L&S Policy on Offering Undergraduate Class Sections with Online or Hybrid Modality

This page provides information about the L&S policy on offering online or hybrid undergraduate courses in the fall or spring semesters and the required approval process. This policy was updated January 2021, to include hybrid courses and clarify review procedures.

Policy

L&S departments must request approval to schedule hybrid or online undergraduate class sections, in fall or spring semesters.

Scope

Each class section (lecture, discussion, lab) is assigned an instructional mode in SIS. Following campus definitions, the modality should be listed as
  • in-person (P) when less than 25% is delivered in an online format
  • hybrid (WC) when between 25% and 75% is delivered in an online format
  • online (WO) when more than 75% is delivered in an online format
Note that in-person courses are thus permitted to have some online content. As long as departments adhere to the definition given above, no permission is required to run courses in which every section is in-person.

L&S departments must request permission to teach classes sections in the online or hybrid format when they meet all of the following conditions:
  • the course is designed for undergraduates
  • the course is offered in fall or spring semester
  • one or more sections of the course are hybrid or online
  • the course has not yet been approved (or provisionally approved) by L&S to be offered in these modes 

Rationale

The College of Letters & Science is the largest undergraduate college at UW-Madison and teaches over 80% of freshman and sophomore credits across the university. Given our strong teaching mission and the number of students we serve, L&S must actively support and enhance UW-Madison’s excellence as primarily a residential institution that offers a high-quality in-person experience for all undergraduates. This includes making sure that during the fall/spring semesters:
Online activities, materials and experiences are common in L&S courses as part of the many excellent methods our instructors use to engage and teach students. However, given UW-Madison’s identity as a residential experience, we must be strategic about offering courses that substitute a majority or more of in-person interactions with online activities. When L&S departments do teach undergraduate courses with online or hybrid sections, we want to ensure:
Summer offerings are exempt from this policy; there are no summer residential expectations and summer term enrollment is optional for most undergraduates.

Procedure

Departments wishing to offer an undergraduate online or hybrid class sections in a fall or spring semesters must submit a request to do so.

Requests will be administratively reviewed by L&S Administration, and, if approved, will be forwarded to the L&S Curriculum Committee for its review and approval. As part of the review process, the L&S Learning Support Services (LSS) will be consulted about whether the design of the course aligns with current practices in online education.

Generally speaking, an approval to offer a course with online or hybrid sections rolls forward automatically each semester. However, if a course’s content, design, enrollment or audience changes substantially, or if an issue is identified (e.g., through regular L&S Admin monitoring, program review, assessment procedures, or student complaints), L&S Teaching & Learning or the L&S Curriculum Committee may require another review.

***UPDATE for Fall 2021 requests: Given the need for a very short turnaround for Fall 2021, only L&S Administration approval is required for Fall 2021 requests.

Please see Request to offer an online or hybrid undergraduate course during the academic year for more information about the request form and process.

Provisional approval for courses converted to online and offered prior to Fall 2020

Eventually all courses must have approval to be offered to have online or hybrid sections (by Fall 2023). However, courses that were recently offered online in a fall/spring semester (Fall 2017 or after, and before to Fall 2020 in a fall/spring semester) were automatically given provisional approval to continue to be offered until Fall 2023. To see whether a course in your department has provisional or permanent approval, see if your department, see L&S undergraduate courses approved to be offered online in Fall or Spring semesters

Additional Information

For additional information or questions, please contact Shirin Malekpour, Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning (L&S), at shirin.malekpour@wisc.edu. Also please see Request to offer an online or hybrid undergraduate course during the academic year .