SYNC class meetings to mirror face-to-face


Graig Bracey

Second-year psychology student Hamza Iqbal at – tends a Zoom meeting for his online SYNC class.

Zack Buster and Dan Elson

Students who take online SYNC courses this summer and fall could be meeting more often over Zoom or Microsoft Teams with their professors and classmates.
Online SYNC courses that have included a single virtual meeting per week now will meet at least twice a week so students who take a SYNC version of the class will meet with professors and classmates for exactly the same amount of time as those in the face-to-face sections of the same course.
The change comes as the college moves toward making the student experience in an online SYNC class equal to the face-to-face experience.
Online SYNC classes, which the college began offering in March 2020 when campuses closed because of the pandemic, have typically involved online content in Canvas plus at least one Zoom or Teams meeting a week.
“We have decided that we need to be consistent [so] … all of the online [SYNC] sections will meet the [same] number of minutes as they would in a regular lecture class,” Alicia Morse, dean of the School of Liberal Arts, said. “We’re doing this collegewide.”
Classes that are fully online will continue to operate without any required meetings.
Depending on the class and the professor, the number of online SYNC meetings has varied since the college introduced that method of taking classes.
Morse explained that the college created online SYNC sections in response to the pandemic, which closed campuses and moved all classes online for several semesters.
“A crisis occurred two years ago,” Morse said. “We needed to, as an institution, quickly pivot to online lectures. … There had been some flexibility provided for faculty around the number of minutes, so we have decided that we need to be consistent … starting in the summer,” for all liberal arts classes.
Other schools within the college are doing the same.
In fact, Vice President for Learning Tanya Millner in April created a committee to come up with a uniform definition of “online SYNC” and standardize the requirements for class meetings.
In the meantime, the amount of time students spend in meetings for online SYNC classes will match the face-to-face requirement.
“You shouldn’t have … higher standards and expectations than if you are in a [fully] online class, a hybrid class or an online SYNC class,” Millner said. “The modality should not matter. You should still have the exact same exemplary learning experience regardless of the modality.”
Elizabeth Appel, dean of the School of Health Sciences, agreed that online SYNC classes and in-person classes should meet for the same amount of time.
Karen Cook, dean of the School of Business and Law, said “the vast majority” of online SYNC business courses already mirror the face-to-face versions. Starting in the fall, she said, all of them will.
The change will “ensure that the online SYNC experience is standardized … so student expectations are standardized,” Cook said.
Lance Bowen, dean of School Of Science, Technology and Education agreed.
“Regardless of the [class type] it’s critical that the student learning outcomes and objectives of the course are being met,” Bowen said.
“It should be the same content, and meeting the same objectives,” Colleen Eisenbeiser, dean of Learning Advancement and the Virtual Campus, noted. But it’s all online.”
Kip Kunsman, dean of Continuing Education and Workforce Development, agreed.
“It’s important … that students receive the course that they signed up for and purchased, whether it’s their own means or financial aid or otherwise,” Kunsman said. “That is something that we as an institution have to ensure.”
First-year transfer studies student Jamie Gant, who took a SYNC class last semester that only met once a week, said she would have “definitely … benefited [from having] two meetings.”
Second-year graphic and web design student Mason Butler agreed. He said the extra meeting time would make “online classes feel a lot more interactive if you’re meeting more.”
But first-year computer engineering student Sam Fredrick objected.
“I feel like it’d be wasting my time because previously, I [felt] one time a week was at a great pace for what I was doing for my schedule and my life,” Frederick said. “So maybe it would inconvenience people to have to go to a class.”
Reporter Lilly Roser contributed to this article.