groups for discussion.  
  • Peer feedback – Have students share their writing via a discussion board or other online medium and have their peers provide feedback. Be sure to develop well-explained, guided peer feedback instructions since you will not be in-class to shepherd the peer group work.

3,000 Words of Writing

In a fully online class, potentially all of the communication that students do could happen through writing; yet, just as with the F2F SWS class, not all of the writing counts towards the 3,000 words of writing.

Because the discussion and peer feedback activities described in the previous section (Four Class Hours) are the equivalent of instructional activities that happens in the classroom in a F2F class, this type of writing does not count towards the 3,000 words of writing. Rather, when thinking about what counts towards the 3,000 words of writing, consider writing activities normally completed outside of class that would count in a F2F SWS course. For instance, drafting and revising a paper would count toward the 3,000 words.

Page last modified June 18, 2014